The Indian in the Cupboard (film)

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The Indian in the Cupboard
Indian in the cupboardposter.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byFrank Oz
Produced by
Screenplay byMelissa Mathison
Based onThe Indian in the Cupboard
by Lynne Reid Banks
Music byRandy Edelman
CinematographyRussell Carpenter
Edited byIan Crafford
Distributed by
  • Paramount Pictures
    (North America theatrical, International home video releases and Netflix prints)
  • Columbia Pictures
    (International theatrical, North America home video releases and TV broadcast airings)
Release date
  • July 14, 1995 (1995-07-14)
Running time
96 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$45 million[2]
Box office$35.7 million[3]

The Indian in the Cupboard is a 1995 American family fantasy drama film directed by Frank Oz and written by Melissa Mathison, based on the children's book of the same name by Lynne Reid Banks.[4] The story is about a boy who receives a cupboard as a gift on his ninth birthday. He later discovers that putting toy figures in the cupboard, after locking and unlocking it, brings the toys to life.

The film starred Hal Scardino as Omri, Litefoot as Little Bear, Lindsay Crouse, Richard Jenkins, Rishi Bhat as Omri's friend Patrick, Steve Coogan as Tommy Atkins, and David Keith as Boone the Cowboy.[5] It was distributed by Columbia Pictures (International theater release, TV broadcast rights and US video release) and Paramount Pictures (US theater release, Netflix rights and international video release).


On his ninth birthday, Omri receives an old cupboard from his brother Gillon (Vincent Kartheiser) and a little Native American "Indian" figure made of plastic from his best friend Patrick (Rishi Bhat). That night, Omri goes through his mom's box of old keys and finds that a gold-colored key with a red ribbon tied to it (given to his mother by her grandmother) actually fits the keyhole of his cupboard. He then looks for an object to lock in the cupboard and settles for the Indian figurine.

The next morning, he hears a small tapping noise coming from the cupboard. Omri opens the cupboard and finds a small living person hiding in the corner. It is actually the Indian figure who has magically come to life in human form. Frightened by his large acquaintance, the Indian pulls out a dagger and points it at Omri. Shortly afterward, Omri's father comes in the room to help Omri get ready for school, forcing Omri to lock the cupboard and keep the Indian a secret.

When Omri arrives home from school, he is upset to discover that the Indian has returned to its original toy form. When he goes to bed, Omri once more hears the tapping noise he heard that morning. He opens the cupboard to find the Indian alive once more. Though the Indian is still initially fearful of Omri due to his height, he eventually reveals himself as an English-speaking, 18th-century Iroquois Indian named Little Bear (Litefoot) who was fighting in the French and Indian War on the side of the British. During Little Bear's stay with Omri, Omri learns a lot about the Iroquois and the two develop a friendship. Omri also learns that Little Bear is a widower. When Omri takes Little Bear outside, he gets hurt by a pigeon, forcing Omri to bring to life his brother's First World War British Army medic named Tommy Atkins (Steve Coogan) to treat Little Bear's wound.

After Omri gives Little Bear tools, sticks and some paper, Little Bear crafts a longhouse and eagerly talks of hunting and sharing stories with Omri over a fire, as he does with his own people. Omri decides to surprise Little Bear with another Indian figure (resembling a Mohawk chieftain), saying Little Bear can have the chieftain's longbow. Little Bear watches in excitement as Omri brings the figure to life. However, the chieftain suffers a heart attack out of fear after looking at Omri. Omri is shocked by this, which puzzles Little Bear. Confused as to why a spirit would be frightened at the sight of death, he soon comes to the realization that Omri really is a child. Little Bear tells Omri to send the man back and that he shouldn't tamper with magic he doesn't even understand. Upset, Omri locks the dead chieftain in the cupboard, making him plastic once more, before leaving the angry Little Bear to answer his dad calling him downstairs.

Omri's dad is upset when, after asking Omri where his saw blades went, Omri tells him that he buried them and can't remember where (Omri lied to protect Little Bear's existence). Due to a combination of guilt and wanting to prove his maturity, Omri volunteers to go buy the new set of blades on his own. While Omri goes to the store, Little Bear is preparing the chieftain's body, presumably still in its plastic form, for burial. As Omri leaves the hardware store, another slightly older kid knocks him into a wall and roughs him up, stealing the change Omri had left. Visibly shaken from the incident, Omri suddenly runs into Patrick, who has a plastic cowboy on a horse to go with the Indian. Patrick's mother notices that Omri is upset, so she and Patrick take Omri home.

Eventually, Omri reveals his secret to Patrick, who immediately wants to bring to life a toy of his own. Ignoring Omri's protests, Patrick brings to life a cowboy from 1879 called "Boohoo" Boone (David Keith). Boone and Little Bear are initially hostile toward one another, but are forced to behave themselves when Omri reluctantly accepts Patrick's request to bring them to school. Their cover is nearly blown when Patrick almost shows Boone and Little Bear (now friends) to some classmates, and he and Omri begin arguing in the hallway before being intermediated by their teacher.

When Patrick childishly asserts that he could reveal the men and Omri would be powerless to stop him, Omri drives home the point that the time travelers are not living toys that exist for their amusement, but people just like them. As the truth sinks in for Patrick, the teacher realizes that the object in Patrick's fanny pack is the subject of contention. He then orders him to open it and show him. Boone and Little Bear pretend to be plastic toys thanks to Omri's hints and, lying woodenly in Patrick's hand, successfully fool the teacher.

Back home, Omri shows a female Indian figure to Little Bear, which he intends to bring to life to give Little Bear a new wife (Little Bear has earlier revealed himself as a widower). Just as he is about to lock the figure in the cupboard, he and Patrick (who is spending the night) are puzzled to find the cupboard is missing. Omri's brother confesses he hid the cupboard in the downstairs crawlspace as means of getting back at Omri for hiding the ball his brother keeps his pet rat in. When Omri retrieves the cupboard, he discovers that the key is gone.

That night, Omri and Patrick, along with Little Bear and Boone, watch a program on TV that shows a relentless slaughter of Indians by cowboys. Boone is enthusiastic at the sight of his "boys" killing the helpless Indians, while Little Bear watches in horror at the sight of his "people" being massacred. Upon hearing Boone fire his gun into the air with delight, Little Bear becomes confused and fires an arrow into Boone's chest. Making matters worse, Omri's mother warns that Omri's brother's pet rat has escaped and is hidden somewhere under the wooden floors.

Later that night, Omri and Patrick find the key jammed between two floor boards and accidentally push it down out of sight while trying to retrieve it. Little Bear goes under the floor and manages to return the key to Omri just before he is nearly killed by the pet rat. With the key back, Omri brings Tommy Atkins back to life, so he can treat Boone's wounds. While the still unconscious cowboy is being examined, Omri realizes it is time to return Little Bear and Boone to their respective time periods where they belong. Shortly after Omri sends Tommy Atkins back to his own time, Boone awakens and forgives Little Bear. Later that night, as Patrick sleeps, Omri goes to bring the female Indian to life, but Little Bear realizes what Omri is doing, and stops him. Omri says he doesn't want Little Bear to be alone when he goes back, but Little Bear says that the Indian woman probably has people of her own, maybe even her own family, and forcing her to be with Little Bear would sadden her and, in turn, sadden him. Omri agrees not to bring her to life.

The next morning, Omri and Patrick say their goodbyes to their little friends before locking them back in the cupboard and sending them home. Just before saying goodbye, Omri has a vision of a life-sized Little Bear telling him that when he returns to his own time, he will take Omri on as his nephew. The film ends with Omri at school reading a journal entry where he assures everyone that although he will never know where or how Little Bear may be, he does not worry about him anymore.



Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 73% based on reviews from 22 critics.[6]

Additionally, both Rishi Bhat and Hal Scardino received nominations in 1996 at the 17th Youth in Film Awards.

Box office[edit]

The movie debuted at number six at the North American box office.[7] The film made only $35 million against a production budget of $45 million, making it a box office bomb; however, the film was in competition with high-profile successes like Apollo 13, Nine Months, Pocahontas, and Batman Forever.[8] As a result, plans to adapt the next four books in the series into films were dropped.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Indian in the Cupboard (PG)". British Board of Film Classification. August 31, 1995. Retrieved October 12, 2016.
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ Lynne Reid Banks
  5. ^ The Indian in the Cupboard (1995) - Full cast and crew
  6. ^ "The Indian in the Cupboard". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster.
  7. ^ "Weekend Box Office : 'Under Siege' Opens in No. 2 Spot". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 13, 2011.
  8. ^ The Indian in the Cupboard (1995) - Box office / business

External links[edit]