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Film / The Indian in the Cupboard

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The Indian in the Cupboard is a 1995 film adaptation of the book series by the same name, directed by Frank Oz. The story follows the first book, documenting Omri's acquiring the cupboard and his initial encounters with the magic it contains.

Provides examples of:

  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Boone is described as having red hair in the book, and is played by dark-haired David Keith in the film.
  • Adaptational Nationality: The setting is changed from London to New York City, making Omri and his family and friends American instead of British. Patrick is also of East Indian descent.
  • Adaptational Name Change: Omri's two brothers Adiel and Gillon go by the nicknames "A.D." and "Gilly," which they don't in the books.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: Little Bear is calmer, more dignified, and less of a belligerent Jerk with a Heart of Gold than in the novel. The fact that his original broken English is replaced by more fluent English enhances this change.
  • Adapted Out: Bright Stars. In the book Omri brings a female Indian figurine to life to be a companion to Little Bear, but in the film Little Bear talks Omri out of it, explaining that she may already have a husband and child of her own.
  • All Just a Dream: Every time Omri brings Tommy to life in order to treat wounds, he assures him that he's just dreaming.
  • Brick Joke: Omri's brother A.D. begs their dad for a skylight; when Omri goes to his room later in the film to confront him about the stolen cupboard, A.D. is lying on his bed admiring his brand-new skylight.
  • Captain Obvious:
    Patrick: Don't bring [Little Bear and Boone] together. You know, cowboys and Indians?
    Omri: Duh!
  • Chekhov's Gun: Gillon's pet rat. Omri already has a clear dislike for it, but it becomes a serious threat later on.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Tommy the war medic. Omri brings his figurine to life in order to treat Little Bear after the latter is injured, and he's later needed in order to save Boone's life.
  • Comes Great Responsibility: Omri learns quickly and harshly that he's actually dealing with real people. It hits him hard when he accidentally scares the elderly Indian to death. It takes Patrick much longer to figure it out.
  • Cool Versus Awesome: Why else would there be a brief scene of Darth Vader fighting a T.rex?
  • Cute Giants: Omri and Patrick, from Little Bear and Boone's perspective. Boone addresses them as "friendly giants" in parting.
  • Dangled by a Giant: Happens from Boone's perspective when Omri lifts him up to stop the initial confrontation between the cowboy and Little Bear.
  • Dream Deception: Both times Omri transforms Tommy the British Army medic figurine into a living person with the cupboard, Omri tells him he's dreaming to avoid having to explain summoning him out of World War I into a two-inch-tall body.
  • Due to the Dead: After the Indian chief dies, Little Bear prepares his body (well, his plastic figure anyway) in the tradition of his people and then helps Omri to give him a proper burial.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: "Boo-hoo" Boone got his nickname for his self-attributed "soft heart".
  • Hollywood Heart Attack: Happens to an old Indian chief that Omri brings to life solely for the purpose of taking his bow and arrows for Little Bear to use.
  • Hollywood Natives: Mostly subverted by Little Bear. However, when Omri brings to life a figurine of a World War I medic named Tommy to tend to a wound of his, he greets Little Bear with, "How!", much to Little Bear's confusion.
  • Idiot Ball: Patrick, just like in the books, is incredibly prone to this. Most notably when he starts bragging about the little men when he gets them at school.
  • Ignored Confession: Omri's chronicling of Little Bear in his writing class is dismissed as a product of a good imagination.
  • Jump Scare: After Little Bear successfully evades the escaped rat and retrieves the key from underneath the floorboards, he's barely got a few moments to catch his breath before the rat leaps out of the hole directly at him (and the viewer!). Luckily Patrick catches the rat in time.
  • Lame Comeback: Omri to a punk bully who harasses him in the street.
    "You don't deserve that hair!"
    • Makes more sense in context because the bully's hair is a mohawk, and it was a Mohawk who had just died in front of him a scene ago.
  • Living Toys: The cupboard turns plastic toys into the things they stand in for, real flesh and blood and fabric. Little Bear, the old Mohawk, Boone, and Tommy seem to have been summoned out of their respective time periods, and they are shocked to find themselves in a differently-scaled world. However, Omri also briefly experiments with animating action figures of Darth Vader, RoboCop, a T-rex, and a Cardassian and Ferengi, for which no explanation is offered (on account of Omri going "Oh, Crap!" when they all stop attacking each other and turn to look at him, and slamming the cupboard door shut).
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Little Bear, after accidentally shooting Boone during the Western the boys were watching (which showed Native Americans getting shot at).
  • No More for Me: Boone's initial reaction to ending up in Omri's room is to assume he's delirious from too much alcohol and vows never to drink again. Then he sees Omri and Patrick and immediately changes his mind.
  • Not a Game: In two incidents, one character combines this with What the Hell, Hero? toward another.
    • Little Bear yells at Omri, after witnessing his carelessness that caused an old Indian chief to die.
      "You should not do magic you do not understand!"
    • Omri, having learned his lesson, later gives Patrick a similar warning.
      "They're people! You can't use people!"
  • Outliving One's Offspring: It's implied that Little Bear had a wife and a child who both died of smallpox in his own time. He only overtly mentions his wife, but he speaks of longing for "another little child."
  • Party in My Pocket: Omri brings Boone and Little Bear to school in a fanny pack.
  • Product Placement: Aside from the Star Wars/RoboCop example above (it also has a Cardassian and a Ferengi from Star Trek). Aracula from Skeleton Warriors and Limburger from Biker Mice from Mars are prominently shown and used as replacements in the school's diorama. Amusingly, despite Omri's best attempts to hide it, no one seems to notice the switch.
  • Rearing Horse: Darling, Boone's horse, is positioned like this as a plastic figurine. When brought to life, she leaps out of the cupboard as soon as it's opened.
  • Tempting Fate: Patrick says the word "Indian" in front of Boone. This causes Boone to become aware of Little Bear's presence, and they start attacking each other.
  • Title Drop: One of the very first lines in Omri's story contains this.
    Omri (reading aloud): I put a plastic Indian in the cupboard...
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Boone, after he and Little Bear get to talking with each other.
  • You Dirty Rat!: Gillon's rat, which Omri hates with a passion.
  • You No Take Candle: Averted: unlike in the original novel, Little Bear's English is almost perfect.