The Indian in the Cupboard

A highly Americanized and extremely bland adaptation of Lynne Reid Banks's English novel for children, about a nine-year-old boy (Hal Scardino) who discovers he can bring plastic toy figures to life inside a small cupboard. I haven't read the novel, but I gather that one of the key differences in this version from writer Melissa Mathison and director Frank Oz is a sort of fractured multiculturalism whereby the hero gets to keep a real-life miniature Indian as a pet and a nonwhite kid (an Indian from India, played by Rishi Bhat) gets to keep a real-life white cowboy (David Keith) to even things up. The premise has its enjoyable aspects, but the casting and direction of actors here (not to mention the extremely narrow sense of character) seem so misconceived that the title Indian, though played by a member of the Cherokee nation named Litefoot, seems unconvincing throughout; the other little people aren't much better, and Lindsay Crouse as the hero's mother seems totally wasted. Hunt down Tod Browning's The Devil-Doll, James Whale's The Bride of Frankenstein, or even Ernest Schoedsack's Dr. Cyclops or Jack Arnold's The Incredible Shrinking Man for a much more enjoyable exploration of the same theme with more imaginative special effects.

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