Movie Review by Debbie Winkler
Starring: Hal Scardino, Litefoot, Lindsay Crouse, Richard Jenkins, David Keith
Director: Frank Oz
Release Date: 14 July 1995
Length: 96 minutes
Movie Rating: PG
View Format: TV
My Rating: 3/5 stars
“Nine-year-old Omri (Hal Scardino) gets some odd gifts for his birthday: a wooden cupboard, antique keys and a figure of an Iroquois warrior. Much to Omri’s surprise, the figurine – known as Little Bear (Litefoot) – comes to life overnight in the cabinet. Omri shares his secret with best pal Patrick (Rishi Bhat), who promptly locks a toy cowboy (David Keith) in with Little Bear. Will the boys learn any lessons as they try to make peace between the cowboy and the Indian?” — Netflix.com
This is a surprisingly cute movie version of the classic children’s book. Okay, so it doesn’t really have anything to do with the book other than basic premise, but if you can get past that, it is plenty enjoyable. The characters pretty much looked like what I envisioned, though the lead boy is a lot dorkier looking than what I had in mind! This is not what I would call an exciting movie as there is not a lot that happens, really, but I think it was quite charming. At first, putting toys in the magic cupboard and watching them come to life is a big adventure, but then Omri ((Hal Scardino) realizes that these are real people, with real lives that he has taken them away from. When one toy dies after he is brought to life, he has to seriously reconsider what he is doing. He really wants to keep Little Bear (Litefoot), the Indian he brought to life first, but is that really what is best for Little Bear? This movie does deal with some serious issues about responsibility, right vs. wrong, the power of creation and more. Children will not realize that they are learning about these topics while they watch the movie, but I think that everyone will realize that the little boy made the right choice in the end.
The actors perform capably, if not with distinction, and the special effects were quite good. By special effects I really mean the scale differences between our world and the little toys’ perspectives. I also appreciate that the screenwriters attempted to include a little bit of historical information about Indian life and to show Native Americans in a positive light. The story is brought to a child’s level without taking away the enjoyment that adults will find in this family-oriented film. This is a good choice for a family-night rental, especially if you have little boys in the house.
There are a few verbal arguments between the young boys (Omri and his best friend, Patrick), some name calling, typical sibling disagreements between Omri and his older brothers, a few MTV videos showing sexy dancing, fighting between the toys, mild violence including arrows and gunshots. Recommended for viewers ages 6 and up.