Rated: PG Reviewed by: Frank Release date: July 14, 1995 Released by: Paramount Pictures Corporation
Told from a child's point of view, the excitement and mystery of creating a three-inch tall Indian from a toy has all the aspects of a child's imagination. The original award winning book, written by Lyne Reid Banks, appeals to the child in all of us. Anyone with any portion of child remaining in them can see the possibilities of having a miniature Indian and cowboy available to play with and talk to at will - what an opportunity.
The screenplay and direction by Frank Oz maintains a gentleness and intellectual view of the fantasy. This is a masterful story telling for kids which adults can relate to. It is ultimately Omri's tale to his school class which is filled with lessons for everyone.
Omri (Hal Scardino) gets more than he expected from his toys as the come alive. Each has been snatched from a real life from the past. Lightfoot plays Little Bear whose reality is one where Europeans haven't yet become a threat to Native Americans. He wants to return to his Onodaga tribe of the 1700s and raise a family. Boone is a 19th century cowboy played by David Keith (Major League). He begins with a clear racist attitude but learns the racist attitude but learns the stupidity of it and that true friends can learn to understand each other's sensitivities.
The cowboy and Indian are three inches tall which is 1/24 of the real size. That leads to the use of some interesting special effects and the irritating part of the film, which is the constant full screen view of Omri's face.
Omri's family is made up of Lindsay Crouse (Places in the Heart) as his mother who reads with him at night and Richard Jenkins (It Could Happen to You) as the father who checks on Omri each night before he turns in. Omri is part of a well adjusted loving family. Rishi Bhat plays Patrick, Omri's friend and only confidant when it comes to the little people. The adventure is Omri's transition from childhood to adolescence. He learns to be compassionate and observant through the eyes of Little Bear. Little Bear's experience requires adapting to the environment and he is better able to adapt to this strange change in which he believes Omri is a great spirit but eventually learns that he is just a boy. Little Bear then begins to teach Omri the lesson that we can all learn from each other.
Oz crafts a vision from a child's mind and from the eyes of two men from the past who have been transplanted to today and miniaturized. The special cupboard and secret key are all part of this interesting childhood adventure. It moves slowly at times but it is intriguing and interesting for everyone.
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