The second-best movie about toys coming to life released in 1995, although not by the margin one might think, The Indian in the Cupboard is one of the least pandering and most socially progressive children's films ever released. While it may lack Toy Story's sense of carefree fun, in deference to a warm multicultural message about resolution of differences and respect for heritage, it makes up for that in sheer earnestness of purpose. Frank Oz's return to children's fare after a string of adult comedies is actually very much an adult entity in its own right. Rarely has a children's movie dealt so honestly with issues of death and the consequences of violence; instead of playing it soft, Oz astutely transforms these challenging topics into unobtrusive lessons. The film may be square in spots, but they are few. Not only does veteran special effects supervisor Michael Lantieri handle the miniaturization with subtle efficiency, but Oz coaxes an absolutely true performance from doe-eyed child actor Hal Scardino as a seamless complement. Native American actor Litefoot also brings real feeling to a role that could have been one-dimensional in less skillful hands. The narrative agenda of author Lynne Reid Banks -- namely, her challenge of cultural generalizations -- is evident in even the most minute design details. For example, the Caucasian boy is named Omri, while his Asian-Indian friend goes by the WASPish name Patrick (and also refers to his friend's mother by her first name). It's a joy to watch the film move from something so apparently basic toward something so effortlessly multi-textured.