Lilo & Stitch (2002) / Animation-Adventure
MPAA Rated: PG for mild sci-fi action
Running Time: 112 min.
Cast (voices): Daveigh Chase, Chris Sanders, Tia Carrere, David Ogden Stiers, Ving Rhames
Director: Dean DeBlois, Chris Sanders
Screenplay: Chris Sanders, Dean DeBlois
Review published June 22, 2002
I'll file this in the "I wasn't prepared to like it, but dammit, it won me over" category of films, where it joins many other films by Disney or in the Disney tradition. Actually it didn't win me over right away, as I felt the protagonists were harsh or whiny and it looked like I was in for 90 minutes of tedious squabbling. Give Disney their due, the character actually turned out to be three dimensional, with strengths and weaknesses and, more importantly, a mind of their own. By the end of the film, I resolved myself to the fact that I did care what happened to the characters and surrendered my standoffish posture to join the fun. Don't worry, I forgave myself in the morning.
Genetic experiment #626 (voiced by writer-director Sanders) was created by Dr. Jumba (Stiers, The Majestic) in a faraway planetary system than our own in order to destroy cities, a cute, furry creature but strong and nearly indestructible. Having been told not to create such a creature, Jumba is sentenced to prison, meanwhile 626 escapes and heads toward Earth, landing on one of the Hawaiian islands where there are no cities to destroy and is surrounded by water, and 626 can't swim. Jumba and Pleakley (McDonald, Sky High), a scientist who has studied Earth, are sent to capture 626 in exchange for their freedom, but 626 has been adopted by Lilo (Chase, Spirited Away), a local young Hawaiian girl who needs companionship after losing her friends. Lilo is being raised by her older sister, but the child welfare agent is suspicious of Lilo's upbringing, and monitors the situation closely. Lilo dubs 626 the name Stitch, and Stitch's aggressive personality isn't helping anyone's situation.
Lilo is a fun and funny family adventure that is simple yet enjoyable. The animation is colorful, although typical, but the characters are cute in a Monsters Inc. kind of way. The lush setting of Hawaii along with the interesting other worldly nature provide nice escapism, and while the original songs aren't particularly memorable, the multitudinous Elvis songs fill in the need nicely. Lilo and Stitch is far from classic Disney, but it is entertaining and cute, and near impossible to dislike. Recommended for the young and young-at-heart.
©2002 Vince Leo