Disney's Lilo and Stitch (2002) Review

The poster for Lilo and Stitch, which shows several Disney characters looking on in horror at the adorable and mischievous Stitch.

   Lilo and Stitch (2002) is an animated science-fiction comedy-drama film, directed by Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois, who also wrote it. This film is an absolute delight, from its top-notch animation (as expected from Disney) to its unique plot and setting that differs it from the magic of most Disney pictures and sets this in a more 'realistic' world despite the aliens and ray guns. Set in Hawaii, this is the tale of a quirky little girl and her older sister acting as her caretaker, who end up adopting an alien experiment disguised as a puppy. The genuine drama and comedy of the script, the masterful voice acting, stunning animation, and a fun soundtrack including several Elvis songs and a great score by Alan Silvestri, all add up to a brilliant animated feature.
STORY: 4.5/5 Stars. The story for Lilo and Stitch is well written and paced, full of fun moments as well as heartbreaking ones. It combines elements of sci-fi, family drama, and comedy to make a well-rounded and fun experience. The film opens with alien scientist Jumba is arrested and tried for illicit genetic experimentation by the Galactic Council, of the Galactic Federation. Their proof: One of Jumba's genetically-engineered monsters, a fluffy blue creature known only as Experiment 626. Said by Jumba to be able to cause untold destruction, the creature and its creator are both locked away. When Experiment 626 finds a clever way to escape captivity, the Federation attempts to stop him. 626 evades military attempts to capture him and steals a police ship, escaping the Federation's massive fleets by jumping across space. The Federation tracks him as he is launched towards the far away planet Earth, where it seems at first he'll crash into the ocean and drown. To their dismay, he lands on Hawaii, and so the Federation sends Jumba and Agent Pleakley, the Federation's resident expert on Earth, to capture Experiment 626 before he causes havoc on the planet.
626 menaces the council with his antics even while trapped in a glass bubble.

   Meanwhile, on the same island that 626 crashes at, a young woman name Nani is struggling to care fore her younger sister, Lilo. Lilo causes trouble at the dance class she attends, and when she runs home and locks herself in the house, Nani arrives, furious that she is unable to get into the house. Unfortunately, at the same time a Government social worker named Cobra Bubbles arrives. Bubbles is displeased with how Nani has been caring for Lilo, and warns that if she doesn't start taking adequate care of her, he will have to take Lilo away. After an argument between the sisters, Lilo is seen late at night wishing upon a bright green falling star, hoping for a friend. The green falling star is revealed to be 626's stolen police cruiser, which crashes near a freeway. Stitch survives the crash and laughs maniacally as he escapes the wreckage, only to be knocked unconscious by a huge truck.
Cobra Bubbles warns Nani about taking better care of Lilo.

Seeking a change, Nani agrees to allow Lilo to adopt a dog. She takes her to the animal shelter where Experiment 626 was brought. Disguising himself as a dog, 626 approaches Lilo in the kennel, and she takes an immediate liking towards him. Naming the alien Stitch, she takes him home and shows him around. While Nani searches for a job, as per instructed by the Social Worker, Lilo tries to show Stitch, whose destructive nature becomes apparent quickly, how to be a 'model citizen', dressing him up like Elvis and teaching him to be like the famous rock star. They are followed by Jumba and Pleakley, who are attempting to apprehend the small furry fugitive. Stitch's antics lead to more anger and confusion as he accidentally foils Nani's attempts to get a job.
Lilo attempts to discipline a rambunctious Stitch.

Stitch demolishes a San Fransisco model he created, pretending to be a huge monster.
Stitch attempts to imitate the family's activities, hoping to be like them.

   David, a friend of Nani, invites Nani, Lilo, and Stitch to take a break from their horrible day by going surfing with him. As they do, Stitch starts to enjoy it, but Jumba and Pleakley are on his tail, and they attempt to apprehend him from underwater, which causes everyone to fall into the ocean. Everyone gets to shore safely, but Bubbles had witnessed the entire thing, and informs Nani that Lilo will have to be taken to a foster home, despite Nani's attempts to provide a good life for her. The next morning, David tells Nani of a job opportunity, and she rushes out of the house so she can hopefully become employed. Meanwhile, Stitch encounters Jumba and Pleakley in the woods. He retreats back home and tries to warn Lilo, meanwhile Jumba and Pleakley break in to attempt to apprehend the small beast. This results in the house being destroyed, and Bubbles arrives on the scene to take Lilo away. Nani argues with him, and Lilo runs away into the woods, where she encounters Stitch. Stitch reveals his true identity to her, just before Captain Gantu, a giant alien from the Federation, arrives and captures them both. Stitch escapes capture, leaving Lilo aboard Gantu's ship. Nani furiously interrogates him, demanding to know what is going on, and just as he tries to explain, Jumba and Pleakley arrive to capture Stitch themselves. Nani breaks down over the loss of Lilo, but Stitch manages to comfort her, and convinces his two captors to help him get Lilo back. Together they take Jumba's ship and rush after Captain Gantu, and manage to rescue Lilo from his capture. Stitch distracts Gantu, and his ship crashes into the ocean.
Jumba and Pleakley capture Stitch.

Meanwhile on land, the Grand Councilwoman of the Federation arrives herself to apprehend Stitch personally. She finds however that Stitch has become civilized when he explains that he found a family in Lilo and Nani. Lilo also proves that taking Stitch would be theft, and shows the Councilwoman her adoption papers that she signed at the shelter. The Councilwoman decides that Stitch will live in exhile on Earth with his new family, and instructs Cobra Bubbles, whom turns out to be an ex-CIA Agent who had met her in 1973, to watch over them. The Federation leaves Earth, and together everyone helps to rebuild the house, and they become one big happy family. 
ACTING: 4.5/5 Stars. The voice acting in this Disney picture is nothing short of amazing. Chris Sanders' is entertaining as the voice of Stitch, and really all the actors do a fantastic job. From David Ogden Stiers's fitting foreign accent for Jumba, to the real emotion given to Lilo and Nani by Daveigh Chase and Tia Carrere respectively, to Kevin Micheal Richardson's intimidating performance for giant Captain Gantu and Zoe Caldwell's authoritative voice for the Grand Councilwoman, the Gray leader of the Federation. There are virtually no complaints about the voice acting, it's all done beautifully, and just what you'd expect from a family film by Disney.
ANIMATION: 5/5 Stars. Disney's animation for this cartoon is perfect.The art direction is just wonderful. The designs of the aliens, especially Stitch, are really interesting, all of them unique. Stitch is just the most adorable little alien, his almost Koala-like face is so endearing, along with is wacky antics. The scenes with the spaceships are amazingly done as well, everything from the ships to the ray guns have a very retro feel to them. The ships are curved and have fins sticking out at various angles, the ray guns have that classic round look, and all the alien technology is bright and colorful. The humans meanwhile are also drawn exceptionally well, they're well-proportioned and for the most part realistic, but also have that bit of cartoon fun to them. The animation itself is crisp and smooth, just pure eye-candy all throughout.
Stitch aims classic ray guns at a frog. The bright colors on both the weapons and his jumpsuit are very cool-looking.

The Federation's massive fleet of ships have a very retro sci-fi look to them. They almost look less like a Disney creation and more along the lines of something like Futurama.
MUSIC: 4/5 Stars. The music in this film is great. Often the montage scenes are accompanied by various Elvis works, and those songs just add to the hilarity of those scenes. In addition, there are a couple of Hawaiian-style songs as well that really add to the setting. Also, Alan Silvestri provides a great cinematic score to accompany the action, drama and emotion. It's a subtle score, with few memorable themes, but it does its job and does it well. The Elvis Presley songs are the most notable bits of music in the movie.
ENJOYABILITY: 5/5 Stars. This is one of my favorite Disney films, and all the elements mentioned above combine to make a really fun movie to watch. Great for kids and adults, it's full of comedy, drama, action, and I personally still really enjoy it just as much as I did when I was a kid. It was great in 2002, and it's still great now. Highly recommended.

Comments

  1. Great review! You make it sound like so much fun.

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