In perhaps Disney’s most original and unorthodox animated release, Lilo and Stitch is at once a wonderfully entertaining, humerous and touching film. The film focuses on a small Alien creation known as “Experiment 626”, later named “Stitch” (voiced by creator, writer and co-director Chris Sanders) when adopted by troubled little Lilo (voiced by the adorable Daveigh Chase) on the island of Hawaii.
The film opens with 626 and his creator, Dr. Jumbah (voiced by David Ogden Stiers), on trial for Jumbah illegally creating him. The alien government concludes that 626 is a threat and is to be exiled to a distant asteroid or lifeless planet. However, 626 escapes in a red shuttlecraft and randomly punches in coordinates on its hyperdrive. The government tracks his course and realizes he will land on the small Hawaiian islands on Earth. In a delightful spin on Men in Black and other UFO tales, the aliens are unable to go to Earth in force to retrieve 626, because it is a “protected wildlife preserve” for mysquitos, which sets up a well-paid off explanation in the films final scenes. Jumbah is offered a parole for his crimes in exchange for tracking down his creation, and he immediately sets out for Earth along with Agent Pleakley (voiced by Kevin McDonald).
In the tradition of The Little Mermaid, the film finally goes to a wonderful opening titles sequence (about 10 minutes in), as we meet adorable little Lilo, who is running late for her hola-dancing class after swimming. She inadvertingly screws up the routine for everyone, and after being made fun of by a classmate, she unexpectedly jumps onto her and begins wailing on her. This is a unique Disney heroine, and we begin to realize that this isn’t your typical disney animated feature. After being repremanded, Lilo is told by her dance instructor to wait for her older sister, Nani (voiced by Tia Carrere) to pick her up. After being ignored and again made fun of by her classmates, Lilo begins walking home. Her sister comes running home looking for her, but is unable to get in, as Lilo has nailed the doors shut while she listens to depressing Elvis Presley music. When Nani yells for Lilo to let her in, she answers (in another unique disney moment) “Just leave me alone to die!”
As Nani tries to reprimand Lilo, a social servies worker named Cobra Bubbles (voiced by Ving Rhames) arrives to evaluate the troubled siblings home life. A series of humerous disasters ensues as the inspection occurs, complete with Lilo attempting voo-doo on her classmates. We quickly begin to discover the two sisters aren’t doing well at all living on there own since there parents death a short time ago. Bubbles leaves and informs Nani she has a few days to convince him she can look after her younger sister responsibly. Later on, as the two sisters share a tender moment (and where we learn of Lilo’s obsession with taking pictures of obese people), they see a green light and then hear an explosion. We cut to the crash site to see 626 running down to crater’s side and onto the road where he quickly draws four laser guns on a frog and then is hilariously startled when it starts to rain, and attempts to blast the rain drops. Moments later he is hit by a semi truck and brought to an animal shelter, and tries to disguise himself as a dog. Lilo ends up adopting him, and the two begin to form a unique, but special bond as 626 (now officially named Stitch) begins to ignore his programming and learn what it means to be in a family.
The remainder of the film never disappoints and is easily the most unique of Disney’s films. One delightful surprise after another occurs, leading to one of the most thrilling finales you could ever expect from a simple animated movie. It is a simple and adorable story about a troubled, lonesome little girl who befriends this creature, who learns to care for her as well. The overriding theme of the movie is family, and the Ohana phrase gets repeated about a half-dozen times. The characters are all unique and each scene has you trying to guess what will happen next. Probably the thing I love the most is that it is 2-D (aka hand-drawn animation) and didn’t overdue it with computer effects. As a result it looks like a wonderful children’s story brought to life, and one you want to revisit again and again and again.