Lilo & Stitch
Starring the voices of:
Daveigh Chase, Chris Sanders, Tia Carrere, David Ogden Stiers, Ving Rhames
Directed By:
Chris Sanders, Dean DeBlois
Grade
A-

As the movie starts, we witness the mad alien scientist, Jumba (David Ogden Stiers), going on trial for genetic experimentation. His creation, Experiment 626, is a six-legged destruction machine who's impervious to harm, but oddly cute and surly at the same time. Jumba is imprisoned and 626 gets exiled, but en route to exile, he breaks free and steals a ship. 626 crash lands on Earth and gets adopted by Lilo, a lonely Hawaiian girl who lives with her sister, Nani. The two sisters live a dysfunctional life, their parents having died in a car wreck and the Child Welfare social worker, a burly man by the name of Cobra Bubbles, informs Nani that living conditions need to improve or she'll lose custody of her sister.

Lilo gives 626 the name Stitch and tries as hard as she can to reform the surly troublemaker, even trying to model him after Elvis Presley, her ideal of the model citizen. Stitch's programming makes him want to seek out large cities and cause havok, but since he finds himself on the Hawaiian island with no major cities at his disposal, he takes out his destructive needs on the locals, interfering with Lilo and Nani's life. All the while, Jumba has been released to recapture the beast, but he must do it without harming the local wildlife.

The backgrounds are wonderfully illustrated to mimic watercolor paintings and the overall design of the film has a nice natural feel to it. Everything is colorful and bright. The character design is both simple but works wonderfully with the story. The animation really sells the humanity given to the characters. Certain scenes are funny in just that the physical reactions of the characters come across as such a good imitation of real people.

Lilo & Stitch proves that Disney can actually make a cute film with characters that aren't model citizens. All the characters have their own little "grayness" to them - they're neither all bad nor all good. Stitch is a destructive beast who ends up just wanting a place in the universe and a family. Lilo is a lonely troublemaker who doesn't mean to do harm. Nani tries her hardest to take care of Lilo, but she is a far better sister than a parent.

Outside of the rather convenient ending (everything gets wrapped up too easily), Lilo & Stitch is a wonderful film that any parent will be willing to take their child to. It's both funny and cute, even if a little socially deviant from time to time. Only a seasoned grump won't walk out of this film with a smile.

- - Kinderfeld

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