Lilo & Stitch

Review Date:
Director: Chris Sanders, Dean Deblois
Writer: Chris Sanders, Dean Deblois
Producers: Clark Spencer
Daveigh Chase as Lilo, Chris Sanders as Stitch, Tia Carrere as Nani
A wickedly mutated space alien whose only purpose it to destroy, escapes to our planet and bunks up with a lonely Hawaiian girl and her big sister. Unfortunately for him, there are two hunters from his home planet who have followed him and have orders to bring him back. Elvis tunes, lots of destruction and a moral about the importance of family…ensues.
Despite starting off slowly and taking its time to generate a nice rhythm and connection to its characters, this film ultimately won me over with its heartfelt message, awesome soundtrack (yeah baby, it’s mostly Elvis tunes!), many colorful characters and its crème-de-la-crème: Stitch! This little alien bugger didn’t grab me by the cajones off the top either, but once things got rolling on Earth, he genuinely got under my skin with his “tear-into-anything-I-can” attitude, his cutesy voice, his indestructible nature and his ability to transform into the King of Rock ‘n Roll or a surfer in a snap. I also really liked how the screenplay showed his evolution from complete and utter destructo machine to a being who appreciated the love, support and bonding attachment of family. What’s funny is that this film’s motto about “never leaving anyone behind” is the same as last year’s Ridley Scott action-war extravaganza, BLACK HAWK DOWN, but with a “slightly” different tone, of course. One thing many animated flicks haven’t scored at of late is the ultimate “bad guy” figure, and even though this one didn’t feature one real mean son-of-a-bitch either, it did offer various nasty dudes who developed interesting personalities respectively. Ving Rhames’ PULP FICTION redux character was one of them, with a cool suit, cool attitude and cold heart, his voice struck all the right chords. There were also a couple of goofy aliens who were fun to watch, as well as a huge mutha alien who looked and felt like he could pulverize anything in his track (except for Stitch, of course).

The beautiful Hawaiian landscape, beach and culture also added to the “fun” aspect of the picture, and even though neither of the three “human” leads were especially engaging, the whole family angle touched me enough to care about them all in the end (on an interesting side-note, both Tia Carrere and her boyfriend in the film, Jason Scott Lee, are born in Hawaii in real life). The last 20 minutes of the movie are also an all-out blast with action, escapes and captures up the wazoo, and a nice conclusion to render it all complete. I think this film will definitely appeal to kids because the two lead characters are easily identifiable. Stitch is a mischievous menace to all around him and Lilo is a lonely girl who feels alienated among her peers. Even I could identify with these rascals. The friendship and love that develops between them should also work for adults, as well as the minor laughs and major giggles throughout-note the MULAN poster on Nani’s bedroom wall and the various nods to other flicks like MIB, JAWS and GODZILLA. And even though the animation is pretty plain, it does the job and completes this fun-loving, Elvis-injected, wholesome message movie quite well. I will say that your connection, tolerance or in my case, appreciation for the Stitch character is likely to bolster your opinion of the film one way or the other. He’s a big part of the movie and if he gets on your nerves, chances are that you will likely not enjoy the rest of the film either. Not as creative or exciting as its original teaser trailers (which injected Stitch into various other Disney animation movies), but still an enjoyable time at the theaters.

(c) 2021 Berge Garabedian