Lilo & Stitch Movie Review

There are three essential elements for a polished Disney animated film: rich and detailed animation, inspirational music that is catchy and clever, and a clear message that is easy to understand. Alas, Disney's latest, Lilo & Stitch, fails to live up to any of these.

Lilo & Stitch tells the story of two outcasts searching for a place to fit in. Lilo is a young Hawaiian girl who is shunned by her friends because she picks fights and plays unfairly. Her older sister, Nani, is raising her because their parents died in a car crash. The social worker assigned to their case has threatened to remove Lilo from Nani's care because she cannot control Lilo's poor behavior. It sounds like the prototypical dysfunctional American family - how un-Disney-like!

Experiment 626 (Stitch) is an alien inventor's experiment gone bad. The superiors on his planet Turo cannot tolerate 626's wild behavior, so they deport him into the dark universe. He mistakenly lands on Earth and eventually makes his way to a local animal shelter on the same day that Lilo visits the shelter looking for a new dog. Lilo adopts 626, mistaking him for a puppy, and names him Stitch.

Despite coming from two totally different worlds, Lilo and Stitch suffer from the same problems. The film's central theme stresses that the meaning of family is that no one should be left behind or forgotten. Unfortunately, this theme gets neglected in the film's numerous plot complications and scenes of cartoon violence. Namely, an alien army from Turo is sent to Earth to remove Stitch using whatever means possible, including firing gun-like weapons at little Stitch in the hopes of slowing or killing him.

Lilo & Stitch features three original songs and a bunch of pre-recorded Elvis Presley numbers. The original songs of all Disney animated films are generally meant to reinforce the film's central theme, but in Lilo & Stitch the songs have nothing to do with its theme and are far from memorable. The film also lacks the really crisp animation synonymous with other Disney films. Here, the animation retains its sharpness in the foreground, but backgrounds are often out of focus or inexplicably half-drawn. Overall, though the message is solid, it is too convoluted and graphic, and even more unfortunately, the music is uninspired and the animation is generic.

The DVD features a gaggle of extras, mostly making-of sequences having to do with Hawaii and the film's authenticity in this regard. The four original trailers for the film -- wherein Stitch destroys various classic Disney scenes -- are fairly priceless.

Sorry Stitch, you're going home.


Lilo & Stitch Rating

" Terrible "

Rating: PG, 2002


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