Lilo And Stitch - Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois

Disney's latest animated feature has attitude to spare.

Take a range of diverse characters, from an aggressive little alien to an adorable little troubled orphan girl obsessed with Elvis. Add loads of laughter, and then add the name Walt Disney to that, and you end up with the perfect recipe for a fun-filled family entertainer. “Lilo and Stitch” is not your typical run-off-the-mill Disney Animated Production. With its unique and original storyline, mixing sci-fi with comedy, it serves as the perfect dose of good, clean, light-hearted humour.

The story begins somewhere far, far, away, on the planet Turo. An idiot scientist (who considers himself an evil genius) named Jumba (David Ogden Stiers), creates a genetic experiment, a destructive and dangerous little monster which he names Experiment 626 (Christopher Michael Sanders) and programs to destroy everything in its path. Due to his unethical and dangerous scientific research, Jumba is placed under arrest, and his evil abomination is sent into exile. However, 626 manages to blast his way out and escape, only to end up crash landing on Earth, in beautiful Hawaii. Jumba, along with a geeky little alien named Pleakley (Kevin McDonald), are sent to earth on a mission to capture 626, and get him back to Turo.

Meanwhile, in Hawaii itself, there lives a lonely and trouble orphaned girl named Lilo (Daveigh Chase), who is being raised by her elder sister, Nani (Tia Carrere). Nani, who has now become the sole income provider for the family, is exasperated with her sister’s troublesome behaviour, and is trying her best to keep her from being taken away to a foster home by social worker Cobra Bubbles (Ving Rhames). Lilo, in turn, is a distraught girl coming to terms with a lot of problems in her life, especially her parents’ untimely death, and the real need of a friend. In order to pacify her little sister, Nani decides to buy her a dog, which she thinks would serve as a good companion to lonely Lilo. As fate would have it, she ends up with the little alien 626, who poses as a mutt in order to take refuge from the two relentless hunters out to capture him. Lilo gives 626 the new name “Stitch”, and adopts him as their family dog.

Programmed only to destroy, Stitch proves to be far from a little bundle of joy for the sisters, wreaking some crazy havoc, and putting the sisters into some very difficult situations. However, in time, Lilo manages to teach the little monster the importance of love and family. There is a lot of emphasis on the Hawaiian concept of ohana, which means in a family, no one gets left behind. Lilo and Stitch, both being lonely, and in need of a friend, slowly learn to find comfort in each other’s company, which blossoms into a close friendship. Gradually, Stitch finds a greater need for love and to be accepted, than to destroy.

“Lilo and Stitch” includes some great animation, and uses watercolour background design, a technique last used by Disney in the 1940s. The environment and setting created in the animation is quite impressive. A lot of intricate details have been taken care of in animating the background and the characters themselves.

The characterization in the movie is also done fairly well, with a talented voice cast, including Tia Carrere and Ving Rhames, each adding just the right blend to suit the personality of the characters and the way they are portrayed on screen.

The storyline and screenplay are brilliant, and very original. Apart from the typical cartoon humour and slapstick comedy, there are quite a few unexpected and original jokes, which will definitely have you in splits. There are also a lot of references to Elvis Presley throughout the movie. However, the story does tend to drag a bit here and there, which I think is the movie’s only real drawback.

“Lilo and Stitch” also boasts of a great soundtrack, including six hit songs by the King himself. Composer Alan Silvestri provides the original score of the movie, and there is also some collaboration by Hawaiian hula performer Mark Keali’I Ho’omalu on two Hawaiian theme songs. The music adds just the right feel and intensity to the movie, making it all the more enjoyable.

In my opinion, “Lilo and Stitch” is an enjoyable, fun-filled adventure, meant for all audiences. The movie includes some great humour, an excellent storyline where sci-fi meets comedy, some memorable characters (my personal favourites being Bubbles and Stitch), and some very impressive animation. It also manages to drive home a good message on love and family to all viewers, whether kids or adults. If you are in the mood for some good, light-hearted comedy, “Lilo and Stitch” is definitely the right movie to watch.

This article was first published on 06 Oct 2002.