In Lilo & Stitch, a lonely Hawaiian girl finds a friend after an alien fugitive crash-lands nearby.
Dr. Jumba Jookiba is under galactic trial for illegal experimentation and his experiment #626 is used as evidence of this, a creature of his own design. Jookiba is to be transported to prison and 626 is to be sent to an abandoned asteroid, but 626 takes escapes from the ship and ends up landing on Earth, in the Hawaiian Islands. 626 gets hit by a truck and is taken to an animal hospital, thinking it’s a weird breed of dog. A young girl named Lilo, who is being taken care of by her older sister, adopts 626 and names him “Stitch”. As the galactic council searches for 626, Lilo and Stitch bond and they learn the true meaning of ‘ohana (family).
When my wife (then girlfriend) and I traveled to Disney World about 6 years ago, Lilo & Stitch merchandise was freaking everywhere and we felt kind of out of the loop since we hadn’t seen it. Flash forward to present day and we decided we needed to finally see Lilo & Stitch before heading to Disney World again. Neither of us were very impressed by the film, and Stitch had a lessened presence, but at least we understood it.
Oddly enough, Lilo & Stitch is the film that brought back the use of watercolor painted backgrounds in Disney features, a practice mostly given up around the 1940s. The animation style is also unique to Disney films and even the character design is atypical. I found the entire art style pretty fantastic and when the story started to bore me I found myself staring at all the backgrounds. It is easily the strongest single aspect of Lilo & Stitch in my mind.
One thing that has always bugged me about central characters that are horrible people but we are supposed to cheer them on, even if they aren’t improving themselves or anyone around them. For most of the film, Lilo is an annoying kid. Yeah, she’s had some hard times…but she punches a classmate in the face for no real reason. Cute behavior to teach kids, Disney. The dysfunctional family life (sister raising kid, social worker trying to take the kid away) also seems really deep for a movie with such juvenile jokes. It would be hard to recommend Lilo & Stitch to really young kids, but most of the stuff would go right over their heads and they would be in it for Stitch acting silly anyway.
As an adult, I found very little to like about Lilo & Stitch outside the production values of it. The story didn’t grab me, nor did the characters. It wasn’t a movie I hated watching but seeing it once was probably enough for me. However, Lilo & Stitch is certainly a unique Disney animated film, for better or worse.
I give it 3 Elvis Presley plays a large role for some reason out of 5.