LILO & STITCH

PG

-By Shirley Sealy


For movie details, please click here.

Space cruisers zoom by, laser guns blazing, in pursuit of a wily intergalactic fugitive who invariably outwits his would-be captors. The wily one happens to be a six-legged, bright blue ball of demonic energy known on the planet Turo as 'Experiment 626'--a genetic accident created by a mad scientist named Jumba (voiced by David Ogden Stiers), who made the creature "bulletproof and fireproof," with a brain that's 'faster than a supercomputer.' Unfortunately, however, as Jumba admits to the Galactic Federation's Grand Councilwoman (Zoe Caldwell), 626 is programmed to destroy everything in his path. He certainly wreaks havoc on Turo before stealing a police cruiser and crashlanding on a tropic island on a faraway blue planet.

This happens at the precise moment a young Hawaiian girl named Lilo (Daveigh Chase) is gazing out her window and sees what she thinks is a falling star. So Lilo makes a wish: She wants a friend. Although Lilo definitely has a loveable side, it's hidden under a self-protective veneer of brattiness which alienates her classmates and even tries the patience of her protective big sister and guardian, Nani (Tia Carrere). Nevertheless, realizing that Lilo truly is lonely, Nani takes her to the local dog pound to get a pet. Thus, Lilo meets the beastly 626, hereafter known as Stitch (Christopher Michael Sanders), who has disguised himself as a dog (and a pretty ugly one at that) while trying to get the hang of this strange new planet.

Lilo and Stritch are a perfect match: Both are defiant and destructive, yet they are also loving and in need of love. The development of their mutually rewarding and forgiving friendship makes the perfect Disney story, and, not surprisingly, the film was conceived, written, directed, animated and produced by longtime Disney veterans. In addition to scoring high for originality of plot--putting together familiar themes of family, forgiveness and love in a new way--Lilo & Stitch has a number of other assets to commend it to movie audiences both innocent and jaded.

First is the Disney decision to forgo computer animation in favor of the softer watercolor techniques which were last used by the studio over 50 years ago. The resulting simplicity of style perfectly suits the film's lush Hawaiian setting. Laudable, too, is the ethnic and racial diversity of the cast of characters, most of whom are deliberately--and delightfully--drawn against stereotype. Take the 'social worker' who keeps tabs on Lilo's welfare under Nani's uncertain guardianship. He's a hulking, earring-wearing, black-suited black man with the improbable name of Cobra Bubbles (who speaks with the authoritative voice of Ving Rhames.) As it turns out, Cobra is no incidental character, for he's responsible for thwarting Jumba and Pleakley (Kevin McDonald), who've been sent from Stitch's home planet to retrieve him.

Cobra also delivers the punch line of the film's cleverest joke, concerning the reason why Earth has been protected from alien invasion. It's priceless. But perhaps the most surprising and pleasing touch in Lilo & Stitch is that Lilo is a full-out Elvis Presley addict. Six of The King's greatest hits are on the Lilo & Stitch soundtrack, which, if nothing else, gives kids a good reason to ask their Elvis-addicted grandmothers to take them to the movies.


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