Modern Disney is so aware of itself and in tune with the legends of pop culture. During the same summer that Elvis Presley's comeback remix album smashes records at the top of the British charts, Disney delivers an animated adventure peppered with the signature songs and even a cameo by the King. "Lilo and Stitch", this years animated summer feature from Disney, as seen advertised on the sides of busses everywhere, pays homage to and celebrates once more the joy of dysfunctional families, lovable aliens, genetic engineering and the merits of rock and roll.
The "Lilo and Stitch" plotline and philosophy may remind you of "E.T." in how funny looking aliens bring broken families closer together, but it tells its story with some fresh ingredients that make for memorable movie moments that you'll laugh and cry about on the way home. What begins like a recent episode of "Invader Zim", we are introduced to experiment 626, a cute but outlawed alien, genetically created in a mad scientists lab with a desire to destroy. The little guy, who we'll know as Stitch, escapes to earth and falls in with Lilo, a troubled little Hawaiian girl, whose destructive potential seems to match his own.
Chris Sanders, who brought us "Mulan" a few summers ago, gives "Lilo and Stitch" his all acting as writer, co-director and stars as the voice of Stitch. Sanders continues to break Disney molds by making strong female characters that need experience instead of rescuing. Lilo, played by Daveigh Chase and her older sister Nani, voiced by Tia Carrere, are an orphaned family whose parents have died, and have only themselves to count on. Ving Rhames appears as a toon version of himself in the character of Cobra Bubbles, a mysterious social worker, who seems bent on breaking apart the sisters and send Lilo to a home. The science fiction action then meets the family crisis story and wacky intergalactic island fun ensues.
On the production side, the look of "Lilo and Stitch" crosses some odd influential borders. The character designs seem to have been inspired from the R. Crumb sketchbook and the top draw animation is framed by color washed backgrounds that set you in the lush pacific islands.
But let's not forget about Elvis...
"Lilo and Stitch" is a cute and smart summer movie that has enough slapstick to make it fun for little ones and some geeky in-jokes for us bigger kids. So, while I could have done without Stitchs' cute alien talk at the end, all I had to do to reset my mood was chew some popcorn and hum along with the king.
For Movie Magazine this is Purple.
© 2002 - Purple - Air Date: 6/19/02
Lilo & Stitch
USA - 2002