Lilo & Stitch
Reviewed by Steve Crow
Rating: 4 Beans
ver had a movie just crawl up your chest, bypass your nose, and just _rip_ the tears directly out of the ducts with a pair of pliers? Well, "Lilo and Stitch" cheerfully goes about doing exactly that. After a somewhat chatty opening with an alien Federation with an obsession with really big doors and chambers to rival the Star Wars Federation chambers, scientist Jumba (David Ogden Stiers - the voice of Disney these days) is sent away and his little blue killing-machine creation, Experiment 626, is banished to exile but manages to escape to Earth. Since it is very dense molecularly (although still easy to pick up by anyone and everyone), 626 is trapped when the ship crashes on Hawaii with no way for it to escape.
Enter Lilo (Daveigh Chase - Donnie Darko) and Nani (Tia Carrere - True Lies, Relic Hunter) as a disfunctional pair of sisters with older sister Nani stuck with trying to raise her younger Lilo after the death of their parents. Lilo is a handful and Nani seems to be pretty incompetent at the whole parenting thing even before 626 enters their lives. Social worker and retired CIA agent Cobra Bubbles (Ving Rhames - Pulp Fiction, Mission: Impossible) is ready to take Lilo away when she decides she needs a dog. And 626 is at the pound. Disguising its appearance, it gets picked up so it won't be captured by its creator and a alien naturalist with expertise in Earth.
Renamed "Stitch", 626 wrecks even more havoc, eventually gets captured, and in a big flying saucer/air combat manages to bring down its hunter, make up with its creator, arrange for its exile to Earth, and generally everything ends on a cheery Disney note.
The ads featuring other Disney characters reacting to Stitch are probably the funniest part of the whole Stitch phenomena. It's an obnoxious character that indulges in such cheery on-screen habits as ear- and nose-picking. Stitch is certainly a bit more "hardcore" than your typical Disney fare. The Hawaii settings are nicely drawn in watercolor and they don't go too overboard with the music.
Still, it's hard to care too much about anyone involved. Stitch is anarchy incarnate (and presumably doesn't kill anyone despite its "killing machine" status only because it's a G movie). Lilo is interesting in a Wednesday Addams kinda way but she kinda wavers between likeable and certifiable. The writers seem to realize this, as they really pull on the ole heartstrings starting about a third of the way through. Stitch gets a conscience, Lilo mellows out a bit, and even the tough social worker kinda mellows out late in the picture (albeit with a plot twist or two that's really out of left field).
The main problem is the movie is kinda repetitive and probably a bit terrifying for a kid's flick, at least toward kids. Lilo is threatened with being taken away, then she is taken away, then she escapes, then she's taken away again except by aliens. In some ways this is a bit more terrifying for children than having a big scary bad guy like Jafar. Granted, you get the impression she really isn't getting a very good upbringing.
The constant emphasis on family also gets very repetitive after a while. We _get_ the idea, thank you very much!
Generally I enjoyed the movie. The setting is different, the characters are a bit more developed than your average Disney protagonists, they don't go overboard on musical numbers and it's got a cheery sense of anarchy that most Disney films seem to lack since they've stopped doing Aladdin movies with Robin Williams. So I liked it - marginally - despite its shortcomings.
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