Steve’s Wonderful Reviews of Disney: Lilo and Stitch

Lilo and Stitch

Release Date: June 21st, 2002

Inspiration: N/A

Budget: $80 million

Domestic Gross: $145.8 million

Worldwide Gross: $273.1 million

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 86%

IMDB Score: 7.2/10

Storyline (per IMDB): In a place far, far away, illegal genetic experiment #626 is detected: Ruthless scientist Dr. Jumba Jookiba has created a strong, intelligent, nearly indestructible and aggressive being with only one known weakness: The high density of his body makes it impossible for the experiment to swim in water. The scientist is sentenced to jail by the Grand Council of the Galactic Federation. The experiment is supposed to be transported to a prison asteroid, yet manages to escape Captain Gantu, who was supposed to deliver him there. With a stolen police cruiser (the red one), the destructive being races towards a little and already doomed planet: Earth. Stranded on Hawaii, experiment #626 can’t actually do much harm: water all around, no big cities and two well-equipped representatives of the Galactic Federation already following close behind to catch him again. But Dr. Jookiba and the Earth expert Pleakley never could have guessed that earth girl Lilo adopts the experiment as dog, gives him …

Pre-Watching Thoughts: We continue on through the 2000s with a pretty interesting film that many consider probably the best film of this decade and one that is also considered pretty underrated. I always have had a weird relationship with this film in that it is the only film I had seen in this stretch prior to this project, and while I didn’t hate it I ultimately didn’t like it a lot and always felt it was getting praise that it didn’t deserve similar to Finding Nemo. Now it has been a while since I had seen this film so maybe my opinion has changed on it, and considering how underwhelming the last few films have been I’m hoping this turns things around.

Voice Cast: We once again have a fairly small cast for this film and it once again consists of a lot of newcomers with only a few returning actors, and of the returning actors we first have Chris Sanders who voices Stitch and he also serves as one of the directors and writers of the film. The other returning actor is David Ogden Stiers who voices Dr. Jumba Jookiba as he was nearing the end of his tenure at Disney after being one of the mainstays for the last decade. Moving onto the new actors, we first have Daveigh Chase who voices Lilo though she would become more well-known for her role in “The Ring” that same year, and then we have Tia Carrere who voices Nani as she was at the peak of her career in film and TV. We then have Kevin McDonald who voices Agent Pleakley in arguably one of his only roles in an animated film, and then we have Ving Rhames who voices Agent Cobra Bubbles as he was hitting the peak of his career at this point. Next, we have Kevin Michael Richardson who voices Captain Gantu as he was really hitting his stride with his career by this point, and then we have Zoe Caldwell who voices the Grand Councilwoman as she was starting to wind down her career. We then have Jason Scott Lee who voices David in one of his lone animated film appearances and then we have Amy Hill who voices Mrs. Hasagawa in a minor role, and finally we have Miranda Paige Walls who voices Mertle and Susan Hegarty who voices the rescue lady in minor roles and then the various other voices throughout the film. It is interesting how we’ve fluctuated with the star power in these films as we would have a few big stars in one and then hardly any in another, and we will see how that continues to play out over the years.

Hero/Prince: When looking at our hero for this film, it is a bit tough to pinpoint who it exactly would be but in the end, it is one of the main characters of the film and that is Stitch or as he is referred to at the start of the film, Experiment 626. He is the creation of Dr. Jumba Jookiba though he is captured and sentenced to be exiled to a rogue asteroid, but he manages to escape and crash lands on the planet Earth as he is run over inadvertently and taken to a shelter. He blends himself in as a dog and is adopted by Lilo much to Nani’s dismay and he struggles consistently to not revert to his destructive nature, and eventually he begins to be accepted by Lilo and Nani though Jookiba and Agent Pleakley arrive to take him away. He manages to escape and reveals his true identity to Lilo who is heartbroken though they are captured by Captain Gantu, and Stitch manages to escape and he rallies Nani, Jookiba, and Pleakley to save Lilo. They manage to bring Gantu down and save Lilo though Stitch is still to be taken back to space, but Lilo shows that she is indeed his owner and Stitch is allowed to stay on Earth under the guise of exile and he becomes a true part of Lilo and Nani’s family. Stitch is a unique creature in that he was created to be a destruction machine and he is himself indestructible, and this is evident when he arrives on Earth as all he knows is destruction and he struggles fitting in at first. But eventually, he learns about love and compassion to the point that he considers Lilo and Nani to be his family and he even saves Lilo from Gantu, and while he won’t rank high amongst the other heroes he is still a very interesting character especially for Disney.

Princess: On the surface, it doesn’t seem like we would have a princess in this film and while the person I talk about may technically not be a princess, she is worth mentioning and that is of course Lilo Pelekai. She lives with her sister Nani and is an outcast as she has no friends and she also has her own issues with Nani, and she is threatened with being separated from Nani by Cobra Bubbles unless Nani can prove herself. Nani allows Lilo to get a dog and she finds Experiment 626 which she names Stitch, and she tries to turn Stitch into a proper and model citizen though Stitch struggles to adapt. After a mishap where Stitch is accused of trying to drown Lilo, Agent Bubbles decrees that Lilo must be taken from Nani and Stitch leaves out of shame though he returns when Jookiba and Pleakley arrive to take him. They end up destroying the house and Lilo is set to be taken away though she runs away and confronts Stitch who reveals he is an alien, and they are captured by Captain Gantu though Stitch escapes and with Nani, Jookiba, and Pleakley, they bring Gantu down and save Lilo. Stitch is set to be returned to space as a prisoner though Lilo produces a contract stating that she is his owner, and he is permitted to stay on Earth and he becomes part of the family. Lilo is a typical girl in that she wants to fit in and lashes out in anger at anyone she can including Nani, and she does her best to turn Stitch around using her idol Elvis Presley as a base. Even though she has her issues with Nani and eventually with Stitch, she truly loves them as part of her family and is happy in the end when everything turns out for the better. Again, she is technically not a princess so she will more than likely rank at the bottom of the list, but she deserved to be mentioned because she is a vital part of the film.

Villain: Looking at this film, there doesn’t appear to be a villain even though there are a few characters that you would think should be the villain, they are not bad enough or evil enough to be considered a true villain. However when reading further into the film, the character that is officially deemed the villain of the film is Captain Gantu who is the second-in-command of the Galactic Federation. He is tasked with bringing Experiment 626 to a remote asteroid though Experiment 626 ends up escaping and flying to Earth, and after Jookiba and Pleakley fail to find him Gantu goes to Earth himself and finds him along with Lilo who he considers a simple snack for the newly named Stitch. Stitch manages to escape and with the help of Nani, Jookiba, and Pleakley, they bring Gantu back to the ground and save Lilo as the council arrive and Gantu is retired for his actions. Gantu is clearly arrogant and confident in his abilities as well as harboring a strong hatred of Stitch, and he is more than willing to be the one to bring him back to space even though he would rather kill him. While his villainous tendencies would grow in later films, we are specifically talking about this film and he is arguably the weakest villain to this point which is incredible since we’ve had some fairly weak villains to this point.

Other Characters: Like we have seen over the last few films, we don’t have a lot of other characters to talk about though the ones that I do talk about are very important to the story within the film. The first character to talk about is Nani who is Lilo’s older sister and guardian though they clearly have their differences and are struggling, and Nani works to keep legal guardianship of Lilo though she unfortunately loses her job due to Lilo and Stitch’s antics. She struggles to find a job and at one point is angry with Stitch thinking he was trying to drown Lilo, and her friend David tries to help her and even secures her a job though Lilo is set to be taken away. After Lilo is kidnapped by Gantu, Stitch convinces Nani along with Jookiba and Pleakley to save her which they do, and Stitch is welcomed into the family as Nani and Lilo become closer as sisters. We then have Dr. Jumba Jookiba who is a scientist that creates Stitch as a weapon of destruction, but he is arrested and jailed along with Stitch who escapes and Jookiba is tasked to retrieve him alongside Pleakley. They try and fail repeatedly in finding Stitch and Jookiba finally confronts him at Lilo and Nani’s house which leads to the house being destroyed, and after Lilo is taken by Gantu Jookiba joins Stitch, Nani, and Pleakley as they save Lilo and he decides to stay on Earth to watch over Stitch. Next, we have Agent Wendall Pleakley who serves as the expert of Earth and he joins Jookiba in traveling to Earth to recover Stitch, and he does his best to keep them hidden from humans though they ultimately reveal themselves to Lilo when Jookiba tries to capture Stitch. After Lilo is taken by Gantu, Pleakley joins Stitch, Jookiba, and Nani in rescuing Lilo and Pleakley decides to stay on Earth in watching over Stitch along with Lilo and Nani. We then have former CIA agent and social worker Cobra Bubbles who is handling Lilo and Nani’s case, and he is hard on Nani and ultimately prepares to take Lilo away though she runs away. After Lilo is saved, he meets with the Grand Councilwoman who recognizes him from the old days and he agrees to watch over Lilo, Stitch, and Nani as he becomes a father figure to them. Next, we have David Kawena who is Nani’s friend and he clearly has feelings for her though she doesn’t seem to reciprocate them, and he does what he can to help Nani and Lilo even going as far as to help Nani get a new job and he remains by their side after Stitch joins the family. We then have the Grand Councilwoman of the Galactic Federation who has Jookiba jailed and she orders Stitch to be exiled, and after Stitch escapes she forces Jookiba and Pleakley to go to Earth to retrieve him. After they fail, she has Gantu go and he nearly kidnaps Lilo only for Stitch, Nani, Jookiba, and Pleakley to save her, and the Councilwoman arrives to take Stitch though after realizing that he has changed his ways and that Lilo has adopted him, she allows him to stay under the care of Lilo and Nani who are now protected by the Federation. Finally, we have other random characters to bring up like the various natives of the island including the girls that Lilo tries to befriend, and also the random aliens we see at the beginning of the film. All of these characters played a vital and important part in the film and they helped keep the film moving along.

Songs: Even though I have only seen this film once, I had always believed that there were no original songs for this film, but after reading about it and watching it I found out that I was actually wrong because there are two songs to talk about. The two songs that I will mention are the songs “Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride” and “He Mele No Lilo” sung by a children’s choir and while they fit the setting, they were fairly forgettable and almost not even worth having. Obviously, I would be remiss to talk about the fact that Elvis Presley was featured heavily in the film with several of his songs being played due to Lilo being a huge fan, but as we know songs like that aren’t included since they are not original songs for the film as well as his songs that are covered by other artists. I feel like the films going forward are not going to feature much in the way of music until we get to the end of the decade, but we will see going forward.

Plot: It’s always interesting to talk about a film that is not based off of something else like a novel or something else, and while there are elements of the film that are certainly based on other things the overall story itself is original and helps make the film unique. The film begins in space where Dr. Jumba Jookiba is on trial for creating an illegal experimental creature that he dubs Experiment 626, and he is imprisoned and the experiment is to be exiled onto a rogue asteroid though it escapes and travels to Earth. Jookiba is joined by Earth agent Pleakley in retrieving the experiment which is taken to a shelter, and he is adopted by a girl named Lilo who names him Stitch and he attempts to blend in despite his destructive nature. Eventually, he learns to love Lilo and her sister Nani who are being watched over by a social worker and Jookiba tries to capture Stitch who escapes, but Lilo’s home is destroyed and Lilo is to be taken away from Nani though she runs away. Stitch reveals he is an alien and he is captured along with Lilo by Captain Gantu though Stitch escapes, and Stitch rallies Nani, Jookiba, and Pleakley as they manage to save Lilo while bringing Gantu down. The Galactic Federation attempt to reclaim Stitch though Lilo produces a document saying that she adopted Stitch, and they allow Stitch to stay on Earth with Lilo and Nani as they finally become a family. As mentioned, there are plenty of familiar elements in this film such as an outcast trying to fit in and a mismatched family coming together, and most of the times those aspects can work really well if done well and I feel they were done pretty well in this film.

Random Watching Thoughts: Are we assuming that the logo is going to be probed like any human would?; We never actually learn where Planet Turo is; I wonder how many people watching this thought the film was going to be a space adventure; So Jookiba is apparently Russian; He claims that he hasn’t done anything illegal until they reveal Stitch; If Stitch is Experiment 626, what happened to Jookiba’s previous 625 experiments?; Stitch can move objects 3,000 times his size, yet can’t somehow get out of that pod; Why exactly would Jookiba want with a creature whose only goal is to destroy?; In any case anyone was wondering, “Meega, nala kweesta” means “I want to destroy”; So that robot puked out loose gears and parts; At first I thought they were taking his blood just to have for their own use, but they I see it was so the guns would track him constantly; If you think that bite looks infected, wouldn’t it be better to seek the advice of a doctor?; Pretty smart of Stitch to use his saliva to throw the guns off; Gantu figures out he’s in the power grid a mere second after the power goes out; I guess they have different colored police cruisers; All of those ships chasing Stitch and yet not one of them could hit him; That’s a strong hyperdrive that it moved the large ship; Ironic that Earth is located in Area 51 according to the Federation when the real life Area 51 is long connected to alien activity; She was so confident that the ship would land in the water only to see it would land in Hawaii; We as humans hate mosquitos with a passion yet apparently never realized that our planet was used by the Federation to rebuild the population; I always like how in any film involving aliens, they are so hyper-advanced and always see humans as a primitive lifeform; Pleakley is pretty spot on that any alien landing on Earth would just cause mass hysteria and panic; He lists off all this possible choices yet she knew immediately to choose Jookiba; A group of fish there and one just swims by holding a sandwich; I believe this is the first film set in Hawaii and showcasing Polynesian culture; So one of Lilo’s hobbies is taking pictures of random tourists; Lilo couldn’t be bothered to dry herself off before getting on the stage; That’s some good deductive reasoning by Lilo that Pudge wouldn’t want to eat another fish; She asks the same question about infection that Gantu asked after Stitch bit him; Lilo throws the doll down in anger and storms off though quickly goes back to get the doll; I get Nani had to get home, but the car had stopped and was pulling out so she was really in the fault for jumping in front of it; It is funny that of all the musicians Lilo can become a fan of, Elvis is a pretty interesting choice; Lilo went the extra mile to nail the door shut so Nani couldn’t get in; Cobra Bubbles is the most intimidating social worker ever; Nani went too far destroying the record player; Again, Lilo was on point asking if Cobra has killed anyone which considering he was CIA, it wouldn’t be a complete shock; Why do they have a book about voodoo?; He literally just walked out the door yet somehow didn’t hear Lilo’s screams to come back and check; They have a pizza box doubling as the door to the dryer; Obviously, Lilo has hidden in the dryer numerous times if Nani knew immediately to trick her into coming out; I can’t really tell if Lilo wants to stay with Nani or if she wants to be away from her; Poor Lilo doesn’t think much of herself if she thinks a rabbit is smarter than her; I wonder how many people were stunned to learn that Nani and Lilo were sisters and not mother and daughter; Why would she want to get yelled at on Bank Holidays?; Lilo has seen a lot of tourists; That rocket must’ve really been traveling fast if it knocked out power briefly in the area; The Councilwoman says Stitch wouldn’t survive in water yet it has no problem being out in a rainstorm; Stitch is clearly indestructible considering all the damage he took from those trucks; Nani says they want something sturdy and Lilo suggests a lobster; Considering that they are under investigation by a social worker, I don’t know if getting a dog would be the smartest idea; Those are some agile dogs that they were able to climb up as high as they did; Nani and the rescue worker are so adamant with Lilo getting another dog, but Lilo sticks to her guns and wants Stitch; His hearing is very good apparently; Stitch mocking Jookiba while Lilo is blissfully unaware of what’s going on; The movie playing on the TVs in the store that Stitch is watching is the 1958 film “Earth vs. the Spider”; Mertle seems like the typical mean girl with the other two girls being part of her clique; Jookiba says Stitch will be drawn to large cities yet the island they are on is lacking of them and Stitch just wanders the island at break neck speed; Stitch was steal people’s left shoes, just the left ones; Stitch gets in the toy ship thinking he can take off in it while Lilo causally puts a coin in it and rides it; Aside from burning the top of the hut, David was pretty good as a fire dancer; So according to Lilo, Stitch’s badness level is pretty high but it doesn’t encompass his whole body so there is some good in him; Lilo thinks Stitch was a collie before he got run over; Stitch scarfed down both slices of cake and munched on them, yet when he spit them out they were still perfect like when Nani delivered them; That chicken leg is looking sickly; That was big of Pleakley to say it wasn’t Nani’s fault even though she was ultimately blamed and lost her job because of it; Lilo clearly sees a lot of herself in Stitch which is why she wants to keep him; Of all the drinks to give him, she had to give him coffee; Like a typical pet, Stitch wants to sleep on Lilo’s bed; Interesting that they had the pictured blurred so you can’t see it at first; She gives him a lei and he just shuts down; He makes a solid model of San Francisco only to act like a monster and destroy it; You know Jookiba and Pleakley haven’t gotten out much if they are fighting over a wig; He was so excited to get covered by the mosquitos until they started biting him; Nani thinks she saw a monster when it was just Stitch getting a midnight snack; They have books on oyster farming, fire eating for fun and profit, and the roadmaps of Iowa; A bit of a different ending to the Ugly Duckling as he is happy to have a family as opposed to growing up to be a beautiful swan; So they figured out a way to have the music come out of Stitch’s mouth; So Nani must get a new job and Stitch must become a model citizen; Lilo decides Stitch has to be like Elvis to become a model citizen; Stitch catches on quick with the dancing; When was the last time that high guitar notes were able to shatter glass?; They were able to have a mini jumpsuit and a wig for him to wear; So in Hawaii, all problems can be solved by surfing; It’s not often you build a sandcastle while at the same time burying someone in the sand; Jookiba was able to swim in the wave with no problems; Even though they thought Stitch was trying to drown Lilo, David still went back in and saved him; Does Cobra really think that the best thing for Lilo would be to take her from the only family that she has?; Nani really doesn’t want to tell Lilo that she has to give her up; We finally see that the picture is of the family and we learn what happened to the parents; Lilo thinks that Stitch misses his family not realizing that he has no family; Pleakley hopes it’s not an octopus yet when he surfaces, there’s an octopus on his face; Jookiba was so happy to learn they were fired so he could do things his way; Oh, if only Nani would know what was about to happen; When has Jookiba ever listened to Elvis?; I get why she was calling Cobra, but wouldn’t she think that he probably wouldn’t believe her story about aliens?; They’re been so calm passing that gun back and forth even though it could explode any minute; Such a huge explosion and the picture managed to escape though a bit burned on the corners; That’s pretty cold of Gantu to call Lilo a “snack”; I just realized that Nani was obviously more worried about Lilo that she didn’t even bat an eye to the fact that she saw an alien in a rocket ship; She’s tells Stitch to talk and he does which freaks her out even though she knew he could talk; Again, Nani is seeing two aliens in front of her and thinks nothing of it though again she is more concerned about Lilo; Even alien ships have car alarms; Is it just me or does the body of Jookiba’s ship look suspiciously like a Stormtrooper helmet?; Clearly, Jookiba is the type of alien that thinks of his plans on the fly; That tourist just wants some peace and quiet while enjoying his ice cream and he can never get it; Isn’t Gantu supposed to bring Stitch in, so why would he want to get rid of him unless he’s actively trying to kill him?; Stitch even made sure that the frog was safe; That tanker lasted quite a long time in the lava until Stitch released the gasoline to cause the explosion; Also, how did that explosion not cause an eruption?; Now David sees a big spaceship and three aliens with Lilo and Nani, but even he doesn’t bat an eye to it; The Councilwoman clearly wants to let Stitch go, but can’t because of the laws of the Federation; Lilo just so happened to have the adoption papers on her to prove that she paid for Stitch and he belongs to her; She obviously has a great memory if she remembered who Cobra was; It would’ve been great if after Cobra revealed he was the one to declare mosquitos endangered to save the Earth, Pleakley gets mad at him for that; So in a montage, Stitch becomes completely domesticated and is in essence the homemaker; Included in the montage is them celebrating Halloween and Christmas; I wonder where they went if it was snowing and if that was the first time any of them had seen snow; We come full circle as they also visit Graceland; Again, Jookiba and Pleakley were just able to blend into society with no one caring that they are clearly aliens; Stitch sharing “The Ugly Duckling” with the baby ducks; Stitch makes himself a recliner made of sand; We close with the original picture of the family that includes a merging of a picture of Stitch.

Overall Thoughts: Overall, this ended up being a pretty good film and was a lot better than I ever remembered it being, and to this point it is easily the best film of the 2000s though the bar was set pretty low when the decade started. I feel like this film could’ve been released during the 1990s in the Disney Renaissance and it would’ve fit well, and it feels like a return to form for Disney after the last three films felt like they were taking things in a different direction. The 2000s have been pretty interesting for Disney and it looked like things were getting back on track with this film, and we will see if they continue to grow or if we go back off the rails through the rest of the decade. As for this film, it is a pretty good film and was pleasantly surprising with how much I enjoyed it.

Final Grade: 7.5/10