Lilo And Stitch

Apart from Pixar films (Toy Story, Monsters Inc), Disney has been producing some lame animated films recently. Fortunately, they have grown up a bit with Lilo And Stitch and decided to keep the sickly sweet, treacly, melodramatic gibberish to a minimum. The film also contains some firsts for Disney, the main one being featuring a dysfunctional family in the lead.

Due to the death of her parents, six-year-old Lilo (Daveigh Chase) becomes an unruly child and is the bane of her twenty-something sister Nani (Tia Carrere) whose left to raise her. Lilo’s behaviour and Nani lack of ability to control her fighting and misbehaving at school draws the local Hawaiian authorities attention, in the large, imposing shape of Cobra Bubbles (Ving Rhames – whose character bears more than a passing resemblance to a Men In Black operative.

Meanwhile on the other side of the galaxy, an alien Dr Jumba Jookiba (David Ogden Stiers) is on trial in front of a high council. He is charged with creating Experiment 626, a genetically created being that is programmed with high intelligence, a desire to destroy worlds and is virtually indestructible. As a result Jumba is sentenced to prison and 626 is to be destroyed. Unfortunately, 626 escapes his captors and tears off across the galaxy in a stolen spaceship.

626 crash lands in Hawaii and due to an accident winds up in a dog pound. Jumba is unwillingly sent to retrieve his unholy creation with a pencil-pusher Pleaky (Kevin McDonald), an environmentalist whose charged with making sure that the hunt isn’t going to draw attention and spook the locals.

Nani decides to get a dog for Lilo, hoping that a dog will calm her down a bit. 626 realises that he is being hunted so does the most logical things; retracts his extraneous limbs and spikes and pretends to be a dog (albeit an ugly one – no one seems to notice that he’s blue and looks like a koala though!), knowing that his hunters cannot afford to be seen and that this will allow him protection under Lilo’s care.

Lilo decides to call her new ‘dog’ Stitch (well…Lilo And 626 doesn’t make a good name for a film). Stich’s programmed brain is hell bent on destruction and soon gets both Lilo and Nani in trouble. With the ever watchful alien duo waiting in the sidelines for their opportunity to grab Stitch and the fact that Cobra Bubbles is watching Nani and Lilo, constantly trying to determine whether to separate Lilo into state custody; the last thing that they need is a rouge alien making waves.

Lilo And Stitch is one of the best Disney animated films in a long time. The fact that Disney seems to have grown up a bit helps too. Lilo is established a problem child with constant fighting with Nani and also repeatedly punching another girl in the face. Disney have seemed to realise that on the whole audiences want to see something not so kiddie-like and more appealing to adults as well.

This also means less musical numbers (which bar one or two) were the most annoying part of Disney films for adult. Seeing that Lilo is a huge Elvis fan and dresses Stitch up as The King, the musical numbers are fresh and fun.

The script does get a little gooey towards the end but fortunately doesn’t sink too low into a melodramatic slosh. There are enough high-lights to outweigh the ending anyway such as Stitch being told that he shouldn’t be so destructive, but should be more creative. He then goes on to build a replica of San Francisco out of books and toys………before destroying it like a mini Godzilla.

Overall, Lilo And Stitch is one of the better-animated offerings from Disney, which was long over due. They seemed to be spending more time on straight-to-video sequels than producing decent cinema features in recent years. Let’s hope that they can keep the standards up.

 Score 7/10