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Lilo & Stitch (2002) – DVD Review

Lilo And Stitch DVD cover


Written and Directed by: Dean Deblois & Chris Sanders
Starring: Daveigh Chase, Chris Sanders, Tia Carrere, Ving Rhames, David Ogden Stiers


  • DisneyPedia: Hawaii–The Islands of Aloha
  • Create Your Own Alien Experiment game
  • A Stitch in Time: Follow Stitch Through the Disney Years
  • Hula Lesson
  • Young Voices of Hawaii featurette
  • “Burning Love”: Behind the Scenes With Wynonna
  • “I Can’t Help Falling in Love With You” by the A-Teens music video
  • The Look of Lilo and Stitch
  • Animating the Hula
  • On Location With the Directors
  • Deleted scenes
  • Four theatrical teaser trailers
  • Trailers for Jungle Book 2, Country Bears, Atlantis 2, 101 Dalmatians 2, Inspector Gadget 2, “Stitch’s New Movie,” Sleeping Beauty on DVD, Walt Disney World and Kim Possible

Released by: Walt Disney Video
Region: 1
Rating: PG
Anamorphic: Yes.

My Advice: Rent it.

[ad#longpost]An evil scientist, Jumba (voiced by Stiers), has created a pint-sized walking disaster factory: Experiment 626 (Sanders). The Galactic Council decides to punish Jumba and whack 626. However, the little pest escapes and hyperjumps to…Earth. Specifically, Hawaii. There he will cross paths with the young miss Lilo (Chase) and her sister Nani (Carrere), who have each other–and little else. They lost their parents in an accident. And the local social services branch is unsure that Nani has what it takes to care for Lilo, so they’re about to remove Lilo to a foster home. Can 626 (renamed “Stitch” by the eccentric Lilo) be the thing that helps to save Lilo’s family, or will he spell its doom?

This has to be one of the most delightfully frustrating Disney films that we’ve had in a long time. Because it was so under the Disney radar, the directors and his entire horde were able to get away with the equivalent of murder. I mean–turning the “cute protagonist” on its ear and giving the audience a titular character that’s a cross between a koala, the Tazmanian Devil, and Jack Black? Oh yeah, sounds like an easy sell. It also has moments of sheer brilliant irreverence. The interaction between Lilo and Nani is priceless, the character of Lilo herself is incredibly easy to identify with, and Ving Rhames‘ character’s name is Cobra Bubbles. These moments are pervasive, but they aren’t allowed to follow through.

Lilo and Stitch play with a record player

Like the even more unfortunate Ice Age, the filmmakers aren’t satisfied with pleasing and entertaining with a funny movie. They want desperately for the film to Mean Something, so they slam emotion and schmaltz in where it doesn’t belong. Because of this, the film takes a nose dive and gets into cringe-worthy territory. Which is a damn shame, because the premise and gags in the beginning were just so good.

Similar to recent Disney releases on DVD, this is the slim version with a deluxe 2-disc set coming on the horizon. But this isn’t the bare bones disc I feared, but it ain’t Pixar either. There is a pretty good spread of features, but quantity does not make up for quality. On the positive side, you get the four trailers that feature Stitch mucking with existing Disney classics (my personal favorite: their redo of Lion King complete with an incredulous Nathan Lane as Timon). You also get a “DisneyPedia” entry regarding Hawaii, with Lilo and Nani helping your kids with knowledge about the islands. It’s not going to be groundbreaking for adults who have any knowledge of Hawaii, but it’s great for kids.

Dean Deblois and Chris Sanders of Lilo and Stitch

In the fair to middling bracket, you get the “Create an Alien Experiment” game–which is cute when you’ve got David Ogden Stiers voicing Jumba–but it’s a trivia/game of chance that will be frustrating to little kids and boring to older ones. The on-location footage section isn’t bad either, giving you some nice behind the scenes stuff, but–and I say this in all seriousness–can we please stop, in these features, showing all these strange people who worked on the film in a montage at the end? I understand you’re trying to give a visual shout out to these faceless Disney workers, but we as the audience have no freaking clue who they are…and without context for them, we could care less.

Everything else is pretty much a wash. I mean, it’s great that the filmmakers had such a respect for the Hawaiian culture that they tried to remain true–and yes, in the hula featurette you can see that they damn well animated how hula is supposed to look. But still, when the concept of ohana was used by those same filmmakers to hobble the effect of the overall flick, it’s hard to get excited. And if you’re interested in hearing about Wynonna’s thought on covering Elvis, then I have no idea why you’re on this website. Finally, a word of contempt for the ever-increasing cadre of shitty Disney sequels.

It’s a fun movie. It’s not a great movie and it’s certainly nothing that comes anywhere close to the great films of Disney’s past. With a solid two-disc set, you might be looking at a purchase–but with this edition, I’m advising you to rent–unless you’ve got a young one in the house who demands to watch it over and over again.