ninth symphony films - movie reviews

LILO & STITCH (2002)

DIRECTOR  -  chris sanders

RATED  -  pg

GENRE  -  animated

LENGTH  -  85 minutes

RELEASED  -  21 june 2002

DISTRIBUTOR  -  walt disney pictures

OFFICIAL SITE  -  lilo & stitch

ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $80,000,000
lilo & stitch - a shot from the film


buy the dvd from lilo & stitch at

buy the dvd from lilo & stitch at

a hawaiian girl adopts an unusual pet who is actually an notorious extra-terrestrial fugitive from the law.

this film was released on 21 june 2002, but was originally slated for a summer 2003 release.


picture from lilo & stitch

picture from lilo & stitch

picture from lilo & stitch


two out of four possible stars

After a few more misses than hits in the years following its release of The Lion King, Walt Disney Pictures has struggled to create an animated film that would get same type of acclaim. And Lilo & Stitch is nothing if not a concerted effort to bring back some of the magic of Disney to the silver screen. Although it is a departure from the standard damsel in distress formula, there is a wry sense of humor in Stitch that makes the dour Atlantis: The Lost Empire look like nothing but a bad dream. And thank goodness! Ticket buyers go to Disney films to be entertained with heartwarming stories that beg viewers to forget their troubles and enjoy the Disney side of life, not see a dark story told at the bottom of a watery trench.

And that's exactly what Lilo & Stitch accomplishes. The story concerns a lonely Hawaiian girl who adopts an animal that she believes is a dog, but is really a notorious intergalactic fugitive. While the premise might include elements not usually found in Disney films, space travel for one, the basic theme of the movie: that the most important thing in life is family, is a good lesson for children to be exposed to. And the violence in the film is always innocent and humor based. This is quite a difference from the usual line-up of violent Saturday morning animated fare available for American children currently. Disney excels at creating an engaging and humorous story without resorting to gratuitous violence, insomuch as an animated feature can do so.

And the characters in this film are quite likeable as well. Daveigh Chase, a young actress who's been quite busy in films in the past two years, voices the title character of Hawaiian girl, Lilo, has a good handle on creating a voice for the character that doesn't grate on ears belonging to persons older than twelve years old. And Tia Carrere plays an enjoyable character as well, as older sister Nani, a character fighting to keep custody of her little sister. These two characters have a very heartwarming rapport, which flows throughout the entire movie and is a strong motivation for seeing this film to the finish. And Chris Sanders plays the other title character of "Stitch" with a lot of humor and his lack of intelligible speech doesn't take away from the character's value as a likeable part of the movie.

In addition to voicing Stitch, Chris Sanders also helped to direct and write this film, seeming to take on quite a lot of duties. But his strategy seemed to work, because Lilo & Stitch, Elvis songs and all is, at its basest value, an enjoyable summer film. This is Sanders's second triumph, with 1998's Mulan being one of the only critically and financially successful Summer Disney films in the past several years. And since animated films take anywhere from three to five years to complete, it is possible that another enjoyable Disney animated film won't be released until Sanders is at the helm again.

And though the prolific amount of Elvis Presley songs in this film might cause some people to avoid the theater, the songs are very tastefully included in the film and don't show up more than is necessary. But even though the songs in the film were handled rather well, the fact that characters do not burst spontaneously into song seems to be a missing element from the package. Disney does this type of musical entertainment very well, and may very well be the best at creating songs with wide appeal and high soundtrack sales. And because the last few pictures have not included original songs, the tone of Disney's films has changed somewhat because of it.

Despite the charming nature of the movie, the story and characters sometimes resemble those that dance around in the many times inane after school cartoons that are poorly constructed and are created in massive quantities. Lilo & Stitch is missing the grandeur of past films like The Lion King and Mulan and even the much maligned Hercules and Atlantis: The Lost Empire. Though the colors are present in beautiful island-like combinations, the scope of this film is quite a bit smaller than its predecessors. And since it's being shown on the big screen, the need for something larger than what can be contained in a television is needed.

Viewers of Lilo & Stitch must content themselves with endearing characters, an entertaining story, and a better than average summer release if they are to enjoy this film. Missing is the entire package of Disney's classic song and dance antics and the bigger-than-life aspect of a theatrical release. Although Stitch is a step back in the right direction to the becoming the instant classic films of Disney's golden era (that era occurring little more than a decade ago), the film doesn't top any previous wildly successful films. Disney is present in this movie, but he's certainly not at top form. Lilo & Stitch is best used as a lesson shown to children about the value of family.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.

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