Directors: Dean DeBlois & Chris Sanders
Release Date: June 21, 2002
Rating: ★★★★★
Review:

Lilo & Stitch © Walt DisneyStitch is a genetic experiment (called ‘experiment 6-2-6’) designed to destroy, but sentenced into exile by an intergalactic councel.

All too soon our fluffy little mutant escapes and he ends at the Hawaiian island of Kauai, where he befriends lonely little Lilo, who lives a difficult life with her older sister Nani after the death of their parents. Here Stitch learns to tone down his inclination to destruction and how to love and care.

‘Lilo & Stitch’ is a very appealing film. Its designs, based on Chris Sanders’ idiosyncratic story drawings, are round, cuddly and original. Adding to the friendly atmosphere are the lush watercolor backgrounds, the first in a Disney feature since ‘Bambi‘ (1942). The animation is superb throughout, and Lilo, Stitch and Nani are round and instantly likable characters, who have nothing of the wisecracking arrogance of many other animated characters from the era. The film’s familiar family theme never gets cloying and is countered by a lot of humor. The result is a film full of love and joy.

Probably, because it was made in Orlando, Florida, far from the main company, the film also eschews the rather tiresome Disney musical convention, and features an original soundtrack featuring Elvis Presley songs and Hawaiian chants, instead. True, the plot borrows freely from ‘Men in Black’ (1997), and the science fiction setting feels a little awkward in a Disney film, but the story of loneliness, love and acceptance is well-told, and equally appealing to the young and old.

Moreover, the film proves that one can perfectly well make a good movie out of original and typical elements. A film maker like Hayao Miyazaki knows this, off course. But unfortunately, this message has been lost on the American animation studios, as very few of the subsequent American feature films succeeded in displaying this level of originality in characterization, soundtrack and design. Thus ‘Lilo & Stitch’ remains as Disney’s best attempt at an ‘author film’ (not counting the almost forgotten ‘Teacher’s Pet’ from 2004).

Unfortunately, ‘Lilo & Stitch’ seemed to be Disney’s last masterpiece of traditional animation. Even though it was followed by yet two other 2D animation features, it marked an end of an era lasting 65 years. Disney soon jumped the computer animation band wagon with rather mediocre results, arguably only hitting their stride in 2010 with ‘Tangled‘. Luckily, in 2009 the studio made a surprising, but unfortunately isolated return to the traditional medium with the excellent ‘The Princess and the Frog’.

Watch the trailer for ‘Lilo & Stitch’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Advertisements