LILO & STITCH (2002):
Written by: Chris Sanders & Dean DeBlois
-This is a funny one, as it’s an original story, and has a completely unique art style (that of a long-time Disney Animator Chris Sanders, who always drew his stuff that way- one wonders if the others got annoyed at always having to shift his stuff into the “Mainline” Disney style). I have to agree with The Nostalgia Critic over it- the relationship between the sisters (bratty, weird Lilo and basket-case, angry Nani, who has to deal with raising the crazy little girl alone) is much more interesting than the “blah” alien backstory, which is of course what drew in all the kids. Stitch is a runaway alien that makes a mess of everything, and gets adopted as a “dog” while Nani is in danger of losing Lilo to social services (especially once Stitch costs her her job).
The purpose of the movie is elaborated upon many times- Lilo brings up Ohana– “family means that no one gets left behind”. Everyone kind of… just makes cool with each other by the end, of course. Like in a lot of Disney movies, Stitch just kind of… appreciates them after a point, largely after feeling listless without his mission of destruction to go back to.
Lilo gets some VERY funny character moments, too.
I didn’t find it overly funny, but it’s a neat character piece, and has some very interesting alien designs. I liked how the child services agent was actually made sympathetic and not like an “Evil Dog Catcher” or something like that- he empathizes with Nani, desperately hopes she gets her act together, and even gives practical advice- it clearly breaks his heart to have to come take Lilo away. Nani’s frustrations with a terror of a little sister are clear, as is her desperation to be a proper “parent”.
The rounded art style gives everyone weird faces and potato noses, but the animators possess a very obvious liking for gigantic thighs (THEY THICC, as the kids would say), that’s for sure, and the noses are no bigger a distraction than say, comic artist Adam Warren’s “Fish Lips” look on HIS characters. And Nani HAS to be the nakedest Disney woman ever- she is in either a Hawaiian-style sarong (with bikini top) or a skimpy bikini for 60% of her scenes, flashing monstro-thighs the entire way. Like, they were gifting the dads who got dragged there something fierce. Never mind that lifeguard who shows up for a five-second scene yet has appeared in hundreds of pictures that’ve shown up on DeviantArt (that I came upon… completely by accident of course!).
The alien designs are REALLY cool, too, with even background aliens looking very unique and interesting.
STITCH (Experiment 626)
-Stitch is a general terror in the movie, engaging in wanton destruction for most of it to the delight of the audience, but he calms down by the end, letting himself be adopted into the “Ohana”.
About the Performer: Chris Sanders is the aforementioned director of the film, who has continued to voice him later, even after leaving the studio.
Nani dresses like this for pretty much the entire movie.
About the Performer: Tia Carrere actually had a pretty solid career as a “Hot Asian Actress” of the moment in the 1990s, appearing in the Wayne’s World movies as the Token Unrealistically Hot Girlfriend of the main character. She was in the low-budget Canadian Xena ripoff Relic Hunter for three years in 1999-2002, but actually made a solid career for herself as a voice actress, continuing the odd trend of exceptionally attractive actresses getting into VOICE ACTING of all things. She played the Queen of Mars in the underrated Duck Dodgers series, even proving herself a phenomenal singer at the same time.
Reception & Cultural Impact:
The movie did well enough to earn TWO sequel movies (Straight To DVD, of course) and a 65-episode TV series, one of the last Disney Movies to franchise out that way. All of the sequels dealt with finding the other experiments (since Stitch was Experiment 626). Stitch is also HUGE in Japan (I know- an annoying cute critter popular in Japan- will wonders never cease?), and spawned an anime series. Sanders, who would become kind of a hero at Disney for this film, would leave the company over issues with John Lasseter surrounding changes made to Bolt (which are detailed in the book Creativity, Inc., which of course is a Pixar piece about how they made their success, and thus frames that scene as them saving the movie by getting rid of the cronyism and “people being afraid to speak up and criticize the work of others” that was hampering Disney’s mainline movies at the time). He moved to DreamWorks, where he now helms the How To Train Your Dragon movies, as well as The Croods.
For the Parks, Stitch has become a big meet & greet act, usually engaging in offbeat shenanigans with guests. Disney World also changed their terrifying Alien Encounter attraction to feature a mostly unseen Stitch… which still scares the living bejeezus out of time of people. The attraction simulates observing an alien that escapes and jumps around on your chairs… but you’re completely trapped and your imagination has to fill in everything. In seconds, I saw someone’s screaming child have to get taken out of there. They finally put the mostly-mothballed attraction out of its misery earlier this year.
The movie has attained a solid fandom of Disneyphiles, largely owing to the sweet bits (“Ohana means… no one gets left behind”), and how bratty Lilo is (“And I’m sorry I punched you in the face”).