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Toon Talk: Lilo & Stitch
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Disney Film & Video Reviews by Kirby C. Holt
Lilo & Stitch
We Are Ohana
Just in time to disprove all the traditional animation doomsayers of late, Disney has produced an exciting, heartfelt and, most of all, hysterical motion picture that goes by the name Lilo and Stitch.
Stepping away from fairy tale musicals and computer animated thrills of the past, first-time directors/screenwriters Chris Sanders and Dean Deblois have taken Disney Feature Animation in a whole new direction. More then any other animated film in recent memory, Sanders and Deblois firmly anchor the 41st animated feature in character and story, while never forgetting well-placed laughs, thrilling chases or perfectly timed pathos.
Our story centers on two misfit protagonists, the titular duo. We first meet Stitch (voiced by Sanders), or Experiment 626, as he is known in his galaxy far, far away. Created as, well, a genetically mutated monster by the slightly mad scientist Dr. Jumba (David Ogden Stiers, trying on an appropriately Teutonic accent), Experiment 626 is judged unfit for alien society by the Galactic Councils Grand Councilwoman (Broadway legend Zoe Caldwell) and sentenced to immediate exile. When the little bugger escapes, the Councilwoman dispatches Jumba, along with a befuddled, one-eyed Earth expert named Pleakly (Kid in the Hall Kevin McDonald), to re-capture the abomination.
Enter Lilo (Daveigh Chase, perfectly capturing the wacky innocence of her role), an orphaned girl who lives with her big sister Nani (Tia Carrere, strong yet vulnerable) in the beautiful Hawaiian Islands. Lilo is an odd one, spending her spare time listening to Elvis Presley songs and taking snapshots of overweight beach-goers. Their fragile family unit comes into question when they are visited by a hulking social worker who goes by the unlikely moniker Cobra Bubbles (Ving Rhames, imposing, with a hint of mystery); he threatens to put Lilo in a foster home unless Nani pulls the household together.
Meanwhile, Experiment 626 has crash-landed on the tropical isle, where he ends up in a dog shelter, the same shelter Nani has taken Lilo to, in hopes of finding Lilo a friend and, hopefully, keep her out of trouble. Of course, Lilo picks the alien fugitive, who has disguised himself as a dog (or at least a reasonable facsimile of). Alas, when Lilo comes out with this snarling, snotty puppy, it looks like trouble has found them.