My opinion right after watching film
My opinion right after watching the film is that it is very good. I like how this film is one of the most realistic films in the canon, and it had a lot of heart and care in it. It is very creative, and they pulled off the half sci-fi, half family storylines and combined them together. The characters are very well developed, and this is another example of how simplicity is sometimes better. I wished that the studio took note of this, since this film alone was not enough to stop the downhill pace of this era.
Production started in the mid 90s, and they wanted to make a film that was cheaper to make after the big budget films of the mid 90s, as they were inspired with how they did the same with Dumbo all those decades ago. Storyboard artist Chris Sanders was approached to pitch an idea for a film, and he did about a character named Stitch (which he wanted to make a children’s book of in 1985, but failed).
The film was supposed to take place in Kansas (how boring), but they changed it to Hawaii for some reason. The production crew for this film was relatively small, as many were focusing on the big budget films like Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Treasure Planet and Tarzan. They took a trip to Kaua’i, and studied the concept of Ohana, which they added to the film.
Chris Sanders had almost complete control over the character designs and backgrounds, as he decided to use water coloring for the coloring in the animation. They had to edit quite a bit of the film after the September 11, 2001 incident in the United States.
So the film starts in a galactic space ship, and Dr. Jumba Jookiba (David Ogden Stiers) is on trial for creating an illegal and unethical experiment, and when he tries to lie about not making anything, they bring out Experiment 626, which would be soon known as Stitch (Chris Sanders). Uumba tells them that Stitch is only there to destroy, and the Grand Councilwoman (Zoe Caldwell) and Gantu (Kevin Michael Richardson) has Jumba arrested, and for Stitch to be “taken care of”. Stitch escapes and ends up on a ship, which is crashing to Hawaii, and Councilwoman tells Gantu and Earth expert Agent Pleaky (Kevin McDonald) to get Stitch, since they cannot wipe out Earth to get him, and it is a reserve to make the population for Mosquitos grow.
So her sister Nani (Tia Carerre) is called, and she tells Lilo to wait for her at the dance studio, but for some reason, Lilo chooses not to do that. She is rejected by her classmates to join them in playing dolls, so she goes home and locks the door. Nani rushes to the studio to find that Lilo is not there. This makes her upset because the Social Worker is on his way to her house, so she rushes back home to find Lilo listening to Elvis, and locking the door with nails. When the social worker named Cobra Bubbles (Ving Rhames) arrives to their home, Nani is in the doghole cursing at Lilo, as she takes the nails out of the door. He enters her home, and she does not make a good impression on him, as she left the food on, the kitchen filled with dirty dishes, and Lilo was home alone. Bubbles tells her that the meeting did not go well, and she has 3 days to turn things around.
So Nani loses it on Lilo for screwing things up, and they get into an argument about Lilo screwing the meeting up. She yells at her older sister that she should sell her to make her (Nani happy), which she replied that a rabbit would be a lot quieter than Lilo, who does not understand the severity of their issue. Lilo goes to her room, and some time passes before Nani goes to her room. They reunite and they say that they like one another as siblings better than parent/child, which is when a “star” (which is really Stitch and his ship) crashes on Earth. The relationship between these 2 are really good, and it is not like the outright cookie cutter happy sibling relationships, or the pathetic family feud relationships, which one of the two being in these films typically.
So for some reason, Nani and Lilo think it is a good idea to buy a pet, and for some reason, the pet workers bring what they think is a “dead dog” to the store with the other pets. Lilo chooses Stitch as a pet, and when he realizes that Jumba and Pleaky are outside and waiting to shoot him down, so he uses Lilo as a shield, so they cannot do anything to him. When Lilo and Stitch are in town, this conflict between him and them only increases. For some reason, an Elvis song plays as Lilo is trying to train Stitch, but it fails, as he is miserable and destructive, with Jumba and Pleaky ready and waiting to capture him at any moment.
We go to Nani’s job, where we are introduced to her date/friends-with-benefits David (James Scott Lee) who is a fire blower at the beach restaurant, and he asks her on a date, but she says that she has a lot on her mind at the moment. After she leaves, Lilo tells him that she likes his hair and butt.
Nani wants to take Stitch back as he is a menace and has not been there that long, but we learn that Lilo has recently moved in with Nani, and that their parents died in a car crash thanks to the rain, which is why she goes to feed the weather fish; to control the weather. This is a very interesting fact to add in, and those small lines add a lot of depth in movies, and this film has a lot of those moments. So after Stitch wrecks Lilo’s room and scares Nani (who calls an animal expert to find out what type of animal Stitch is), he finds a book called The Ugly Duckling, and has Lilo read it to him, which he relates to. This is re-establishing the theme of Family, and that everyone needs a family.
So Nani goes to find a job the next day, and Lilo trains Stitch after the social worker tells them that Stitch needs to be trained. This causes Lilo and Stitch to bond, and while they are training, they ruin every opportunity Nani gets art finding a job, and things take a turn for the worst, when he ruins her chance of getting a job at the beach.
Stitch decides to leave, because he has caused so much trouble, and he gets lost, and is alone because he has no family. This is a pretty sad scene, and you really feel for Stitch. I forgot to mention the Ohana message; in Hawaiian, it means nobody gets left behind, which is why Nani kept him for as long as she did. Councilwoman calls and tells Pleaky and Jumba that they are fired, which causes him to lose it and run like the crazy man he is, and shoots all over the place to kill Stitch.
David goes to their house the next morning to tell Nani about the job opportunity at a grocery store. It is SO not a smart thing to leave your sibling at home, when they are going to be taken by the Social Worker. So Stitch and Jumba end up in the house, and they have an epic fight that ruins the home.
So Gantu shows up to Earth (after Councilwoman sends him) and he soon captures Stitch and Lilo (who escaped the car as Nani and Bubbles were arguing), and flies off. Stitch manages to escape right before the ship akes off, which leaves Lilo being taken to space (which Bubbles is soon aware of, and does nothing). Nani loses it on Stitch, Jumba, and Pleaky, which causes them all to go on a ship, and chase after Gantu. To wrap this climax up, Stitch saves Lilo.
Since Councilwoman (my bae) ain’t bout the bullshit she has been dealing with, so she goes down to Hawaii herself to capture Stitch. She awaits for all of them to come back to the beach, but she is convinced that Stitch is a compassionate thing with feelings, and she lets him stay for his “punishment” on Earth, since Lilo legally owns him. She does not let Pleaky and Jumba on the ship back home
I do not blame her one bit, but it sucks we have to deal with Jumba for the TV series and all of those sequels, and we get a montage of them fixing the house, and Lilo, Nani, Stitch, Jumba, Pleaky, and David acting like one huge family.
The characters are very entertaining….for the most part. The main characters are good characters, and even the side and minor characters are very entertaining and are full of personality. I will say that Councilwoman is boss, and Cobra is deliciously careless and heartless.
The animation is very simple, but very stylistic. I like how they gave the film a special look with the water-colors, and I like how they designed the human characters, with the big noses, and the eyes that are so far apart from one another, not looking like the typical Disney human characters, or the typical cartoon human character, and the imagery of the entire film is brilliant. It makes the film stand out.
There are only 2 songs in the film (not including the Elvis ones), and they are very Hawaiian. They kind of show the culture of the Hawaiians, and they have some purpose to the story. What I am confused about is why are there songs by Elvis in this film? What does he have to do with anything? The score is decent enough, but it is not really that memorable.
Reception at Release
When the film was released on June 21st, 2002, it opened at #2 behind Minority Report, and dropped to number 3 the next week. It is the biggest success in a few years, since most of the films in this era were flops, but it is still not a big success, with $145,794,338 domestically, and $127,349,813 overseas, with a total of $273,144,151.
It was critically praised when it was released, as many said that it has more heart than the others, and more adult than it’s immediate predecessors and successors; without trying to be. The soundtrack made it to #11 on the Billboard 200 charts; the first to make it on since Tarzan 3 years prior. It is funny that they did not have high hopes for this film, but this is the one that is the most remembered and liked in this era.
It was nominated for a few accolades, like Best Animated Feature, and won a few awards. and it did really well in the Home Video releases.
It managed to garner 3 sequels, and a television show. It is not THE biggest advertised film, but in a way, it is a Disney classic. You will see Stitch in the theme parks, and there being many merchandise off of him. It is seen as the best of the Post-Renaissance era.
= 31.5/40 = 79%