Whatever else it may be, Lilo & Stitch isn’t your traditional Disney movie. There is no princess. The movie isn’t based on a classic fairy tale. The orphans don’t get rich at the end and the music is Elvis. There are certainly parts of the movie don’t work—and parts that do—but I don’t know that any of it is related to the ways in which the movie deviates from the formula.
I don’t want you to think that I wasted your time with that opening paragraph (even if it was a short paragraph and therefore not really all that much time), the movie is a Disney movie. It has a certain undeniable Disney sensibility (like with the havoc-wreaking adorable guy at its center), it just doesn’t play like one.
At the center of Lilo & Stitch are, and you’ll find this shocking, characters named Lilo and Stitch. Lilo (voiced by Daveigh Chase) is an orphaned Hawaiian girl living with her sister. Stitch is a genetically modified alien created to destroy. Stitch (voiced by Christopher Michael Sanders) finds himself on the run and winds up trapped on Earth, where Lilo chooses him as a pet.
From there, things go from bad to worse. You see, Lilo and her sister, Nani (voiced by Tia Carrere) are just barely scraping buy and Lilo has some anger issues (understandable ones, she’s had a difficult life, but they’re there). Combine that with Stitch’s destructive nature and Nani can’t hold down a job and that means no money and that means even more trouble.
Things in Lilo & Stitch go downhill, it’s the nature of the movie. The mirth is had in the wanton destruction the titular stars wreak on their lives and the world around them. It is actually something of a weird way to go for a film — it isn’t that the message is destroy everything, but it is that it’s funny to destroy things, be it a home, a career, or something else.
The overt message of the film though is “ohana,” and as we’re repeatedly told, ” Ohana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind — or forgotten.” The film is really supposed to be about this misfit family working together and figuring out a way to survive. I just find it troubling that so much of the fun in the film comes from the opposite. It upsets me in the same way that The Lion King does. One of the most remembered, sung, and loved bits of The Lion King is “Hakuna Matata,” a theory which the film is wholly against, not that people end up taking that away from it).
This could mean that I’m looking far too deeply at a children’s film, or perhaps (and this is my fear) that other people aren’t looking nearly close enough. I do not believe that everything that happens in a film has to be positive, but these two examples of negative rub me in the wrong way.
Newly released to Blu-ray, Lilo & Stitch is packaged along with its direct-to-video sequel, Lilo & Stitch 2: Stich has a Glitch, which isn’t bad as much as it is bland and rehashes many of the ideas and issues of the first film. It isn’t a straight copy by any stretch of the imagination, but it does have that traditional second episode of television series redo of the original feel. Either that or like a really long episode of the Lilo & Stitch television series.
As one has come to expect from Disney, both movies look excellent on this Blu-ray release. The films are hand-drawn and are represented in outstanding fashion. Colors pop off the screen, and everything is clear and sharp. Imperfections are not to be found. In this age of CG wonder, the visuals do perhaps look slightly dated, but that’s not due to the Blu-ray. The DTS-HD MA 5.1 features a fully-immersive experience, with directional effects and bass as needed. The audio track on each film is well-leveled and complements the visuals.
The real disappointment here is not the film nor the presentation, but rather the lack of bonus features. This is a three disc set with one Blu-ray and two DVDs. The Blu-ray has both movies but no bonus features. Each DVD has one movie and bonus features, but they all seem to be old. Surely there is something new out there that could have been put together for the release.
Lilo & Stitch is a fun little movie. It isn’t something that will go down as one of Disney’s all-time greats, but it isn’t a bad 85 minutes. The movie isn’t done any favors by being released at the tail end of Disney’s second golden age of animation. Coming on the heels of Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King and The Little Mermaid and Aladdin is an incredibly tough act to follow. Even ignoring that, the jumble of ideas don’t always gel as much as they should. If you can pick it up inexpensively, it’s probably worth adding to your collection if you’re a fan, but it simply doesn’t wow.