Thursday, January 16, 2014

Lilo & Stitch

This is the beginning to a run of 3 other movies that were all definitely watchable on repeat with a toddler.  In time I will review them all, but I can't review the following story without starting at the beginning.  Lilo & Stitch is one of those Disney movies that I somehow missed until I watched it for the first time with Liam.  I must say that I was pleasantly surprised and thoroughly enjoyed the storyline.

Lilo & Stitch is about a Hawaiian girl whose parents have died and she is being raised by her big sister Nani.  She feels very alone in the world and wishes for a friend.  Nani takes her to the pound to get a dog and she ends up adopting Stitch.  Far from a canine, Stitch is actually an alien that is on the run from the law of his own planet and is hiding out as a fugitive on Earth.  He is the creation of an evil scientist who has been sent with an Earth expert to capture him and bring him back in for justice.  There is a larger Elvis presence throughout the film and his impact on Hawaii and Lilo.

Lilo & Stitch was released in June of 2002.  It is the 42nd animated Walt Disney feature.  It was written and directed by Chris Sanders who also wrote all other Lilo movies as well as both Croods movies, How to Train Your Dragon, Mulan I and II, The Lion King, Aladdin and Beauty & the Beast. He also plays the voice of Stitch.  It was nominated for an Academy Award for best Animated Film but did not win. 

There are a lot of famous voices in Lilo & Stitch
Lilo is voiced by Daveigh Chase (Samantha in Donnie Darko and in S. Darko)
Stitch is voiced by Chris Sanders who also wrote the screenplay
Nani is voiced by Tia Carrere (Wayne's World)
David (Nani's love interest) is voiced by Jason Scott Lee (Bruce Lee's Dragon)
Cobra Bubbles (Social Worker) is voiced by Ving Rhames (Mission Impossible series)
Jumba (Stitch's creator) is voiced by David Ogden Stiers (Cogsworth, MASH)

Chis Sanders (the writer and director) had originally created the story about Stitch in 1985 for an unsuccessful children's story pitch.   The storyline required a remote non-urban location and was originally going to take place in Kansas.  Deciding to change the location to the Hawaiian island of Kaua'i was a major decision, as no Disney movies had previously taken place in Hawaii.  Dean Deblois cowrote with Sanders ad he had done with Mulan previously. Disney wanted to keep this low-budget so everything remained pretty small until final production which lead the set and character designs to Sander's own personal style.  On location research the tour guide for Kaua'i explained the meaning of the word "ohana" in regards to family.  This ended up becoming a major concept for the movie.  Tia Carrere and Jason Scott Lee (Both raised in Hawaii assisted in rewriting the script to show true Hawaiian dialect and colloquialism).

Sanders chose to use watercolor backgrounds that had been long abandoned by most Disney films at the time.  They were used in films such as Dumbo and Snow White.  This was to flow with the story and with Sanders unique artwork.  He wanted the artists to be more in tune with their medium.  As you may notice the people in Lilo & Stitch are portrayed vastly different from people in any other Disney Animation.  The body shape especially with the extra long legs and the torsos always stood out as different to me, and now I know why.  Sanders also wanted the extra terrestrial objects to be similar to marine life.

Deleted Scenes include a major change int he original story where Stitch was an intergalactic gang leader and Jumba was one of his followers but that changed to Jumba being Stitches creator.   Also at the end Stitch originally flew a Boeing 747 to rescue Lilo but after the September 11th attacks this was changed to have Stitch flying a spaceship instead. 

Lilo & Stitch opened at #2 less than $500,000 behind Minority Report with $35 million.  Overall finishing with $273 million worldwide. 

Overall I find that this is a wonderful story and possesses a lot of great elements and lessons that don't always exist in Disney movies and can be hard to get the message across including death of parents, being raised by your sister, Social Workers, aliens, depression, bullying, etc.  I give it 5 stars out of 5 and highly recommend it to anyone.  Check it out if you missed out on it like I did and revisit it if it has been awhile.

The official Disney site: Lilo & Stitch

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