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A genetically engineered extra-terrestrial killing machine called Experiment 626 escapes galactic containment and falls to earth. He lands in Hawaii and imitates a dog to get adopted by Lilo (voiced by Daveigh Chase), an orphan girl cared for by her big sister (voiced by Tia Carrere). Lilo does her best to contain her pet - which she names Stitch - and his destructive powers. But as the men in black and Stitch's alien imprisoners close in, the trio must learn to get along and the value of family.

Review by Shannon J. Harvey:
Be wary of cutesy trailers and coy marketing techniques, Lilo & Stitch is an animated abomination of a film. It's 85-minutes of torture disguised as family fun in true Disney style, and I'm not just speaking from an adult's perspective. Kids will have a hard time understanding the story and warming up to Stitch, a creature of such dubious consumer appeal kids won't know whether to giggle or hide. He looks like a cross between a koala bear and a Pokemon and behaves like a Tasmanian Devil in serious need of ADD medication. I think our own Andrew Urban said it best: "Stitch is a bad mannered, ugly and destructive little shit". Spot on, boss. There's no cute factor in Stitch at all, and only the most undemanding tot will endure 85 minutes of his antics. To Disney's credit, however, Lilo & Stitch does come with a wholesome theme about how it's okay to be different (for both Stitch and Lilo), and how not all families are typical. That's fine for an over-arching theme, but kids won't get it because the story becomes a whirring fugitive on-the-run routine, with some wildly stupid aliens and alien hunters attempting to capture Stitch.

That said, the DVD package is packed with playful and informative extras. There are alien games for the youngsters and documentaries for the older ones. Some of the pronunciations and concepts will be lost on young children (a marketing blunder again), but most of it is educational-style fun. In the DisneyPedia interactive feature, kids can learn about the islands of Aloha, with a treasure-trove of facts and figures. They can then test their recall skills in the Alien Experiment Game, and by answering film-related trivia, they can concoct some kind of alien solution. Kids can learn to hula and dance along to a Hi-5 song, and In Follow Stitch Through the Disney Years, Stitch gatecrashes popular Disney films, mixing it up with the Seven Dwarfs, becoming the 102th Dalmation and impersonating Pinocchio.

A little trickier for the tots will be the Look of Lilo & Stitch, which expounds the theory that round character edges increase audience appeal, even though it seems to have been ignored in the case of Stitch, who's ugly and scary however round he is. On Location with the Directors goes through the long process from storyboard pitch to final cut, and Wynonna Judd's version of the Elvis tune "Burning Love" seems somewhat inappropriate. So the verdict? Lilo & Stitch attempts to blend Pokemon appeal with Blue Hawaii style sensibilities, and it's a strange blend that just doesn't work. Disney has hailed the film's box office triumph, of course, but I wonder how many viewers will want to see it a second time, let alone buy the DVD.

Published March 13, 2003

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DIRECTOR: Chris Sanders and Dean De Blois

RUNNING TIME: 82 minutes

PRESENTATION: 1.66:1 widescreen; Dolby 5.1

SPECIAL FEATURES: Disney Pedia: Hawaii - The Islands of Aloha; Create Your Own Alien Experiment Game; A Stitch in Time - Follow Stitch Through the Disney Years; Hula Lesson; "Burning Love" - Behind the Scenes with Wynonna; "I Can't Help Falling in Love with You" - Music Video Performed by the A-Teens; The Look of Lilo & Stitch; Animating the Hula; On Location with the Directors; Deleted Scenes; Theatrical Teaser Trailers

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Buena Vista Home Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: March 5, 2003

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