Sunday, March 11, 2012

Lilo & Stitch: Hang Ten with this Disney Favorite

Rated PG for mild sci-fi action
Starring David Sanders, Daveigh Chase, Tia Carrere, David Ogden Stiers, Ving Rhames
Running time: 85 minutes

My daughter and I sat down to enjoy this 2002 Disney flick one rainy afternoon. Her interest piqued after seeing the Stitch character at Disney on Ice a few weeks ago so I surprised her with the DVD after checking it out from the library.

Without giving spoilers, the basic plot is that Stitch (Chris Sanders), a failed genetic experiment from an alien planet that destroys everything it touches, is exiled to an asteroid, but finds himself on one of the islands of Hawai’i instead. He’s captured, and Lilo (Daveigh Chase) and her sister adopt him from the pound where he is taken because the authorities don’t know what the heck to do with him. Lilo, a scrappy, undisciplined and virtual outcast, lives with her sister, Nani (Tia Carrere), after the death of their parents, and well, they’re having a tough time of it. Inevitably. Nani tries to paint a picture of domestic and familial bliss for the social worker (Ving Rhames) who has the one of the best character names ever (Cobra Bubbles), but he’s not fooled. Stitch’s basic nature is destruction so Lilo and Nani suffer greatly when he comes home with them. Granted, they were already suffering before he arrived, and he became a convenient scapegoat to point the finger at, but we’ll just overlook that shall we?

There are some big lessons to learn here on family. The old heartstrings get a workout when foster care looks imminent and when Lilo gets bullied at school then prays for real friends at bedtime later. My daughter asked me to turn off the movie at one point (she said Stitch was a little mean and scary) but persevered through to the end.

Stitch is not your typical cuddly Disney character, but Lilo is quite loveable, and you can’t help but root for her and Nani to get it together and be a true family. From the Elvis karaoke to the cool surfing scenes, the story is fun even for adults. Give it a try next time you’re at the library or adding titles to your queue. And, here’s a direct quote from my five-year-old, “I didn’t like it at first, but then I loved it!” Now, if that doesn’t persuade you…

Reviewed by Beth Balberchak

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