The film today is seen as a modest critical and financial success, though a big commercial success. The 2002 film eventually started a franchise: a direct-to-video sequel, Stitch! The Movie was released on August 26, 2003. This was followed by a television series, Lilo & Stitch: The Series, which ran from September 20, 2003, to July 29, 2006. A second direct-to-video sequel, Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch, was released on August 30, 2005. A third and final sequel, Leroy & Stitch, aired on June 23, 2006 on Disney Channel and released for DVD four days later on June 27, served as the conclusion to the TV series. A second television series, an anime titled Stitch!, was made for the Japanese market and ran in Japan from October 8, 2008, to June 19, 2011, with two post-series specials broadcast in 2012 and 2015. It was dubbed to English with an entirely different voice cast from the rest of the franchise, with said dub first airing in 2009. A third television series, a Chinese animated series called Stitch & Ai, was made for the People's Republic of China and had the production assistance of American animators. Stitch & Ai was produced in English first then dubbed into Mandarin Chinese. The thirteen episodes of the Mandarin dub aired in March 2017. The original English version of the Chinese series aired in February 2018, again with none of the original voice actors from the films or first TV series returning. Both of the latter two shows shift the tone of the franchise from "soft" science fiction to science fantasy and controversially remove franchise title character Lilo Pelekai as a main character; she is replaced by Yuna Kamihara in the anime and Wang Ai Ling in the Chinese series.
Dr. Jumba Jookiba is arrested and put on trial by the Galactic Federation for "illegal genetic experimentation", evidenced by his creation Experiment 626, a small sentient creature with unparalleled intelligence and strength, but also a propensity to cause chaos. Jumba is imprisoned while Experiment 626 is sentenced to exile on a desert asteroid. 626 manages to escape in a spaceship and activates the hyperdrive, causing its guidance systems to malfunction and randomly set a course for Earth. 626 crash lands on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, only to be knocked unconscious by three passing trucks and taken to an animal shelter. The Grand Councilwoman dispatches Jumba and Agent Pleakley, the Council's expert on Earth, to the planet to have 626 captured discreetly.
On Kauai, a young woman named Nani has been struggling with caring for her rambunctious and friendless younger sister, Lilo, following the death of their parents in a car accident. A social worker named Cobra Bubbles expresses increasing concern that Nani is unable to take adequate care of Lilo. To reduce Lilo's grief, Nani decides to let Lilo adopt a dog. At the shelter, Lilo immediately takes a keen interest in Experiment 626, who is impersonating a dog, in order to escape captivity. In spite of Nani's doubts, Lilo names 626 "Stitch" and shows him around the island.
That evening, as Lilo and Stitch eat dinner at the restaurant where Nani works, Jumba and Pleakley try but fail to capture Stitch. The resulting chaos is blamed on Stitch, causing Nani to be fired. The next day, Cobra warns Nani that if she doesn't get another job, Cobra will have to place Lilo with a foster family. As Nani attempts to find another job, Lilo tries educating Stitch about Elvis Presley, whom she calls a "model citizen". However, Stitch's antics, including evading Jumba and Pleakley, ruin Nani's chances of finding work.
Nani's friend, David, invites Nani and Lilo to take a break and enjoy a day of surfing. While Nani, Lilo and Stitch ride on a huge wave, Jumba makes one final effort to capture Stitch from underwater, causing Nani to wipe out, and Stitch unintentionally pulls Lilo down with him. Although everyone gets safely to shore, Cobra witnesses this unfortunate event, telling Nani that although she means well, Lilo will have to be taken away. After seeing how much trouble he has caused, Stitch runs off.
The next morning, the Councilwoman relieves Jumba and Pleakley of their assignment, giving it to the militant Captain Gantu instead, freeing Jumba to pursue Stitch using less covert methods. Meanwhile, David informs Nani of a job opportunity, which Nani rushes to pursue. Stitch, hiding in the nearby woods, encounters Jumba, who chases Stitch back to Lilo's house. A fight ensues, which ends in Lilo and Nani's house being blown up. Cobra arrives to collect Lilo and take her away. As Nani and Cobra argue, Lilo runs away and encounters Stitch, who reveals his alien identity just moments before Captain Gantu captures both of them. Stitch manages to escape before Gantu's ship takes off and is confronted by Nani. Before he can explain, Jumba and Pleakley capture Stitch themselves. Nani demands that they help her rescue Lilo, but Jumba insists they only came for Stitch. When Nani breaks down, Stitch reminds Nani about "ʻohana", a term for "family" he learned from Lilo, and convinces Jumba to help rescue Lilo. Jumba, Pleakley, Stitch, and Nani give chase in Jumba's spaceship, and eventually rescue Lilo.
Back on land, the Grand Councilwoman appears and prepares to take Stitch into custody and retire Gantu for kidnapping Lilo, but Lilo insists that, as Stitch is her pet under local law, he cannot be taken away. Impressed with Stitch's newfound civility and empathy, the Councilwoman decrees that Stitch will live in exile on Earth and be entrusted into the care of Lilo and Nani, and asks Cobra, who turns out to be a former CIA agent whom she met previously in 1973, to watch over them. Together, they rebuild the house, and Jumba and Pleakley become members of Lilo and Stitch's family as well.
The film ends with various footage and pictures of Stitch and his new family's life together with the song "Burning Love" playing.
- Steve Alterman
- Emily Anderson
- Jack Angel - Alien Guard
- Bill Asing
- Erica Beck - Mertle's Friend
- Robert Bergen - Officer
- Steven Jay Blum - Hammerhead Guard
- Rodger Bumpass - Man
- Catherine Cavadini - Fainting Girl
- Jennifer Darling - Female Officer
- Alexandra Deary
- John DeMita
- Judi M. Durand
- Greg Finley
- Jeff Fischer
- Valerie Flueger Veras
- Jess Harnell - Hawaiian Man
- T. Aszur Hill
- Barbara Iley
- Daamen Krall
- Todd Kurosawa - Truck Driver
- Chloe Looper
- Mickie McGowan - Computer
- Kunewa Mook - Moses Puloki (Hula Teacher)
- Courtney Mun
- Mary Linda Phillips - Coffee Owner
- Patrick Pinney - Firefighter
- Paige Pollack
- David Randolph
- Noreen Reardon
- Debra Jean Rogers - Armadillo-like Female Pilot (First Officer Ombit)
- Susan Silo - Computer
- Kath Soucie - Hawaiian Woman
- Melanie Spore
- Doug Stone - Dark Green Male Pilot (Ensign Getco)
- Drew Lexi Thomas
- Miranda Paige Walls - Mertle Edmonds
- Karle Warren
- Ruth Zalduondo
Lilo & Stitch is one of the few Disney animated features to take place in the present day; others include Dumbo (1941), One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961), The Rescuers (1977) and its sequel The Rescuers Down Under (1990), Oliver & Company (1988), Bolt (2008), and Wreck-It Ralph (2012) and one of the few to be an original story, rather than a loose adaptation of a classic tale.
Production of Lilo & Stitch began with then-Disney CEO Michael Eisner deciding that in the wake of a number of high-profile and large-budget Disney animated features during the mid-1990s, the studio might try its hand at a smaller and less expensive film. The idea was inspired by the production of Dumbo, an economically-made 1941 Walt Disney film produced in the wake of the more expensive Pinocchio and Fantasia. Chris Sanders, a head storyboard artist at Disney Feature Animation, was approached to pitch an idea. Sanders had created the character of Stitch in 1985 for an unsuccessful children's book pitch and developed a treatment for an animated feature featuring the character. The movie was originally intended to take place in rural Kansas so that Stitch could interact with other characters while still being isolated from wreaking greater havoc. A decision to change the film's setting to the Hawaiian island of Kauai was an important choice in defining the plot more clearly. No other animated feature had ever taken place on any of the Hawaiian islands before. In Sanders' words:
|“||Animation has been set so much in ancient, medieval Europe — so many fairy tales find their roots there, that to place it in Hawaii was kind of a big leap. But that choice went to color the entire movie, and rewrite the story for us.||”|
Dean DeBlois, who had co-written Mulan (1998) with Sanders, was brought on to co-write and co-direct Lilo & Stitch, while Disney executive Clark Spencer was assigned to produce. Unlike several previous and concurrent Disney Feature Animation productions, the Lilo & Stitch pre-production team remained relatively small and isolated from upper management until the film went into full production. The character and set designs were based upon Chris Sanders' personal artistic style.
While the animation team visited Kauai to research the locale, their tour guide explained the meaning of ohana as it applies to extended families. This concept of ohana became an important part of the movie. DeBlois recalls:
|“||No matter where we went, our tour guide seemed to know somebody. He was really the one who explained to us the Hawaiian concept of ohana, a sense of family that extends far beyond your immediate relatives. That idea so influenced the story that it became the foundation theme, the thing that causes Stitch to evolve despite what he was created to do, which is destroy.||”|
The island of Kauai had previously been featured in such films as Raiders of the Lost Ark and the Jurassic Park trilogy. The Disney animators faced the daunting task of meshing the film's plot, which showed the impoverished and dysfunctional life that many Hawaiians lived during the then-recent economic downturn, with the island's serene beauty. The actors voicing the film's young adults Nani and David, Tia Carrere, a native of Honolulu, and Jason Scott Lee, who was raised in Hawaii, assisted with rewriting the Hawaiian characters' dialogue in the proper colloquial dialect and adding Hawaiian slang.
Design and Animation
In a deviation from several decades' worth of Disney features, Sanders and DeBlois chose to use watercolor painted backgrounds for Lilo & Stitch, as opposed to the traditional gouache technique. While watercolors had been used for the early Disney animated shorts, as well as the early Disney features Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) and Dumbo, the technique had been largely abandoned by the mid-1940s in favor of less complicated media such as gouache. Sanders preferred that watercolors be used for Lilo to evoke both the bright look of a storybook and the art direction of Dumbo, requiring the background artists to be trained in working with the medium. The character designs were based on Sanders's personal drawing style, eschewing the traditional Disney house style.
Several major elements of the film changed during production. Originally, Stitch was the leader of an intergalactic gang, and Jumba was one of his former cronies sent after Stitch by the Intergalactic Council to capture him. Test audience response to early versions of the film resulted in the change of Stitch and Jumba's relationship to that of creation and creator, respectively.
The biggest change came to the film's third act, which had Stitch flying a Boeing 747 jet through downtown Honolulu to save Lilo. Following the September 11, 2001 attacks, this sequence was revised so that Stitch instead flew a spaceship through the mountains of Kauai (Okina). This revision was done primarily by replacing the CGI model of the 747 with that of Jumba's spaceship, with only a few shots in the sequence fully re-animated.
Another scene that was deleted was one of Lilo's attempts to make Stitch into a model citizen by notifying tourists on the beach about the tsunami warning sirens.
The original version of Jumba attacking Stitch in Lilo's home was found to be too violent by test audiences and was revised to make it more comedic.
There was also a scene in which Lilo introduces Stitch to Pudge the fish, which ultimately leads to the fish's death. Lilo then takes Pudge's body to the same graveyard where her parents were buried, and thus Stitch learns the consequences of his actions and gains a better understanding of mortality.
There was a scene where Nani brings Lilo pizza and then Lilo tells herself a bedtime story about a friendly and stinky bear named Toaster. This was replaced with the scene where Lilo and Nani talk about being family because test audiences had mistaken Nani for Lilo's mother.
The film opening at #2 with $35,260,212 in its first weekend, less than $500,000 behind the film Minority Report. In its second week, fell to #3, again behind the Steven Spielberg film at #2. The film raked in $145,794,338 in the United States and Canada, and $127,349,813 internationally, finishing with $273,144,151 in the world.
Lilo & Stitch received highly positive reviews from critics and audiences alike. The film's success at the box office and on home video formats led to a Lilo & Stitch franchise, with four direct-to-video sequels and a television series spanning two seasons. The film has received 145 critical reviews on the site Rotten Tomatoes, 124 Fresh and 21 Rotten, giving it a positive total rating of 86%. The film has also earned a score of 73% on Metacritic.
Peter M. Nichols states that through the character of Nani Pelekai and her struggles the film appeals to older children better than such attempts by the studio to do so as Treasure Planet, Atlantis: The Lost Empire, and The Emperor's New Groove.
- Main article: Lilo & Stitch (video)
The film was released on VHS and DVD on December 3, 2002. In 2003, a 2-disc DVD version was announced alongside special edition DVDs of Alice in Wonderland and Pocahontas, which were released in 2004 and 2005 respectively. A 2-disc special edition DVD of Lilo & Stitch was released in the UK on August 22, 2005, alongside the UK release of Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch, but a release in the US suffered from continuous delays.
On March 24, 2009, Disney re-released the DVD, which they dubbed a 2-Disc Big Wave Edition. This set includes most of the bonus features from the original DVD and adds an audio commentary, a two-hour making-of documentary, more deleted scenes including the original climax with the plane hijacking, a number of behind-the-scenes featurettes, and some games.
The film was released on Blu-ray on June 11, 2013, in a 2-Movie Collection with Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch. There are no bonus features on the Blu-ray itself, but the DVD included in the combo pack is a direct recycling (minus label art) of disc 1 of the Big Wave Edition.
At the 2003 Academy Awards, Lilo & Stitch was nominated for Best Animated Feature, losing the Oscar to Spirited Away. At the Annie Awards (Animation Awards), Lilo & Stitch was nominated for 10 Annie's, with the only winner being Daveigh Chase for her Outstanding Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production.
- A stuffed toy Dumbo appears in Lilo's bedroom when she spots a shooting star.
- A Mulan poster appears in Nani's room.
Sequels and TV series
- Main article: Lilo & Stitch (franchise)
The success of Lilo & Stitch paved the way for a franchise that included three direct-to-DVD and television sequel films and three TV series.
- Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch (2005) served as an interquel to Lilo & Stitch and Stitch! The Movie. Unfortunately, Stitch has missed a much needed molecular charge when he was created, thus creating a glitch where he goes on a hapless rampage at odd times.
- Stitch! The Movie (2003) gave much of the exposition for the TV show that was to follow. It tells how Dr. Jumba and Dr. Hämsterviel had created Experiment 626, as well as 625 experiments before him. After a fiasco started by Dr. Hämsterviel wanting to collect his remaining experiments, Experiment 625 is activated from his dehydrated pod. However, while having all the same powers as Stitch, this experiment has a peculiar fascination with sandwiches. The film ends with Dr. Hämsterviel arrested, the other pods falling into water areas, and the start of Lilo & Stitch: The Series.
- Lilo & Stitch: The Series ran from 2003 to 2006, for a total of 65 episodes. In each episode, Lilo and Stitch search for the other experiments Dr. Jumba had created, whose pods had been scattered on the island of Kauai. Keeping the ʻohana theme, they track down the experiments, turn them from bad to good, and find each of them the one true place they belong.
- Leroy & Stitch (2006) ended the series and the original run of the Lilo & Stitch franchise. After all the experiments have had their one true place found for them, Captain Gantu, who is still bitter from his inability to capture the other experiments and Stitch, decides to free Dr. Hämsterviel from prison. They go to Dr. Jumba, who has his laboratory in working order again, and order him to create a new experiment named Leroy. Dr. Hämsterviel and Leroy, plus many other Leroy clones, then attempt to kidnap and destroy the other experiments. However, Dr. Jumba remembers he installed a shutdown command when "Aloha ʻOe" is played. It works, and Dr. Hämsterviel and Leroy, along with numerous other Leroy clones, are sent back to prison.
- An anime series titled Stitch! ran from 2008 to 2011 in Japan, with two TV specials broadcasted there in 2012 and 2015. Taking place years after the events of Leroy & Stitch, Stitch has left Lilo, and he ends up on an island off the coast of Okinawa where he meets a Japanese girl named Yuna.
- A Chinese animated series titled Stitch & Ai premiered in 2017. Ignoring the other sequels and shows, Stitch has been separated from Lilo after being kidnapped by space pirates trying to create their own 626s from data they stole from Jumba. After making an escape, Stitch crash lands in the Huangshan mountains and meets a Chinese girl named Wang Ai Ling.
- "Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride" by Mark Kealiʻi Hoʻomalu & The Kamehameha School's Children's Chorus
- "Stuck on You" by Elvis Presley
- "Burning Love" By Wynonna
- "Suspicious Minds" by Elvis Presley
- "Heartbreak Hotel" by Elvis Presley
- "(You're the) Devil in Disguise" by Elvis Presley
- "He Mele No Lilo" by Mark Kealiʻi Hoʻomalu & The Kamehameha School's Children's Chorus
- "Hound Dog" by Elvis Presley
- "Can't Help Falling in Love" by A*Teens
- "Aloha ʻOe" by Tia Carrere (not in CD soundtrack)
- "Suspicious Minds" by Gareth Gates appears on the Canadian release and its music video as well.
Teaser trailers for this film parody trailers for other Disney films (two of these were animated by Sanders) from recent years. These are called "Inter-Stitch-als" and are featured on Disney's official site. The original actors were brought back to reprise their roles and were shocked when asked to act negatively towards Stitch. The trailers also include the AC/DC song track "Back in Black".
Beauty and the Beast: The Beauty and the Beast ballroom dance sequence begins as normal. However, as the camera pans to the angels on the ceiling, Stitch is seen crawling across the painting. Watching Belle and the Beast, he crawls onto the chandelier, which breaks. The Beast dives and pulls Belle with him out of harm's way while the chandelier smashes on the ballroom floor behind them. The moment ruined, Belle announces she will be in her room. As she departs Stitch wolf whistles after her, to which she replies indignantly, "Get your own movie!"
The Little Mermaid: Ariel is singing the reprise of "Part of Your World", when a huge wave, which is being ridden by Stitch, dumps on her. As the ocean settles, Ariel pops up and throws a starfish at Stitch, saying "I was singing here!" This trailer was the most difficult to parody, as the film had been painted using traditional cel animation rather than using the digital CAPS system and had to be cleaned up by hand.
Aladdin: Aladdin and Jasmine are interrupted in the middle of the "A Whole New World" sequence by Stitch. Stitch flirts with Jasmine and she drives off with him in his cruiser, leaving Aladdin sitting alone on the carpet, yelling at Stitch to "get your own movie!"
The Lion King: There are two versions of this commercial. In one of them, clips of past Disney classics are shown, with a voice over saying "For over seventy years, the Walt Disney Studios has won the hearts of audiences with the most enchanting, delightful and lovable characters the world had ever known. On June 21, the tradition...", and is suddenly cut off as Rafiki thrusts Stitch into the air in the manner of the presentation ceremony in the original film. A warthog (not Pumbaa) cries out, "Hey, that's not Simba!" All the animals flee, leaving Stitch alone on Pride Rock. Stitch clears his throat and roars unconvincingly. In the other commercial, the end of the song "Circle of Life" plays, Rafiki raising Stitch into the air on the last note. The rest of the parody plays out as the previous one, except that in this commercial, Timon (sitting on Pumbaa's back) is the one who yells, "Hey, that's not Simba!"
- When the movie was shown on television, the part where Nani traps Lilo after she comes out of the dryer was cut out, probably due to time constraints or that the scene was deemed unsafe (as Lilo was hiding in the dryer), and it would set a bad example for children.
- In the book titled Disney Trivia from the Vault - Secrets Revealed and Questions Answered by Dave Smith (who is also known to have his own column in the very first Disney Magazine called "Ask Dave", or the most recent D23 [Disney's community for Disney fans] Web site) of page 4, there was a sign on Lilo's bedroom door with the word "Kapu". "Kapu" means "keep out" or "off limits" in Hawaiian.
- In the detention cell, a Dr. Hämsterviel look-alike is shown to be in one of the cells.
- The space dinosaur that was in the detention cell was sent to capture Stitch in the video game Lilo & Stitch: Trouble in Paradise.
- During the trial at the beginning of the movie, Jumba claimed that he would never make more than one experiment, when in fact, he had already made 625 experiments before 626.
- When Lilo, Stitch and Nani are walking towards the electronics store, the Chinese place next to the electronics store is called Mulan Wok, a possible homage to Disney's Mulan.
- One of the surfboards that David carries during the surfing sequence has a red and blue taegeuk like the one on the South Korean flag.
- A stuffed toy Dumbo can be seen on Lilo's easel.
- During the battle sequence where Stitch hits Jumba with a "punch buggy", a Mulan poster is seen in Nani's room.
- This is only the fifth non-musical in the Disney Animated Canon, following The Black Cauldron, The Rescuers Down Under, The Emperor's New Groove, and Dinosaur. However, unlike the ones before and after (Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Treasure Planet, Wreck-It Ralph, Big Hero 6, and Zootopia) it, it does prominently feature music throughout with the use of Elvis Presley songs.
- As of 2018, this is the last Walt Disney Animation Studios film to use full opening and closing credits.
|Disney theatrical animated features|