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Lilo & Stitch
Lilo-Stitch-Poster-disney-18651967-1248-1772
Film information
Directed by: Dean DeBlois
Chris Sanders
Produced by: Clark Spencer
Written by: Chris Sanders
Dean DeBlois
Music by: Alan Silvestri
Budget: $80 million

Lilo & Stitch is a 2002 American animated science fiction / family film produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation and released on June 21, 2002. The 42nd animated feature in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series, it was written and directed by Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois, and features the voices of Sanders, Daveigh Chase, Tia Carrere, David Ogden Stiers, Kevin McDonald, Ving Rhames, Jason Scott Lee, and Kevin Michael Richardson. Lilo & Stitch was the second of three Disney animated features produced primarily at the Florida animation studio studio located at Walt Disney World's Disney-MGM Studios in Orlando, Florida. Lilo & Stitch was nominated for the 2002 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, which ultimately went to Hayao Miyazaki's film, Spirited Away, which was also distributed by Walt Disney Pictures, and featured a voice-over performance by Chase in the English dub.

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 direct-to-video sequel, Leroy & Stitch, was released on June 27, 2006 as the conclusion to the TV series.

Plot

Dr. Jumba Jookiba is put on trial by the galactic governing body for illegal genetic experiments, including his latest creation, Experiment 626 : an aggressive and cunning creature that is nearly indestructible. Jumba is imprisoned while Experiment 626 is set to be exiled on a desert asteroid. However, during transport on Captain Gantu's ship, 626 manages to escape to the Planet Earth (despite having guns that are encoded with his DNA and designed to only shoot him pointed on him). The Grand Councilwoman orders Jumba to work with Agent Pleakley to recover 626 discreetly. 626 survives his escape attempt to Earth, landing on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, but is knocked unconscious by a passing truck, and is taken to an animal shelter because he is believed by the truck drivers to be a breed of dog.

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After the recent death of their parents in a car accident, 19-year-old Nani Pelekai is looking after her younger, more rambunctious sister, Lilo. They are visited by Cobra Bubbles, a social worker, who is concerned that Nani cannot take adequate care of Lilo. He considers putting Lilo into foster care, but Nani is very much against this idea, as Lilo and she are the only remaining members of her family; Lilo does not help as she does not understand what may happen. After hearing Lilo in her room pray to be given a friend (Lilo has no "real" friends because every girl in her class bullies her), Nani agrees to allow Lilo to adopt a dog. At the shelter, Lilo immediately takes a keen interest in Experiment 626, despite serious misgivings that Nani and the shelter worker have about him being a dog. Lilo names 626 "Stitch," and shows him around Hawaii; Stitch quickly discovers escape is impossible as he would sink and drown past the island to the sea.

As Nani attempts to find a good job, she is forced to bring Lilo and Stitch with her. Lilo uses the time to try to curb Stitch's aggressiveness by encouraging him to behave like Elvis Presley, whom she calls a "model citizen." Stitch's antics, although at times foiling Jumba and Pleakley's attempts to capture him, also ruin Nani's chances of getting a job. David, a friend of Nani's, sees her at the beach, where she was trying to get a job as a lifeguard. David suggests they go surfing to improve her mood. While Nani, Lilo and Stitch ride on a huge wave, Jumba makes one more effort to capture Stitch from underwater; as a result, it appears as if Stitch attempted to drown Lilo. Although everyone gets safely to shore, Cobra saw the whole thing and tells Nani he will come by in the morning to take Lilo away from her. After Stitch sees how much trouble he has caused, he leaves, with Lilo saying "I'll remember you though. I remember everyone who leaves."

The next morning, as Nani waits for Cobra to arrive, David tells Nani of a job offer that she must respond to. Nani tells Lilo to stay at home while she goes to secure the job. Stitch, hiding in the nearby woods, encounters Jumba, who reveals that Stitch can never have a family or "belong" because he was just built to destroy. Stitch races to Lilo's house, followed by Jumba firing at Stitch with his gun. The two fight, Lilo quickly phoning Cobra for help. The house is ultimately destroyed by the end of the fight, with Nani and Cobra returning shortly after. As Nani and Cobra argue over Lilo's well-being, Lilo slips away to hide in the forest and finds Stitch, who reveals his true alien form to her. While she says how he ruined everything, they are both captured by Captain Gantu, and he makes to leave Earth. Nani is shocked to see Gantu putting Lilo and Stitch in a container pod and taking off in the ship. Stitch, however, escapes from the container before the ship takes off. Nani then realizes that Stitch isn't what she thought he was, and demands he speak, just as Lilo always said he did. While once again trying to capture Stitch, both Jumba and Pleakley are revealed to Nani, and tell her that they do know Lilo, and they can both get her back. Stitch, with help from Jumba's ship and by launching a gas tanker truck out of a volcano, is able to free Lilo and stop Gantu. After they land, they find that the Grand Councilwoman has arrived nearby, in order to capture Stitch personally. However, when she sees Stitch has learned to talk and bonded with Nani and Lilo, she realizes he has become a civilized creature. Using Lilo's certificate of Stitch's ownership as proof, the Councilwoman asserts that Stitch is now a part of Nani and Lilo's family, and lets him live his exile on Earth with the humans as his warders. As her guards take Gantu away, she doesn't let Pleakley or Jumba return on her ship, and orders Cobra, a former CIA agent who previously met the Councilwoman at Roswell, to keep an eye on the new family. Stitch, Jumba and Pleakley become integrated into Lilo's family, and the house is rebuilt with the help of the three.

Voice Cast

Actor Role(s)
Daveigh Chase Lilo Pelekai
Chris Sanders Stitch
Tia Carrere Nani Pelekai
David Ogden Stiers Dr. Jumba Jookiba
Kevin McDonald Pleakley
Ving Rhames Cobra Bubbles
Zoe Caldwell Grand Councilwoman
Kevin Michael Richardson Captain Gantu
Jason Scott Lee David Kawena

Production

Development

Lilo & Stitch is one of the few Disney animated features to take place in the present day; others include One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961), The Rescuers (1977) and its sequel The Rescuers Down Under (1990), and Oliver & Company (1988).

PreStitch

A 1985 concept sketch of Stitch by creator Chris Sanders

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:

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Writing

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:

Template:CquoteThe 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 techique 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 around Sanders personal drawing style, eschewing the traditional Disney house style.

Deleted scenes

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 on the World Trade Center, 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.

Release

Box office

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.

Critical reception

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.

Home 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 will be set for Blu-ray release on June 11, 2013 in a 2-Movie Collection with Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch.

Awards

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 and Stitch was nominated for 10 Annie's, with the only winner being Daveigh Chase for her Outstanding Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production.

Allusions

  • Dumbo appears in Lilo's bedroom when she spots a shooting star.
  • A poster for Mulan is in Nani's room.

Sequels & TV Series

The success of Lilo & Stitch paved the way for the direct-to-DVD sequels as well as a 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 created Experiment 626, as well as the 625 mishaps before him. After a fiasco, started by Dr. Hämsterviel wanting to collect his remaining experiments, Experiment 625 is activated from the dehydrated pod he'd been stored in. While having the same powers and strength, this experiment has a strange fascination with sandwiches. The film ends with Dr. Hämsterviel arrested, the other pods falling into water 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 searched for other experiments Dr. Jumba had created, now having turned into a live Experiment. Keeping the 'ohana theme, they searched for the Experiments on their Hawaiian island, turning them from bad to good by finding the place for them to belong.
  • Leroy and Stitch (2006) ended the TV Series and the franchise of Lilo & Stitch. After all the experiments have had their 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 Leroy. Dr. Hämsterviel and Leroy, plus many other Leroy clones, proceed to attempt to kidnap and destroy the other experiments. In a fabulous Deus Ex Machina, Dr. Jumba remembers he installed a shut-down command when the Elvis Presley song Aloha 'Oe is played. It works, and Dr. Hästerviel and Leroy, plus many other Leroy clones, are sent back to prison.

Soundtrack

  1. Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride by Mark Kealiʻi Hoʻomalu & The Kamehameha Schools Children's Chorus
  2. Stuck on You by Elvis Presley
  3. Burning Love By Wynonna
  4. Suspicious Minds by Elvis Presley
  5. Heartbreak Hotel by Elvis Presley
  6. Devil in Disguise by Elvis Presley
  7. He Mele No Lilo by Mark Kealiʻi Hoʻomalu & The Kamehameha Schools Children's Chorus
  8. Hound Dog by Elvis Presley
  9. Can't Help Falling in Love by A*Teens
  10. Aloha `Oe by Tia Carrere (not in CD soundtrack)

Advertising

Trailers 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 21st, 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!".

In the United Kingdom, Lilo & Stitch trailers and TV ads featured a cover of Elvis' song "Suspicious Minds", performed by Gareth Gates, who became famous on the UK TV program Pop Idol.

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