1 The Mickey Mindset: Disney Animation Reviews #42: Lilo and Stitch

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Disney Animation Reviews #42: Lilo and Stitch

Disney Movie Review: 42/52 - Lilo & Stitch

Ryan Dosier - Lilo & Stitch (2002) does not boast any big-name celebrity voices or classic fairy tale or legend backstories. It is a wholly original tale that relies on expert storytelling, outstanding character development, and amazing comedy to make a resonating, beautiful, meaningful film. It stretches the boundaries of Disney animation more than any feature since Aladdin.

The film combines elements of great sci-fi movies with bountiful Hawaiian culture, mixes in some stunning animation, and careens along with an excellent sense of humor. Lilo & Stitch also heavily and impressively features the music of Elvis Presley. The King’s music accentuates the film in so many wonderful places and adds another layer to the story. The original Hawaiian-influenced music is masterful and gorgeous. It is a delight to listen to and perfectly fits the setting. 

From a design standpoint, Lilo & Stitch is at the top of the class. The designs of the countless alien creatures at the beginning of the film are dynamite, and the rest of the characters look fantastic as well. But the true design highlight of the film is the backgrounds, which are all painted using watercolors and are all perfect. This is one of only two Disney animated features that use watercolor backgrounds (the other is Dumbo) and the effect is soft, light, and beautiful.

Lilo & Stitch has some of the most likable, realistic, and funny characters of any Disney feature. Stitch is a riot right from the start and carries a lot of the emotional weight of the story very well. He is surprisingly impressive for a rabid, animalistic character. He becomes more and more enjoyable and impressive as the film goes on.

But far and away my favorite part of the film is Lilo. This beautiful, wonderfully weird, deceptively funny little girl is a spectacular creation. Animated by the amazing Andreas Deja, Lilo is perfection. Lilo is every weird, misunderstood little kid and I absolutely adore her. She feeds peanut butter sandwiches to a fish that controls the weather, attempts voodoo on her friends, listens to Elvis records, and has a book titled “Roadmaps of Iowa.” Lilo is an amazing character and she’s impossible not to love.

Lilo’s older sister, Nani, is another fantastic character. She is realistic looking, realistic acting, and cares for her little sister more than anything. Their relationship is the real soul of Lilo & Stitch and it works on every level. They are such a realistic, impressive representation of siblings. It’s truly amazing how well the filmmakers captured their relationship. 

Much like The Emperor’s New Groove, Lilo & Stitch creates an entirely new tone for Disney animation and animated comedy period. The film is unending excitement, fun, and humor. There is dialogue comedy, physical comedy, visual comedy, and so much more. My favorite sequence is the montage of Lilo trying to turn Stitch into a model citizen—especially when he hits on the little old lady. Positively hysterical.

But, unlike Emperor’s, Lilo & Stitch is much better at balancing the comedy with real, powerful emotional moments. The whole story is very sad and emotional when you consider that Lilo and Nani’s parents have died and that Stitch has no family. Stitch brings them together and makes them a family again while creating a family for himself. The story is powerfully moving and increasingly surprising. It’s hard to see the last act coming, but it all comes together so well.

It is really, really hard not to adore Lilo & Stitch. The film is sweet, funny, and tugs your heartstrings the entire time. The Hawaiian influence is breathtaking with the backgrounds and the music and the entire culture. Stitch may have become a hugely popular Disney character, but the entire film deserves a lot more appreciation. There is enough charm and heart in Lilo & Stitch to fill most of the past handful of Disney movies.

4.5/5 Weather-controlling Fish

No comments:

Post a Comment