There’s one in every family.
With an animation style harkening back to the earlier days of Disney animated features, Lilo & Stitch was a surprise hit in the summer of 2002. Though the sequel fails to totally recapture the charm of the original, the inclusion of nearly every single voice talent from the original means it feels more cohesive. Both films are given the Blu-ray treatment in this 2-Movie Blu-ray Collection, and are better off for it.
Stitch (Chris Sanders, The Croods) is an alien from outer space, created in a lab with no family and no purpose other than destruction. Lilo (Daveigh Chase, Big Love) is a little Hawaiian girl who has no friends and has lost both her parents, leaving her in the care of her sister, Nani (Tia Carrere, Relic Hunter). When Stitch is mistaken for a dog and adopted by Lilo and Nani, worlds collide and laughs ensue. In the sequel, Lilo struggles with honoring her mother’s memory, while Stitch worries his increasingly frequent malfunctions will hurt Lilo.
When we first meet Lilo and her sister Nani, things aren’t going well. Since they’ve lost both their parents, Nani is doing her best to take care of little Lilo, who isn’t making it easy. Lilo’s a bit of a brat, to be honest, solving her problems with her peers by biting and hitting. It’s hard for her to be an orphan, and she’s tired of not having any friends. So when she sees a falling star, she wishes for someone to come and be her friend.
It isn’t a falling star after all, it’s a spaceship. Specifically it’s Experiment 626’s stolen ride. He’s a monster created for one purpose — to destroy everything he comes into contact with. His weakness is water and he’s drawn to large cities where he can wreak havoc. Too bad he’s crash-landed on Hawaii, then. However, he’s not the only extra-terrestrial on Earth. His creator, Dr. Jumba (David Ogden Stiers, Beauty and the Beast), has been tasked with retrieving him. He’s accompanied by Pleakley (Kevin McDonald, The Kids in the Hall), whose job it is to keep an eye on Jumba, who’s a convicted criminal. His crime? Creating Experiment 626, of course!
So Experiment 626 needs a way to keep from being captured, and he soon realizes the two aliens after him won’t risk hurting any human. He decides to change his appearance so he looks like a dog — a dog Lilo adopts and names Stitch. However, things aren’t fixed for everyone. In fact they go from bad to worse for Nani, who’s under intense scrutiny from the “special class” social worker Cobra Bubbles (Ving Rhames, Mission: Impossible). He’s already had a disastrous home visit with Nani and Lilo, and when Stitch’s antics causes Nani to lose her job, Bubbles tells her he’s going to have to take Lilo.
That’s not going to be the biggest obstacle. Fed up with the lack of progress on the recapturing front, Captain Gantu (Kevin Michael Richardson, The Cleveland Show) has also made the journey to Earth and ends up taking both Lilo and Stitch, who manages to escape. Stitch must recruit Nani, Jumba, and Pleakley to assist him in his rescue efforts. Things wrap up in the kind of Disney ending you expect.
In the direct-to-video sequel Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch, Lilo (now Dakota Fanning, War of the Worlds) is struggling with what to do for her hula competition. And when she learns her mom won the competition when she was Lilo’s age? The pressure she feels only increases. She’s relying on Stitch to help her but he’s going through increasingly more destructive glitches. But Lilo doesn’t believe they’re out of his control and stops being friends with him. Will Jumba be able to fix Stitch in time for him to help Lilo as she goes through the competition?
If there’s a company that’s better at transferring their titles to Blu-ray than Disney, I’m hard-pressed to name it. Both movies are noticeably improved from their DVD versions. The 1080p transfers are gorgeous, and the colors are crisp and strong. Both Lilo & Stitch and its sequel are drawn in an animation style akin to The Emperor’s New Groove, which came out along the same time. However, the backgrounds are simpler and look like watercolors. In fact they’re typical of the style used in the Disney animated films of the 1950s and early 1960s, which is no coincidence. The style is a deliberate choice used to call to mind the period of time when Elvis Presley was alive and ruling the airwaves.
No other Disney film uses popular music to the extent that Lilo & Stitch and Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch do, and none as successfully. Elvis’ music is almost a character in and of itself, especially in the original. To that end, the DTS-HD Master Audio is perfect, showcasing the King’s music and lyrics in their glory. Fans of Elvis Presley will love how rich the sound is here. Also noticeably improved is Alan Silvestri’s (The Polar Express) score, which has a uniquely Hawaiian influence and really provides a grounding to this story of an alien in Hawaii. There are also multiple language and subtitle options available.
If there’s an area that will cause Disney fans to take up arms, it’s the special features. In what’s becoming a common occurrence, this release features a Blu-ray with both films on it and a DVD for each film as well — and it’s on the DVDs where you will find the special features, annoying some who find that inconvenient. Especially problematic is the lack of porting over the commentary track to the Blu-ray, thus rendering it useless when watching the Blu-ray.
However, I was just happy there were some special features. The special features included on the Lilo & Stitch DVD are: an audio commentary, “Your Ohana” music video, Lilo & Stitch Island Adventure Games, DisneyPedia: 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 A-Teens, Animating The Hula, and “Inter-Stitch-ials” Theatrical Teaser Trailers.
Special features on the Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch DVD include: “Hawaiian Rollercoaster Ride,” a short featurette “The Origin of Stitch” and a couple of in-screen games: “Where’s Pleakley?” and “Jumba’s Experiment Profiler.”
Lilo & Stitch was enough of a success to spawn several sequels and a TV series. The film stands apart in the Disney canon in that it has a protagonist unlike any other. The setting of Hawaii also sets it apart as do the copious amounts of Elvis Presley songs which inhabit the soundtrack. Though diehard Disney fans will likely wait until (if) this is released as a diamond edition complete with special features on the Blu-ray as opposed to the DVDs, I say go ahead and purchase This 2-Movie Collection. Learning that “‘Ohana means family, and family means no one gets left behind, or forgotten” is a typical Disney theme told with unusual protagonists in an engaging story.