Written by Hombre Divertido
On March 24th Disney released Lilo & Stitch in a 2-Disc Big Wave edition. This 85-minute animated film was a huge success when it was released in June of 2002, and is still an interesting and visually exciting film, but this new release appears to be, well, stitched together.
Lilo & Stitch take the E.T. formula and turns it upside down as the aggressive and nearly indestructible genetic experiment 626 escapes his prison sentence, makes his way to Earth, and is adopted by the also aggressive Lilo, who loves her unusual-looking dog. Take the antics of the two main characters, throw in Lilo’s overextended guardian and older sister Nani, a mysteriously stern, man-in-black social worker named Cobra Bubbles, and an alien comedy team sent to capture Stitch, put them all in the serene Hawaiian islands, and set all the action to some classic Elvis songs, and you have a film that children are sure to enjoy.
The film has some unusually violent tendencies for a Disney film, as Lilo is certainly not the standard Disney youngster. She hits, bites, and talks back, but the film is about growth and change as both characters display a well-crafted evolution in who they are and how they relate to their environment and those in it. There are some good messages to be found in this film, though parents may need to break it down for children, as the story is a bit busy.
The vocal talents of Daveigh Chase and Tia Carrere, as Lilo and Nani do a wonderful job of capturing the local dialect, as does Jason Scott Lee as the local boy interested in Nani. Co-writer/co-director Chris Sanders has fun creating the sounds emanating from Stitch; and David Ogden Stiers, Ving Rhames, Kevin McDonald, and Kevin Michael Richardson round out a talented cast of vocal artists who bring great energy to this project.
It is the look and sound of the film that will endear it to adults. The watercolors give this film a look that combines the beauty of classic Disney animation with the technology of today, creating images that jump off the screen and settings that draw the viewer in. The imagery is truly some of the best in the Disney vault, and it is hard to go wrong with a soundtrack full of Elvis songs. The entire soundtrack is worth owning as it contains great rock ‘n’ roll along with wonderful songs that are sure to transport you to the islands.
It’s almost seven years since the film hit the big screen and had its eventual DVD release, an animated television series would follow the next year, and then a straight-to-DVD sequel in 2005, so it had to be time for a new release. Disney certainly had enough time to put together something really special, so why does the 2-Disc Big Wave edition seem so thrown together? From no information as to which pieces of material are on which disc, to repetitive content, games listed as samples that aren’t, a ridiculously short hula lesson, and a painfully long documentary, this is a mess.
The reselling of a film on DVD is always about the bonus material, and there is certainly a lot here, but how about putting some effort into the presentation. The second disk is an embarrassment. It loads to an amateurish menu that leads to a documentary which follows the making of the film from inception to premiere, and is exhaustively thorough at over two hours. If that is not enough, the second disk also includes footnotes from the documentary and “Deleted Scenes and Early Versions,” though both features contain a lot of the same material.
The first disk contains the feature as well as some pleasant and educational bonus features including audio commentary featuring producer Clark Spencer and directors/writers Sanders and Dean DeBlois, DisneyPedia: Hawaii – The Islands of Aloha, and the theatrical trailers that creatively inserted Stitch into classic Disney films such as The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, and Aladdin.
Whereas the documentary on the second disk was too long, some features on the first disc are far too short. The Hula lesson will disappoint kids as it could have easily been a terrific piece by providing some quality instruction rather than the three-minute glance that it is, “Burning Love” is nothing more than watching Wynonna standing in front of a microphone singing the song, and though “A Stitch in Time” is certainly long enough at three minutes, it makes little sense.
Recommendation: If you don’t own the wonderfully edgy Lilo & Stitch, than this is a fine way to add it to your collection. If you do already own the DVD, and really want to know more about the film, there is some quality bonus material here, but the presentation certainly could have been better as could some of the content.