Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Lilo & Stitch (2002)

I remember having an image, fairly or not, of the 1960s being a time of nuclear families.  You had a mother and a father.  They had two or three kids together and the father was usually in charge.  Things had changed by the time I was growing up in the 1980s.  In elementary school, I remember a kid once asking me which parent I lived with.  When I said both, he assumed I meant they had joint custody.  It wasn’t uncommon for parents to be divorced or even remarried.  The definition of family was different from what I had seen in older shows.

Nani and Lilo lost their parents in a car accident.  Nani, being the older sister, took it upon herself to raise Lilo, but it‘s not easy.  Nani has to be the responsible one when all Lilo wants is her sister back.  Lilo seems aggressive towards her friends, fighting with at least one of them.  Nani decides that it might be a good idea for Lilo to get a dog.

It’s about that time that Experiment 626 lands on Earth.  He was designed to attack major cities, causing all sorts of havoc.  His main drawback is that he’s too dense to swim.  It’s ironic, then, that he should land on an island with no major cities.  It is, however, the island that Nani and Lilo live on.  After being run over by a truck, Experiment 626 is presumed dead or near death, but is taken to the local dog shelter, anyway.  This is where Lilo decides to adopt 626 and name him Stitch.

Stitch was created in a lab by Jumba.  As such, Stitch doesn’t have a family.  Lilo at least has memories to fall back on.  Stitch just has an irrepressible urge to destroy stuff.  He even makes Lilo’s room to look like San Francisco just so he has something to knock down.  Lilo takes it upon herself to teach Stitch better.

The movie is somewhat predictable.  Stitch can’t help but cause trouble for Lilo and Nani.  Many of his actions might be amusing if it weren’t for the presence of Mr. Cobra Bubbles, a tough social worker that’s checking up on Nani and Lilo.  The pressure’s on to look perfect.  If not, Mr. Bubbles will take Lilo away.  This is why it’s a big deal that Stitch leads to Nani getting fired.

The presence of Jumba doesn’t make things easier.  Jumba is sent to earth to get his experiment back.  He’s told not to harm humans, but that doesn’t stop him from making a scene or two.  It also doesn’t stop him from leaving a mess that makes Nani look bad.  It would seem that Lilo has found a kindred spirit in Stitch, but Stitch is proving to be more trouble than he’s worth.  Even Lilo has to recognize that.

It isn’t until Captain Gantu arrives that things come to a head.  Gantu was the one originally tasked with transporting Stitch to be exiled on an asteroid.  Gantu manages to capture Stitch.  In the process, Lilo is imprisoned in the same container.  Stitch escapes, leaving Lilo to be taken away by Gantu.  Stitch takes it upon himself to get Lilo back.

As you might imagine, the movie is geared towards younger audiences.  The big thing to watch for is cartoon violence.  There’s one big gun fight between Jumba and Stitch, which is the worst of it.  There are a few scenes where Stitch talks in his native language, only to have other characters gasp.  We can’t understand what Stitch is saying, so nothing falls on small ears.  Even the death of the sisters’ parents is handled well.  All that’s said is that they went out for a drive one night while it was raining.

Both of the titular characters are ugly ducklings of sorts.  Neither seems to be wanted, but both seem to take to each other.  (In Stitch’s case, maybe it takes a little longer.)  It’s a fun movie.  Many adults will probably see things coming.  Mr. Bubbles is there mainly to create tension, so it’s expected that Stitch will do things to jeopardize Nani’s status as guardian.  Nani tries, but Stitch is not meant to be helpful.  He’s meant to be destructive.

I hope I haven’t turned anyone off from the movie.  It is fun.  Despite being geared towards children, it can be fun for adults, too.  I know there are those out there that will be sold on it simply because it’s Disney.  The movie has the watercolor look of the older films, which is good.    I’ve seen the movie several times over the years and it holds up well.  I wish I could get more movies like this.

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