My Favorite Cartoon: Lilo & Stitch
March 28, 2008

My favorite cartoon is Lilo & Stitch. Not the Pokemon-like TV series, which I’ve never seen, but the original movie.

Lilo and Stitch cover
Lilo and Stitch
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It’s just so happy-making. Like most Disney movies, it’s about family. Toddler Lilo and her older sister Nani have been orphaned, and as a result, Nani’s overwhelmed and Lilo’s acting out. Unlike most Disney movies, the adult role model is female. (Ever notice how many missing moms there are in cartoons? Apparently the Aladdin extras talk about how Princess Jasmine was supposed to break this mold and have both parents, but they removed her mother to cut costs, because each main character costs more in design and animation and voice.)

Anyway, I love the look of the characters. They’re not waif-thin and the sister isn’t excessively hourglass. Instead, she’s got a strong, attractive body, with powerful thighs, the better to surf with. Everyone’s emotions are understandable, complex, and well-voiced.

And then there’s Stitch. He’s the alien mutant, bred to be a weapon, who pretends to be Lilo’s dog in order to hide out. (When they go to the pound, all the other dogs are cowering in fear.) He’s hilarious in his demented creativity. His mission is to destroy large cities, and he hates water, so when he lands on an island with no urban areas, he goes a little crazy.

This all leads up to the best line of the movie. Alien bounty hunters have come to capture Stitch, and between them, they’re destroying Lilo’s home. She tries to call for help while watching the fight, only to report “Oh good! My dog found the chainsaw!” And the beauty is, you believe yes, it is a good thing for a destructive alien pet to have power tools.

Then there’s the setting — gorgeous Hawaii, as seen by natives. The culture is apparently quite realistic, due to help from voice actors Tia Carrere and Jason Scott Lee, who are from the islands. The surfing scenes are beautiful. Plus, the Elvis soundtrack, mixed with gorgeous modern hulu songs, is energetic. All in all, it’s a wonderful ride.

The best praise I can give it is that, right after we watched it the other night, I wanted to immediately watch it again. It’s funny and charming and not too sappy and has a bit of bite. Even if I do cry when Stitch says “This is my family. I found it, all on my own. Is little, and broken, but still good. Yeah, still good.”

20 Responses  
Rivkah writes:  

And the background art is phenomenally beautiful. I wish more Disney films used watercolor; it’s such a wonderful medium for a technology that uses projected light instead of reflected light for its images.

It you get the chance to watch the ‘making of’ part of the DVD, it’s about as enjoyable as the movie. :)

Michael Rawdon writes:  

I enjoy this film as well. I sometimes go look up the closing credits on YouTube because they’re so much fun.

Is Lilo really a ‘toddler’? I thought she was, like, 7 or 8 or so.

Johanna writes:  

I think she’s probably 5 or 6. Toddler is probably inaccurate chronologically, but it seemed to give the right idea of her behavior.

Michael Denton writes:  

Although it didn’t make the splash that the Mermaid-Aladdin-Beauty/Beast-Lion King earlier movies made, it’s still a fun little movie and an interesting departure from standard Disney-type movie fare. It’s not necessarily a favorite of mine, but it’s quite enjoyable and I do love the music. Ohana means nobody left behind.

Hsifeng writes:  

“Ever notice how many missing moms there are in cartoons?”

Aren’t parents rare in stories with child main characters in general, not just cartoons?

Lots of stories have the child characters’ parents present…and facing the plot conflicts instead of leaving their children to do that…thus being the main characters themslves instead of letting the child characters be the main characters.

Johanna writes:  

Well, with Disney, the dads are usually there and most of them are kings of some kind. So it’s not missing parents, just missing moms. But I take your point about finding a way to focus on the children.

Adam Arnold writes:  

As a collector of Disney DVDs, I find it really sad that North America still hasn’t gotten a 2-disc release like other regions have. Really as shame since this is such a fun movie, and seems to be a great seller for Disney (in relation, Aladdin was a huge flop on DVD).

Re: Michael Denton’s comment about it not making a big splash. While you would be correct that its not as well-known as Little Mermaid and others from the early/mid-90s, Lilo & Stitch was a huge success for Disney (it earned over 273 million) and kept their 2-D animation studio alive for just a little longer. Plus, it’s hard to deny that the series became an established franchise for Disney as it spawned two direct-to-video movies (Lilo & Stitch 2, Stitch: The Movie) and an animated TV series. Not bad at all.

Lyle writes:  

There are a bunch of reasons why I love this film. One thing that really should be noted is how accurate the hula is and that, overall, it was one of the few fictional depictions of Hawaii that residents totally embraced for getting things right.

Adam, a small nitpick… there are actually three straight-to-DVD releases. Stitch: The Movie set up the TV series (and was assembled by that team, and is lower quality), Lilo and Stitch 2: Stitch has a Glitch (not as great as the source material but very cute and well done) as well as a second DVD sequel Leroy and Stitch (which I haven’t gotten around to seeing yet). Further pointing to what a powerful franchise it was, it took a few years before the Disney Store stopped carrying Stitch merchandise. Only Pixar times have lasted longer these days.

Johanna writes:  

I just watched L&S 2, and I was very disappointed. Very little of the charm of the first carried over; it seemed much more mechanical in its execution, and the ending was purely lazy. (The magic plot-solving machine doesn’t work, so let’s use a magic flower — poof, everything’s ok. And one of the characters even says “it’s unexplainable”, which at that point read to me as “we’re not even going to bother.”) It’s a lot more frantic, without the smooth skill of the first.

But yes, the merchandise … that’s what spawned all this. KC went to Disney World and brought me back a Stitch of my own. He’s cute and fluffy, just like he should be.

C. E. Grayson writes:  

My kids still request this movie regularly. And my daughter had a Lilo and Stitch themed brithday party. My wife even made her a version of Lilo’s green dress. (My son has had his own moments of BECOMING Stitch, but that’s another story).

And the TV series was cute. And featured pleakly as the first regularly cross-dressing character on Disney Chall, which must be some sort of progress.

Bill D. writes:  

This is my very favorite non-Pixar Disney movie ever, for all the reasons folks mention above, but also for the fact that I always get a kick out of movies where the child lead is excessively precocious without being overbearingly cute, and that fits Lilo to a t. To Lilo, it’s all her little world, and everyone else is just sort of wandering through it. After the whole bit in the beginning about not being able to give a tuna sandwich to the fish (“I’D BE AN ABOMINATION!!!”), I knew they had me. And the reasoning for the whole sandwich fiasco in the first place (“He controls the weather.”) had me laughing for several minutes after the fact, which is quite embarrassing in a crowded theater, let me tell you.

Johanna writes:  

Oh, yeah! I wish there was more of that, like when she explains her doll’s large head. Hilarious!

Lyle writes:  

I think my favorite bit was Stitch playing Godzilla — the pause was just long enough to go “Well, I guess it wouldn’t be a Disney movie without the ‘Awww mome…’ Hahaha.”

Roger A writes:  

Both of Aurora’s parents are present in Disney’s Sleeping Beauty and when she is sent away to hide her, she’s raised by three women. So Aladdin wouldn’t have broken the mold. It had already been broken.

Johanna writes:  

Back in 1959! Perhaps I should have said “modern era”, but if you had to go back almost 50 years to find a living mom, I think you’re helping the point. :)

Roger A. writes:  

I was specifically going for a princess character. There are other examples of moms in Disney animated movies (Toy Story, Bug’s Life, 101 Dalmatians, Aristocats, Incredibles), but you’re right in that it’s more the exception than the rule.

What Bolt Could Have Been » Comics Worth Reading writes:  

[…] Sanders, co-director of Lilo & Stitch, my favorite animated film, originally developed American Dog for Disney until he was fired. Under […]

My Disney Vacation Pictures » Comics Worth Reading writes:  

[…] While I was thrilled to meet Stitch, my favorite character. […]

Alan writes:  

Tia’s interaction with makes it work. Did you know she sang the closing credits to Batman: The Mask of the Phantasm?

Lilo & Stitch: Big Wave Edition » Comics Worth Reading writes:  

[…] of Lilo & Stitch on DVD. I’ve talked previously about the content and why this is my favorite animated movie, so here, I’m mostly going to cover the particulars of this edition. […]


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