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DVD Review - Lilo & amp;amp; Stitch


by Marty Demarest

The fun in Lilo & amp; Stitch starts at the very beginning, when the beeping lights of a spaceship draw the familiar arc over the Walt Disney logo. Moments later, we're introduced to one of Disney's least-likely heroes: Stitch, or as he's called at first, Experiment 626, who is on trial in front of some sort of galactic federation. Stitch is a multi-armed blue koala-like creature, and in one of the scenes deleted from the finished film but included on the DVD, (probably due to the 9/11 attacks), we see him toppling buildings like dominoes and flying a spaceship into a building. He also licks the glass of his containment cell and wipes it off with his face. Not your usual Disney hero. Still, look for a drooling Experiment 626 at a store near you -- or more accurately, in Hawaii, where Stitch crash-lands after escaping from the George Lucas film in which he started out.

This is where Lilo & amp; Stitch really takes off. In the Aloha State, rendered throughout in lavish watercolor backgrounds, tourism drives every aspect of life. Even Lilo -- the little girl who eventually finds Stitch and befriends him -- is introduced running to hula practice across a beach crowded with tourists. Her older sister, Nani, works as a waitress at a luau, trying to support Lilo and keep social workers at bay. It's about as alternative and realistic as Disney has ever been: Lilo and Nani scream at each other, slam doors and cry. They also love each other very much, and both parents and children will likely recognize more than a bit of reality in this less-than-Disneyesque home.

At one point Lilo explains to Stitch, speaking as someone who knows about these things, that his badness level "is unusually high for someone your size." That these two little monsters will learn important lessons from each other you can be sure. But there are still gleefully over-the-top spaceship chases, several sad farewells and -- can this be true? -- actual Hawaiian voices and music used before things wrap up. It's certainly one of Disney's most original, delightful films in years, with all of the studio's timeless class enlivened by upping the badness level a little bit. Which is unusual, and very welcome, in a studio of that size.