Lilo & Stitch – Compared to the few Disney features released before it, I thought this one had better pacing and a better mix of silliness and sentiment. It has a weird premise, with a genetically engineered alien monster coming to Hawaii and posing as a dog, subsequently becoming the pet of a lonely orphan girl named Lilo who lives with her grown-up sister. It had plenty of slapstick sequences, but it still made you care about the characters. It featured watercolor backgrounds, and made good use of its Hawaiian setting. In addition, I found it interesting how morbid they made Lilo, which I guess makes sense considering her situation, but came across as rather dark for a child in a Disney movie. She imagines that a doll she made with an overly large head had a bug lay eggs in its brain and tries to perform voodoo curses on her classmates.
She also has a hobby of taking photographs of fat people, which I guess isn’t dark so much as just unusual.
As an alien agent of destruction tamed somewhat by friendship with a human child, I suppose Stitch bears some resemblance to the titular character in The Iron Giant. Lilo has a particular fondness for Elvis, and several of his songs are incorporated into the movie. It’s weird that they’d do a movie involving aliens and Elvis without including a joke about his being abducted, although they DID have Stitch’s creator express fondness for the song “Hound Dog” even though he knew nothing about Earth. Mind you, he also apparently knows what Christmas and Chanukah are, and all the aliens seem to speak English. The film also uses the trope of aliens thinking humans are really stupid and primitive, despite the fact that their society is pretty much exactly the same aside from a higher level of technology. Oh, and Kevin McDonald cross-dresses even when playing a cartoon alien.
I found it clever how the plot came full circle in a way, with the social worker Cobra Bubbles turning out to be integral to why the aliens decided not to just wipe out life on Earth to destroy Stitch. The ending worked out well for pretty much everybody, too. It wasn’t one of Disney’s bigger productions, but it didn’t need to be. By the way, while this was the first time I saw this movie, Beth saw it at the movies shortly after getting her dog Dewey, and Stitch reminded her of him. I guess a lot of pet owners can identify with living with a creature that’s totally destructive but you still love them dearly.