U.S. Release Date: June 21, 2002
Distributor: Buena Vista
Director: Dean DeBlois, Chris Sanders
Writer: Dean DeBlois, Chris Sanders
Composer: Alan Silvestri
Running Time: 1 hour and 25 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG (mild sci-fi action)

'Ohana' Means Family
by Sean Saulsbury

Disney's latest animated feature Lilo & Stitch is a story about a monster and a little girl who, despite some of their destructive tendencies, learn the value of family.

The set up: A mad scientist of an alien race genetically engineers a monster to destroy and kill everything and everyone in sight. The leader of this race orders the monster to be destroyed, but before that can happen the monster escapes and ends up crash-landing on the planet Earth—in Hawaii to be exact. The aliens must recapture the monster before he has a chance to wreak havoc on the island. The monster, in an attempt to hide from the aliens, ends up taking cover in a local dog pound.

As this intergalactic chase begins, we are introduced to a little girl named Lilo. She is a social outcast, who is being cared for by her older sister Nani because the rest of her family has been killed. Nani is not the best caretaker, and social services gives her three days to prove that she can provide a proper home for Lilo, or else Lilo will be taken away.

So, in their quest to prove they have "ohana"—the Hawaiian word for "family"—Lilo and her sister pay a visit to the local dog pound to adopt a dog. Lilo chooses a very funny looking dog and names it "Stitch." Unbeknownst to them, Stitch is really the fugitive monster and not exactly the kind of pet they are looking for.

What ensues is a double-sided wild-goose chase: The alien race is trying to capture the monster, while Lilo's sister tries to demonstrate to social services that she is a capable caretaker for Lilo, and that their family (including Stitch) is a functional one.

In the beginning of the movie, it is difficult to be sympathetic towards the two main characters. In one scene Lilo is late for a dance performance and ends up ruining it for her friends. When one of her friends accuses her of messing up the routine, Lilo punches the girl in the face! The movie tries to pass this off as funny, but one only feels sorry for the girls whose dance routine was ruined because of Lilo.

As for Stitch, what exactly is there to like about a creature who's only goal is to kill and destroy?

Still, their quest to keep their family together is genuine, and there is a certain level of sympathy felt for Nani and Lilo, especially because of their dead parents. Stitch slowly begins to learn what value his new family has to offer him, and begins to question his destructive nature. I'm sure that parents and siblings of troublemakers will get the most value out of watching the movie.

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