Lilo & Stitch (Disney film)
"Ohana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind, or forgotten."
Entry #42 in the Disney Animated Canon, this 2002 traditionally-animated science fiction comedy-drama film was critically and commercially acclaimed when it came out, especially considering that Disney Animation was in a lull after the Disney Renaissance ended in 1999. Set mainly in the lush Hawaiian island of Kauai, this movie was a significant breakaway for Disney on many counts, including an unconventional protagonist, "inter-STITCH-al" trailers, the lack of a real villain and the score drawn from home-grown Hawaiian songs and artists - and, of course, Elvis. Unlike other Disney animated films, Disney was hands-off the creative development and did not interfere with the story- director Chris Sanders wanted the film to reflect his own drawing style, and he wrote the entire draft along with his directing partner Dean DeBlois.
Recent orphans of a car accident, sisters Nani and Lilo are practically alone in the world except for each other. Lilo, often lost in her own world, neither understands nor is understood by her hula classmates, and Nani, trying to be responsible, wants to strangle Lilo about as often as hug her. Unbeknownst to them, Dr. Jumba Jookiba, the maddest scientist to splice genetics this side of the Milky Way, stands trial for having created, illegally, a new life form (actually 626 life forms, but it is the 626th that we're concerned with). Stitch has a vast capacity for knowledge, spectacular combat abilities, and a programmed instinct to destroy anything he comes across. Escaping from the United Galactic Federation, Stitch takes a shortcut to the closest planet, which is 70% water (important because he is too dense to swim) - and miraculously lands on the bitty archipelago in the middle of the Pacific, the island of Kauai. He adopts Lilo as readily as Lilo adopts him; however, while Lilo wants a companion, Stitch wants a human shield to deter Dr. Jumba, who is hot on his trail, with the help of neurotic Agent Pleakley. However, Stitch inadvertently learns the meaning of 'ohana: "Ohana means family. Family means, no one gets left behind or forgotten." In other words, True Companions.
The film was both a massive critical and financial success - Stitch quickly skyrocketed into being one of the most popular characters in the Disney Animated Canon, and it launched the directorial career of Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois, who get a bit of Creator Worship for both this film and Dreamworks' How to Train Your Dragon, as well as engendering some bitterness towards John Lasseter when he fired them from Disney. The film is well-remembered and well-loved for being almost like a Studio Ghibli film in how it deftly mixes humor, strangeness and tear-jerking moments into one cohesive whole - as a matter of fact, Japan loves Stitch. He may even be more popular in Japan than Mickey Mouse himself.
The idea of 625 other experiments by Jumba was inevitably too tempting not to develop into Lilo & Stitch: The Series. A few episodes crossed over with Kim Possible, The Proud Family, Recess, and American Dragon: Jake Long. This series was bookended by Stitch! The Movie, a direct-to-video film which kicked it off and Leroy & Stitch, another DTV film that acted as the finale for the series.
During the creation of the series another DTV film was made. This one was called Lilo and Stitch 2: Stitch Has A Glitch. This movie takes place shortly after the original film, effectively acting as a direct sequel, and before Stitch! The Movie. In it, we discover that Stitch was never fully charged during his creation and suffers fits that revert him to his original programming. Unless he is recharged, he will shut down permanently. Lilo and Stitch 2 was originally slated for a theatrical release, but the poor returns from Jungle Book 2 made Disney reconsider just as the movie was complete and had it released straight to video. The fact that none of the other experiments are mentioned nor Gantu is shown as well as the high production values make this pretty obvious that it was meant to be theatrical. Also included on the DVD was a short film, The Origin of Stitch, which also takes place before Stitch! The Movie.
Stitch's habit of sneaking into other shows and platforms resulted not just in the movie's teaser trailers, but also in a short cameo in The Lion King 1/2 and a role in the Kingdom Hearts video game series.
An Anime series, Stitch!, has been made for the Japanese market and began airing in October of 2008, featuring the new protagonist Yuna. The series established itself as a Time Skip from the original franchise in a 2011 episode where Stitch reunites with an adult Lilo. It began airing on Disney XD in North America on October 24, 2011. In 2017, a Chinese animated series called Stitch & Ai aired. That series, co-produced with American animators (including those from Lilo & Stitch: The Series) saw Stitch separated from Lilo again and ending up escaping to China's Huangshan mountains.
- 1 The original film provides examples of:
- 2 The sequel Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch provides examples of:
- 3 The short film The Origin of Stitch provides examples of:
- 4 The sequel Stitch! The Movie provides examples of:
- 5 Lilo & Stitch: The Series has its own page.
- 6 The final movie Leroy & Stitch provides examples of:
- 7 Stitch! has its own page.
- Adult Fear: When Lilo is taken away by Cobra Bubbles - it's gutwrenching.
- A Girl And Her Alien Bioweapon
- Air Vent Passageway: Part of Stitch's escape from the prison transport ship. Justified, because Stitch is small enough to fit into them and he can squeeze into impossibly tight places.
- Aliens Speaking English
- Ambiguous Disorder: Lilo's mix of eccentricities, behavioral issues, social inappropriateness, and unusual interests (not many six-year-old girls these days are obsessed with Elvis).
- American Accents: Hawaiian Creole -- American English as spoken in Hawai'i -- is found throughout the film, and consensus among native speakers is that it was done well.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: A fairly lighthearted take on it, but Stitch is programmed to destroy buildings, back up sewers, reverse road signs, and steal everyone's left shoe.
- Area 51: While finding Stitch's exit from hyperspace to be Earth, the aliens refer to our planet as being "Quadrant 17, section 005, area 51. A planet called Eee'arth.
- Cobra met the high chancellor-type alien in Roswell, they recognise each other.
- Author Vocabulary Calendar: "Abomination!"
- Used to draw early parallels between Lilo and Stitch; both have the word abomination applied to them early on (Stitch by the Galactic Councilwoman, and Lilo hypothetically by herself). The two "Does this look infected to you?" lines serve a similar purpose.
- Related to: Fantastic Racism against genetically engineered lifeforms. See Inspector Javert below.
- Berserk Button: Calling Lilo crazy or bringing up her dead mom in disparaging conversation. In the second case she gets so mad not even Stitch bothers to stop her.
- Big Bad: The most unique variant on this from Disney - the character closest to this role is the Grand Councilwoman, who is the Big Good of the whole galaxy.
- Bilingual Bonus: Lilo has a sign on her door that says "Kapu," which is Hawaiian for "forbidden" (related to the word "taboo")
- Blatant Lies: During Jumba's trial when he denies creating new lifeforms. --> "I would never ever" (Stitch is presented as evidence) "...make more than one!"
- Bluffing the Advance Scout: At the end it's revealed that Cobra did this.
"Saved the planet once: convinced an alien race that mosquitoes were an endangered species."
Jumba: After all you put me through, you expect me to help you, just like that?! Just like that?!
Stitch: Ih. (Yes.)
Pleakley: "Fine?" You're doing what he says?!
Jumba: He is very persuasive.
- Bowdlerization: On the theater and home video version of this movie in the United Kingdom, the scene of Lilo hiding in a clothes dryer was redrawn so that way Lilo's hiding in a strange cupboard with a pizza box for a door (The UK -- no matter what the rating of the movie -- always edits out scenes of harmful, dangerous, and illegal activities that younger, more impressionable viewers will think is okay to imitate). When the film is aired on TV, this part is just outright removed.
- The climactic aerial spaceship battle was originally planned to feature Jumba, Pleakley, Nani and Stitch hijacking a Boeing 747. A good chunk of it was also supposed to happen in a city area with tall buildings. You can imagine how well audiences would have taken that when the movie was released the very summer after the 9/11 attacks.
- Brick Joke: Earth is a wildlife reserve for the endangered species mosquito. It's a throwaway joke at the beginning of the film, it gets a follow-up throwaway joke in the middle of the film and the brick hits you right in the face at the end.
- Car Fu: Stitch is easily strong enough to pick up a car and use it as a blunt object. He hits Jumba with it during Jumba's attack at Lilo's house.
- Call a Smeerp a Rabbit: "I got a new dog, his name is Stitch!"
- Casual Danger Dialog
Lilo: (On the phone) "Hello, Cobra Bubbles? Aliens are attacking my house."
- Catch Phrase: "Ohana means family. And family means no one gets left behind ...or forgotten."
- Cel Shading: All the spacecrafts and automobiles in the film.
- Chainsaw Good: "Oh, it's okay now. My dog found the chainsaw." Though Stitch is stopped before he gets to use it.
- Chekhov's Gun: When Lilo and Nani first 'buy' Stitch at the animal shelter Lilo receives a certificate with a stamp on it stating that Stitch is now hers for two dollars. While this is not truly important at the time, it turns out that that certificate becomes the only reason why Lilo gets to keep Stitch since it would be considered stealing if the Councilwoman takes him away from his owner. Good thing she had it conveniently in her favorite mumu, huh? In Cobra Bubbles' own words, "Aliens are all about rules."
- Cobra gives his card to Lilo when they first meet, she calls him when she's being attacked by aliens.
- Clark Kenting: Stitch, who is believed to be a dog (although a lot of people are incredulous, and Nani notes that he looks more like "an evil koala"), and more notably Jumba and Pleakley masquerading as humans. Could be related to Weirdness Censor.
- It could also be related to people being too polite to bring up the fact that Jumba and Pleakley look like deformed people. When Nani worries about how "swollen" Pleakley's head is and Jumba casually says "Actually, she's just ugly", Nani looks rather uncomfortable.
- Come Back, My Pet: Lilo tells Stitch to go away after she discovers that he's an alien, and that he's the reason that they were being pursued by Jumba and Pleakley. Right after, however, she gets captured by Gantu, and Stitch rescues her.
- Contrived Coincidence: Stitch lands on a small island in the middle of the ocean with no large cities; this renders about 90% of his destructive programming moot. Lilo gives it an unwitting Lampshade Hanging.
- It's lampshaded even earlier by the Genre Savvy Grand Councilwoman with a very deadpanned "of course".
- Creator Cameo: Chris Sanders voices Stitch in all animated incarnations of the character, except for the anime. This includes Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep, which was released a few years after he left Disney for Dreamworks Animation.
- Creepy Changing Painting: A fairly mellow version. As a Freeze-Frame Bonus, a poster in Nani's room has a surprised expression for a few frames after Stitch hits Jumba with a VW Beetle.
- Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon [context?]
- The Dog Is an Alien: Stitch pretends to be a dog despite looking more like a blue koala.
- Disney Death: The employee at the dog kennel believes Stitch to be dead after he was hit by a truck...or three of them. However, it turns out he wasn't dead, he was simply knocked unconscious. Of course, the audience figures out the truth before they do since it cuts to him waking up.
- Don't Split Us Up: Lilo and Nani, and later, Lilo and Stitch.
- Earn Your Happy Ending [context?]
- Embarrassing Last Name: Cobra Bubbles.
- Endangered Species: Averted: mosquitoes. The Men in Black convinced the Galactic Federation that mosquitoes were endangered to prevent alien interference. Apparently, this is the only thing that stopped them from gassing the entire planet when Stitch escaped here.
- Establishing Character Moment: Stitch gets two of these. The first is when he says "Mega nata qweetsa!" (declaring his destructive nature) and later when he says "Hello" to Lilo, which is the first indication that he is not a normal dog.
- Fan Service: David is a Walking Swimsuit Scene.
- The Federation: United Galactic Federation or Alliance depending on the movie/episode.
- Though given that they would have destroyed Earth if not for mosquitoes supposedly being an endangered species, they have at least some traits of The Empire as well.
- Flight, Strength, Heart: Stitch has super strength, a super-retentive brain (can learn any language, alien, human, or otherwise, in a very brief time period), agility, quick thinking -- he's created to be a being of mass destruction. He can also act as a gramophone (stick a claw on a vinyl disc, open Stitch's mouth, and swing to the Elvis). And perfectly regurgitate a cake he just ate.
- Free-Range Children: Lilo is about six years old, yet she runs about Hawaii with Stitch, and no adults.
- In one scene Nani simply hands Lilo some money and leaves her in the middle of town on her own while she's at work. Clearly there was a reason they sent in The Man When Things Go Wrong before Stitch came into the picture.
- Gainaxing: The female lifeguard who Nami attempts to get a job from has some restrained, yet noticeable, bouncing occur as soon as Stitch causes the panic on the beach.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Subverted in that it's not in the movie, but the deleted scene did make it onto the DVD. A segment during the initial trial of Stitch looks briefly at damage he caused on the planet Piztov. Piztov. Say it fast.
- Also, when Lilo tries to make amends after her dance class in the beginning of the movie, one of her "friends" tells her "If you have rabies, the dog-catcher's gonna have to c--"
- Go to Your Room: When Nani tries this line, Lilo retorts "I'm already in my room!"
- Head Desk
- Heel Face Turn: Stitch, then Jumba who has something of a Punch Clock Villain in him, though perhaps a bit of a reversed one.
- Hula and Luaus: Justified; Nani works in one of those tiki-tacky tourist places, until she gets fired.
- Humans Are Special: Subverted at first, then played straight through the concept of Ohana.
- I Just Want to Have Friends: Lilo before meeting Stich.
- Insistent Terminology: Jumba does not appreciate being called an "idiot scientist".
I prefer to be called evil genius!
- Inspector Javert: Captain Gantu, the closest thing to a villain in the story, who is initially only trying to recapture a dangerous, escaped experiment. A mixture of his callous tactics (he knows he's captured Lilo in the same container as Stitch and implies that he falsely believes that Stitch might eat her, yet he leaves her in there anyway) and the Galactic Federation's zero tolerance for failure causes him to be court martialed, after which he spends the animated series as an actual villain before being reinstated.
- Logo Joke: The Disney castle is supposedly abducted by a flying saucer.
- Loud Gulp: Pleakley gives a very visible gulp after dodging a door-piercing Improvised Weapon thrown by Jumba (who was aiming at Stitch but missed).
- "Idiot Scientist": Dr. Jumba Jookiba. Mind you, he prefers being called "Evil Genius".
- The Men in Black: Subverted with Cobra Bubbles, who works as social worker. Then double subverted when it's revealed that he once worked in the CIA and was directly involved in the case with the United Galactic Federation.
- Miniature Senior Citizens: Mrs. Hasagawa, the vegetable lady. She's barely as tall as Stitch.
- Ms. Fanservice: Nani spends almost all of the movie either in cutoffs or a bikini.
- Which is also justified given that she lives in Hawaii.
- Mood Whiplash: On the one hand, you have wacky slapstick alien antics. On the other, the ever-present threat of Lilo being taken away from her sister.
- In particular, when Lilo's house gets wrecked by Jumba and Stitch's fight, it's played for laughs. When Nani and Cobra Bubbles arrive on the scene afterwords, it's not.
- Moral Dissonance: Stitch is confirmed by all of the good guys to be Lilo's property, which (as a criminal, rather than an impounded non-person) means that they allow slavery by galactic rules and advocate it (at least for the purposes of Loophole Abuse).
- Although, given the Federation's reaction to Stitch, it's quite possible that they see him more as an animal than a person. Doesn't make it right, but it makes the reasoning a bit more understandable.
- It's arguably possible that they have to (or are willing to) obey Earth rules in that case, and on Earth, Stitch was considered a pet, which humans claim ownership over. They do refer to Nani and Lilo as his "caretakers" rather than "masters".
- Meaningful Name: Stitch; if something is ripped apart you fix it with a stitch.
- Nigh Invulnerable: Stitch. "I suppose a photonic accelerator cannon at full power might stun him for a moment..."
- No One Gets Left Behind: ... or forgotten.
- Number of the Beast: Stitch's original ID number was 666 until, presumably, Executive Meddling or someone didn't want to be too obvious. It still is, in a way, since his number is 626 (6 and 2 6's.)
- Off-Model: It's a small thing, but throughout the movie, the size of Jumba's head changes. Mostly at the fight near the end however.
- Only Six Faces: All Hawaiian girls look alike. Most noticeably in the dance scene during the opening credits, where if you watch carefully, you'll notice one and the same girl is used for other dancers.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: Agent Pleakley. See Wholesome Crossdressing below.
- Pardon My Klingon: The line "Meega nala kweesta" is an alien insult so vile that it makes mechanical species throw up in horror. Naturally, Stitch uses it once or twice throughout the movie and its spinoffs.
- It's been established that the phrase actually translates into "I will destroy" or "I'm going to destroy" (contrast with "Meega naga kweesta/kreesta" - "I will not destroy"), which doesn't seem bad enough to provoke that kind of reaction. Granted, the phrase was used so much in a humorous context in promotional material that its meaning was likely an added afterthought for the spinoffs. Or they didn't think anyone would bother translating it in the movie.
- During the fight with Jumba Stitch says something in the alien language and Jumba tells him to leave his mother out of it.
- Parental Abandonment: As usual, for a Disney movie; they died in a car crash before the story began.
- Pet the Dog: When the Grand Councilwoman announces Stitch's sentence to permanent exile, she says it shall be "a sentence that shall henceforth be served on Earth." Bonus points for Stitch being mistaken for a dog early in the film.
- A moment which Cobra Bubbles and Pleakley join in on - Pleakley is the first to ask if Stitch really couldn't just be left with them after cursing Stitch and the planet for causing him so many problems, while Cobra Bubbles is the first to realize the ownership loophole and helps Nani and Lilo get back on their feet during the credits.
- Photo Montage: The ending credits.
- Prolonged Prologue: A full 10 minutes go by, dealing with Stitch's imprisonment and escape, before we shift to Hawaii and the opening title/credits.
- Promotion to Parent: Nani, who struggles to balance out her job, social workers, the loss of her parents, Lilo's strange coping methods, and Stitch. Lilo admits that she likes her more as a sister than a mom (done realistically. Nani is young, she has an Annoying Younger Sibling and is trying to balance it all out.)
- Putting a Hand Over His Mouth: Nani does this to Lilo near the beginning, and shortly after wraps her entire arm around her mouth as well.
- Retractable Appendages: Stitch's antennae, back spikes and extra arms.
- Road Sign Reversal: One of the things Stitch is programmed to do.
- Rule of Three: After a failed social counseling inspection, Cobra Bubbles gives Nami three days for a second one to prove herself a competent guardian to Lilo.
- Running Gag: The guy whose ice cream always falls off its cone before he can eat it.
- Scary Black Man: Cobra Bubbles, who is voiced by none other than Ving Rhames.
- Played with. At first, he looks very imposing and acts rather uncaring. However later on, he shows himself to be a lot more than that. He does indeed want Lilo to be safe, but he doesn't want to split Lilo and Nani up because they're all they have in the world, mentioning he'll take Lilo away only because he has to. The end credits show him hanging out with them, watching movies and having Thanksgiving dinner.
- Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: It's said that Stitch can't survive in water since "his molecular density is too great". This would mean simply that he has a higher density than water--I.E, even if he were, for example, to hold his breath, he would not be able to displace enough water to increase his buoyancy enough and he'd still be too dense to swim. In layman's terms: he sinks like a rock and can't swim.
- Shout-Out: When Stitch rips up a drawing of Lilo's, she exclaims, "No! That's from my blue period!"
- Many of the background aliens have designs based on Winnie the Pooh characters. The alien who says "He's loose on deck C" appears to be modeled after Roo, The alien who calculates where Stitch will land is clearly modeled after Piglet.
- Mulan Wok. Also, there is a Mulan poster hanging on Nani's wall.
- In Lilo's room, on the shelf on her easel there's a small Dumbo doll.
- During the end credits, the photo around the dinner table is staged like "Freedom From Want"
- Social Services Does Not Exist: Averted in the most traumatizing way - the contrast of wacky alien hi-jinks with the reality of a teenage orphan trying and failing to support her baby sister is a main plot point.
- Source Music: The opening chant, "He Mele No Lilo", is also the song being performed by Lilo's hula class, for which she is late.
- Standard Snippet: Given that this movie is set in Hawaii, Aloha O'e naturally makes an appearance. However, it's not the silly instrumental steel guitar version that shows up most times this song is used as a Standard Snippet--the lyrics (about saying goodbye to someone) show up, too, in the most utterly heartbreaking fashion.
- Superior Species: The aliens compared to "primitive humanoid life forms".
- Kinda justified though, from the point of view of a galactic-spanning alien empire, Humans are primitive.
- There's No B in Movie: Stitch sees an actual B-Movie on TV, Earth vs. The Spider.
- Trailer Spoof: Nearly all the trailers appeared to be a trailer for some other Disney movie at first, only to be interrupted by Stitch, partly to make it clear it was a lighter, wackier film than the company's usual output.
- True Companions: Though Lilo and Nani are blood relatives, they form an unconventional little ohana with their alien house guests.
- The Unintelligible: Stitch (until he learns how to speak properly).
- Wholesome Crossdresser: Agent Pleakley, who is trying to blend in with Hawaiian tourists. Miraculously, no one notices that the petite brunette accompanying Jumba has green skin, three fingers, three legs and one eye.
- He also ends up wearing a lot of Nani's clothes in the series and other movies.
- Your Mom: "Do not bring my mother into this!"
- Art Shift: Reverted back to the art style of the original movie.
- Berserk Button: "You'll never be like your mom!"
- Also a real Jerkass moment for Mertle. One thing to be childishly snobby, but really, the audience can't blame Lilo for beating her down for that one.
- Disney Death: Stitch.
- The Tear Jerker moment when everyone thinks Stitch is dead is surprisingly long and drawn out for a Disney movie, so that even snarkers who think Disney would never kill Stitch off begin to have their doubts.
- Foregone Conclusion: The abovementioned Disney Death, due to the movie being an Interquel.
- Retcon: The fact that Jumba was apprehended immediately after Stitch's creation retcons the events of some of the Comic Zone prequels, the events of the Experiment 626 video game and Experiment 621 out of existance, though 621 theoretically could've been captured during the series.
- The Other Darrin: Daveigh Chase was busy voicing Lilo for the series, so her friend Dakota Fanning took over the role for this film.
- The Power of Love: The subject of Lilo's hula. Also what saves Stitch at the end.
- Wasted Song: When Stitch "dies", a very sad reprise of 'Always' sung by Hayley Westenra plays, but it was never released on the CD.
- Art Shift
- Call Forward: At the end.
- Early-Bird Cameo: Some of the experiments shown appear in Lilo & Stitch: The Series episodes that had not yet aired at the time this short was released.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: Many of the above-mentioned Early-Bird Cameos.
- Series Continuity Error: Almost all of the experiments are displayed with incorrect numbers. Particularly obvious at the beginning, which shows #617 Plasmoid as #001 (Shrink), #609 Heat as #002 (Doubledip), and #601 Kixx as #003 (Howcome).
- Ambadassador: Lilo to the Galactic Federation.
- Art Shift: The movie has a simpler and thicker lined style than the original film.
- Big Bad: Dr. Hamsterviel again.
- Chair Reveal: In this case, also a type of Chekhov's Gun.
- Contrived Coincidence: Quite a few. Like why do Stitch and Pleakley just suddenly decide to go to Jumba's lab right when Leroy is made? Why would the black hole drop them off right where Lilo and Reuben were? How were all the speakers in the stadium all set up when logically they wouldn't? And that's just to name a few.
- Deus Ex Machina: How they defeat Leroy. Sure the song appears before hand, but when would Jumba have been able to install it as the turn off switch? He was after all being closely monitored.
- We actually see him program it. He plays the song while Leroy is being created and gets away with it because he tells Hamsterviel it will enrage Leroy.
- Still doesn't explain how they got the equipment all set up at the end though. Even if it was already there, it would have taken time to get it all set up (almost a day at least to get it all set up and in the right place, not to mention how they manage to get it to hook up to the speakers in the football stadium, which would have taken even longer) and even still it's way too convenient.
- We actually see him program it. He plays the song while Leroy is being created and gets away with it because he tells Hamsterviel it will enrage Leroy.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: Pleakley on the phone to Jumba: "Don't you miss your Aunt Pleakley? I'm wearing the wiiig...!" We've gone way past subtext at this point.
- Memento MacGuffin: Stitch's tiki.
- Mooks: the Leroys, with the original Leroy as the Elite Mook.
- Puppy Dog Eyes: Played straight with Lilo in the opening scene.
- Series Fauxnale
- Ten-Minute Retirement: Hamsterviel to the Grand Councilwoman.
- Theme Music Power-Up: "Aloha 'Oe".
- Actually an inversion, believe it or not - if Leroy hears the song, he shuts off, a switch that also applies to his clones. Naturally, Lilo, Stitch, and co. perform a rockin' concert to accomplish this. So it's really more of a Theme Music Power Down for the villains.