..

LILO & STITCH 2: STITCH HAS A GLITCH

Review by Ed Nguyen

Voices: Tia Carrere, Dakota Fanning, David Ogden Stiers, Kevin McDonald, Chris Sanders
Director: Michael LaBash
Audio: English DTS 5.1 or Dolby Digital 5.1, French, Spanish
Subtitles: English Close-captioning
Video: Color, anamorphic widescreen
Studio: Walt Disney
Features: "The Origin Of Stitch" cartoon, music video, "Where's Pleakley?" game, Jumba's Experiment Profiler, trailers
Length: 68 minutes
Release Date: August 30, 2005

"There won't be any trouble!  I promise promise!  I triple promise!"

Film *** ˝

The traditional animated film is quickly becoming an endangered species in the movie theaters.  Aside from Japanese animé, the trend towards flashier CG-animation has threatened to banish cel animation to the dust bins of cinema past.  Even Disney, once the proud practitioner of old school animation, is veering towards completely CG-animation for its future "animated" offerings.

So, it is ironic that one of Disney's last, truly successful in-house animated efforts was the traditional cel-animated film Lilo & Stitch (2002).  A surprisingly sweet and tender tale about family and acceptance (albeit with a heavy dose of zany space aliens), Lilo & Stitch won over audiences because it had heart, the one key trait nearly absent in all CG-animated efforts save for the Pixar films.

Lilo & Stitch led to a somewhat inferior, straight-to-video (and out-sourced) sequel, Stitch! the Movie, followed by a television series.  Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch, however, represents an in-house sequel to the original theatrical film and more importantly a return to form, too.  All the favorite characters are back - sisters Nani and Lilo, the mischievous "experiment 626" Stitch, mad space scientist Dr. Jumba Jookiba, and his one eye-balled tag-along, Pleakley.  All the original voice actors are back as well with the exception of Dakota Fanning as the voice of Lilo (replacing Daveigh Chase).

To quickly recap the story thus far, in the first film, destructive little Stitch flees to Earth as a space refugee, crash-landing in Hawaii.  Adopted by orphaned sisters Nani and Lilo, Stitch intrepidly dodges his comic pursuers Dr. Jumba Jookiba and Agent Pleakley until he eventually discovers the true value of friendship and family.  Thus enlightened, Stitch transforms into a kinder, gentler alien and is allowed to remain with his new Earth family, Nani and Lilo.

So, we come to Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch, which picks up the storyline from this point.  Stitch has acclimated quite well to the bright sunlight and warm, relaxed environs of Hawaii (who wouldn't?).  However, not much else has changed.  Exasperated bigger sister Nani is still struggling to rein in Lilo's occasional, wild-child temperamental ways.  Roly-poly Dr. Jumba Jookiba has forsaken his madcap experiments for madcap crop circle creations instead, whereas the comically effeminate Pleakley studies talk shows, fashion magazines, tabloids, etc., in a daily pursuit to grasp the essence of human nature.

While family life for Lilo, Nani, and Stitch remains as chaotic as ever, at least Lilo has found a new avenue for her boundless energies - a hula contest for the upcoming annual May Day Festival.  Lilo's mother once won this same competition many moons ago, so Lilo hopes to continue the family tradition.  She enlists Stitch's help as hula partner to pick a suitable theme for her hula dance (with predictably comical and far-fetched results).  True to the spirit of the original film, Lilo eventually selects the theme of friendship for her dance.

However, as the film's title suggests, Stitch mysteriously begins to manifest little glitches in his behavior.  For short intervals without warning, he reverts to his formerly destructive tendencies, despite his earnest efforts to remain a good little alien.  At the most inopportune moments, he trashes several of Lilo's costumes and rehearsals.  There is even a sense of urgency when Dr. Jumba determines that Stitch has a potentially terminal "illness" associated with his strange antics.  Clearly, something is wrong with our favorite little alien experiment!  So, before the May Day celebrations are ruined, Dr. Jumba must figure out how to cure Stitch of his crazy mood swings.

Okay, this is a Disney cartoon, so everything does turn out okay in the end.  Nevertheless, the inclusion in Lilo & Stitch 2 of a simplistic concept of "death" along with happier themes such as family and friendship does give the film a note of poignancy that elevates it beyond the typical straight-to-video fare.  Parents need not worry - Lilo & Stitch 2 is barrels of fun for the children and hardly a sad film.  Its relatively short length also means that parents can expect to see this film played over and over again (children like repetition, after all).  Still, if Disney can continue to make more enjoyable and delightful animated films like Lilo & Stitch 2, then the tradition of cel animation will always find a receptive audience.

Video *** ˝

Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch is shown in a widescreen color format.  The colors are bold and vivid, with animation surprisingly equal to that seen in Lilo & Stitch.  As a new direct-to-DVD release, the condition of this print is obviously pristine.  The bit transfer rate for this dual-layer DVD-9 disc averages about 7 Mbps.

Audio ****

There are four audio options for the film - English DTS 5.1, English Dolby Digital 5.1, French, or Spanish.  The dynamic DTS track is the ideal choice, but all the audio tracks are fine.  Also, what Hawaiian-themed movie would be complete without an Elvis tune or two?  Lilo is a big Elvis Presley fan, so naturally some of the King's tunes have made it upon the soundtrack.

Features **

This DVD is "enhanced" with "FastPlay," which is a kiddy-friendly way of playing the DVD.  Just start up the disc, and it will automatically cycle through a bunch of trailers, the movie itself, more trailers, and lastly a couple of the bonus features.  Allow the DVD player to sit idly for a few minutes, and the whole procedure starts again.  The "FastPlay" feature will prove most handy for young viewers (or older viewers who have misplaced their remote control).  There are promos for Disney's Cinderella, The Greatest Game Ever Played, a Shaggy Dog remake, and yet another Lilo & Stitch sequel - Leroy & Stitch!  Elsewhere on the DVD, more trailers are included for a revamped Toy Story, Kronk's New Groove, Bambi and the Great Prince of the Forest, the Kim Possible cable show, and "myscene" Goes Hollywood: the Movie.

This DVD is obviously aimed at children, as can be quickly ascertained by a precursory glance over the remaining bonus features.  First up is the animated short "The Origin Of Stitch," in which Stitch activates a secret file by Dr. Jumba Jookiba revealing Stitch's creation.  The cartoon ends with an obvious lead-in to the television show.

Next, there is a music video, "Hawaiian Rollercoaster Ride," performed by Jump5.  This is a pop-lite version of a song from Lilo & Stitch 2.  The music video is mediocre, though.

"Where's Pleakley?" is a "Where's Waldo"-style puzzler.  Locate the bug-eyed alien in various settings against time or another player.  Be forewarned, this game is played more easily with a mouse than with a remote control!

Lastly, there is "Jumba's Experiment Profiler."  Stitch was but one of 626 little fuzzy aliens created by Jumba, and this multiple-choice trivia game asks viewers to select the right "experiment" from Jumba's clues.  Clips from the television show accompany each choice and show the various "experiments" in action.  The congratulatory message at the conclusion of the game is possibly a thinly disguised lead-in to Leroy & Stitch.

Summary:

Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch proves that cel animation is still alive and well.  This film is quite fun and faithfully recaptures the exuberant spirit of the original theatrical film.  If you enjoyed Lilo & Stitch, you'll love the sequel, too!  Recommended for all family audiences.

FREE hit counter and Internet traffic statistics from freestats.com