It’s no exaggeration to say the stars of Disney’s latest animated “Lilo & Stitch” are worlds apart. Lonely Lilo – an orphan living in Kauai with her older sister – craves acceptance and a close friend. Stitch – a catastrophic alien science experiment programmed to destroy – finds himself on the lamb from interplanetary police who’ve tracked him to the tranquil island.
The fugitive creature coincidentally ends up in the pound on the same day Lilo looks for a dog to call her own, and an oddball bond of friendship forms immediately.The elaborate set-up masks what ultimately turns out to be another mild Disney adventure that waves the banner of friendship and acceptance like a flag in the breeze. However, some decidedly un-Disney plot elements are employed, giving the production an uneven tone. A broken family? A trained killer of an alien beast? Bravo to Disney for branching out, even if the whole experiment does collapse into exaggerated cartoon violence before too long.Chris Sanders’ screenplay chants the mantra of “Ohana,” the Hawaiian word for family, which means “nobody gets left behind or forgotten.” It’s a noble gesture, just one we’ve heard far too many times before. “Lilo” might not live up to the studio’s grand animated efforts of late, including ‘Beauty and the Beast” and “Tarzan.” But it is a nice rebound from last year’s misstep, “Atlantis.”Grade: C+By Sean O’ConnellJune 20, 2002