Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a GlitchReviewed By David Cornelius
Posted 08/27/05 17:56:53
OK, work with me on this one: the Disney film “Lilo & Stitch” was followed up in 2003 with the direct-to-video sequel “Stitch! The Movie,” which also acted as a kick-off to a “Lilo & Stitch” cartoon, which ran for two seasons on the Disney Channel. There was also “Lilo & Stitch’s Island of Adventures” DVD game, which featured episodes of the TV series as well as new footage. And now there’s the direct-to-video “Lilo & Stitch 2,” which is actually the third movie in the series, yet has nothing to do with the TV show. Oh, and a fourth movie, “Leroy & Stitch,” is scheduled to hit DVD next year and will act as a finale of sorts to the TV series.Pardon me while I untangle my brain.
I’m guessing that continuity is not an issue for Disney. And I’m also guessing that somewhere out there is a Stitch fanatic who’s able to explain to me exactly where “Lilo & Stitch 2” falls into the Stitch timeline. From the looks of things - and the fact that they numbered this one “2” instead of “3” - makes me guess that this story occurs between the first and second movies. Oh, and from the looks of things, none of this really matters at all, as this is pretty much a standalone adventure.
The fact that nobody really bothered to notice that the third movie was going to be the second movie indicates that this must be nothing more than one of Disney’s now-traditional DTV sequel quickies. Indeed, “Lilo & Stitch 2” follows the formula: a rushed, forgettable story (lasting barely more than an hour) capped off by cheap reminders of what we liked best from the original. As a plus, at least the animation’s far better than the majority of Disney’s sequel efforts; the simpler, bolder character design of this series makes it easy for a rush job to not look so rushed, and as such, it comes off looking like one of the few follow-ups on which the studio actually bothered to hike up their quality control. (While not as striking as the “Lion King” series, it’s miles above such junkers as “Cinderella II” and “101 Dalmatians II.”)
In a weird move, the studio has replaced young voice actor Deveigh Chase, who played Lilo in both previous films as well as the TV series, with Dakota Fanning. While not really a shock in the Dick York-Dick Sargent kind of way, it’s a move that doesn’t make much sense at all, considering that a) Chase had such a handle on the character already, b) you can’t even tell it’s Dakota Fanning until you read the closing credits, and c) Disney’s not really hyping up the “Dakota is Lilo!” angle in their marketing. But, I suppose, such an inexplicable decision is in step with the rest of the movie.
The story, such as it is, is a mish-mash in which: Lilo must find the perfect hula in order to win the annual hula competition, which her mother won when she was Lilo’s age - thus providing Lilo with a much-needed link to her mom; it’s revealed that Stitch was never “fully molecularly charged” during his creation, whatever that means, and as such he’s been going haywire, turning bad at random moments for no reason - oh, and if he’s not fully charged soon, he will die; and dopey alien Pleakly convinces David that in order to win Nani’s heart, he must make her jealous.
I’ll admit that this last plotline was kinda funny in an oddball way; Pleakly, voiced once again by the brilliant Kevin McDonald, was the best thing about the first two movies, and the notion of this character playing matchmaker has its cute moments.
But the other two stories? Sheesh. The filmmakers needed to pick just one and run with it, saving the other for a later movie. As it stands, the two plotlines never truly gel, and with such a short time in which to play out, the movie becomes a mess. There’s an absence of logic that will frustrate parents and bore younger viewers (my daughter was barely interested until the final scene), as the script fails to find any workable way to get these two separate stories to click.
Oh, and the screenplay’s decision to ratchet up Lilo’s Elvis obsession by providing an entire chunk of the movie to the King? Prepare to have it lost on an entire generation of viewers, too young to know who this “Elvis” person is or what “Blue Hawaii” is all about. In the first film, the Elvis angle played well, a nice little bonus to an already charming story. Here, however, it’s oversold, the sign of filmmakers desperate to regain the magic of a popular original by repeating points but not bothering to work with them. And so the Elvis stuff in this sequel just hangs there, creating a segment of the film that will not be understood by the target audience (and not found funny or interesting by those old enough to get it).“Lilo & Stitch 2” will, I suppose, play the same effective babysitter role as Disney’s other DTV titles, and some parents and kids will find it decent in a harmless sort of way. But who cares? I’m getting tired of writing complaints on how these titles are nothing more than another example of a movie as a commercial product to be bought, consumed, and then forgotten, and I’m sure you’re getting tired of reading them.
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