Leroy & StitchReviewed By David Cornelius
Posted 06/20/06 19:25:47
Here we go again.“Leroy & Stitch,” Disney’s latest direct-to-video sequel in the “Lilo & Stitch” line, is a movie-length finale to the TV series spin-off from the original movie (the series which kicked off with the DTV movie “Stitch! The Movie” and which apparently has nothing to do with last year’s “Lilo & Stitch 2”). If you can get past the pure insanity of all these interwoven releases, you might be surprised to learn that this final entry is, in fact, pretty decent stuff.
The original film is one that’s grown on me over the past few years, its endearing oddball sci-fi notions and gentle themes of family and friendship always resulting in large smiles. The ensuing TV series and DTV efforts, while sporadically cute, always fell short, feeling too mandatory and less adventurous in their storytelling (unlike the original, which took many smart chances in both its fantasy and comedy elements). “Leroy & Stitch” also feels a bit by-the-numbers, but there’s a spark here that’s been missing from the franchise, and that spark livens things up and adds plenty of much-needed charm. This is one of those rare Disney DTV efforts that’s actually worth the effort.
For those who didn’t follow the series, it involved Lilo’s mission to round up all 625 alien experiments and tame them - think of it as a mild yet far less obnoxious version of “Pokémon.” “Leroy & Stitch” opens with the announcement that all experiments have been round up, and all of Lilo’s alien friends may now return to their dream jobs: Dr. Jumba (voiced again by David Ogden Stiers) to his not-so-evil evil laboratory; Pleakley (Kevin McDonald) to serve as professor of Earth studies at a famed community college; Stitch (Chris Sanders) to be the commander of the B.R.B. - the Big Red Battleship. Ah, but there’s no place like home, and soon everyone’s realizing they were better off back in Hawaii with Lilo.
The Leroy of the title is an evil, red clone of Stitch, created by a reluctant Jumba and the villainous Dr. Jacques von Hamsterviel (Jeff Bennett), a bad guy hamster who was one of the few good things about “Stitch! The Movie.” He’s working on whipping up a whole army of Leroys, taking over the world, the whole bit.
While lacking quite a bit of the inventiveness of the original film, there is, at least, the effort to wrap things up on a decent note. Much is put into the animation - not as slick as the feature film, of course, but fairly strong for a lower-rung video release - while the script manages to incorporate the familiar aspects of the series (lessons on ohana, Lilo’s love for Elvis, etc.) without ever managing to feel forced in doing so. Heck, there’s even an ample supply of genuinely funny comedy, and not just the kind that (like the other two DTV movies) depends entirely on McDonald’s comic brilliance.All of this makes “Leroy & Stitch” a pleasant surprise. It lacks the scope of the original, but it does come with a certain sweetness that allows the franchise to wrap up nicely. Kids will no doubt enjoy themselves, while parents will be happy to find one of those rare Disney sequels that doesn’t drive them screaming from the room.
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