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In this episode: Lilo & Stitch
I'm All Shave Ice

According to The King, Lilo & Stitch is "filled with the kind of overwhelming emotion and a type of laugh-out-loud humor that I haven't experienced since I was found dead on my toilet."

I got that quote from my recent trip to Alaska, where Elvis himself was piloting a tourist fishing boat in the on-season. Oddly, no one else recognized him but me, a fact I blame on the rash of crappy-looking Elvis impersonators out there whose really bad side burns and distinctly non-Elvis-looking features have blurred the real King's face in the minds of people across the globe. Plus he's older now and has ear hair. Luckily, I don't care just enough to have been able to recognize him, and we had a lovely chat at the helm of his boat while a grossly under-exercised man named Sly from Nebraska took away everyone else's attention with his attempts to reel in a grossly under-sized King Salmon he'd "caught." Another tidbit I found out from Elvis during this conversation is that, through his lawyers and "psychic" publicity representatives, he allowed Lilo & Stitch to be the first movie in many moons to use his songs extensively because he liked the story so much.

I have spent the rest of the week collecting quotes from other kings regarding Lilo & Stitch. For instance, the cleverly-named King Mohammed of Morocco said Lilo & Stitch was "really cute. But not too cute. That Stitch was a nasty little sucker, mean and bratty, yet somehow completely lovable by the end."

Nepal's King Gyanendra said he really liked Lilo's awkwardness. "She was smart and creative, much like myself, so I could identify with her being an outcast. The Nepalese people will love that about her. The outcast thing gets them every time."

The Sacramento Kings, who blew it in the final round of playoffs against the oddly film-ignorant L.A. Lakers, had several private screenings during the season. "It's just hilarious," said Kings Point Guard Mike Bibby. "Yeah, it's a beautifully animated flick, but it's really funny. [Teammate] Vlade [Divac] laughed so much he kept drooling into his popcorn. He barely speaks English, so it was funny to see him laugh so much. He and [teammate] Hedo [Turkoglu] keep repeating funny lines from the movie to each other and snorting with laughter. Those two!"

Famous large monkey King Kong said, "The striking themes of family and togetherness along with the sublime humor and endearing characters create a warm envelope around the viewer, a glowing envelope of satisfaction and contentment. The film is a jewel. GRUNT!"

Why go through all this trouble to collect quotes? Why didn't I just write a normal review about what I think of Lilo & Stitch? Because you've already heard me go on about it for months now. I've already told you I like it. And I work for Disney, which might just make me biased. So I thought getting a couple kings to back me up was a great way of showing you I mean it. I love this movie, and you really need to see it. And remember, my working for Disney doesn't keep me from lambasting their product if need be (see my reviews of The Little Mermaid II and Atlantis).

The only possible negative someone might be able to find with this movie is that it has obvious moments of emotional dictatorship. A bit about the ugly duckling and the strong "ohana" theme get mushy. Okay, so it can be manipulative, but I'd rather have a movie like this manipulate my emotions than something patently false and useless like, oh, Touched by an Angel. (Yes, that's a TV show, but I saw an episode by accident recently and it was just horrible.)

Pudge the Fish. 
He controls the weather.Those of us at work who have already seen this movie have been known to go off on a bout of line recitation, and because there are so many good, funny lines in the movie, it's as engaging to do as six degrees of Kevin Bacon. I sometimes think of lines from the movie and laugh silently to myself like Ken McFarlane.

What's been most interesting for me about seeing Lilo & Stitch so many times in the course of work is how it has developed. Considering the scope of the whole project, I guess you could say it was nearly done when I first saw it many months ago, even though there was a lot of pencil left in the print. Yet even at that stage, from one screening to the next, something was always slightly different. The unfinished finale of the first version I saw involved a 747 being flown rather recklessly through downtown Honolulu. Of course, after September 11, that had to be changed, and I actually think the new version is better. It certainly fits the story more closely.

Sadly, in the last version I saw, one of my favorite lines ended up being truncated, thanks to the MPAA. It was a simple, innocuous little line uttered by one of Lilo's "friends," and it had nothing to do with the story, but it was cute and funny, exactly the kind of thing a little kid might say. But I guess it was too horribly violent to let into a PG movie. Okay, fine. Fine. Whatever.

Fortunately, many good lines remain. There're plenty there to help keep all the characters lively and entertaining. Really, both Lilo and Stitch are great characters, from their design to their voices to their little quirks. The characters that surround them are also very likable and funny. The inclusion of, shall we say, a black-suited gentleman in an unexpected role is a highlight, as is his name. And what would normally be dubbed the "annoying" character—high-pitched voice, high-strung demeanor—is not at all annoying. "She's just ugly." Heh.

Good PuppyI can't tell you how much directors Dean Deblois and Chris Sanders should be complimented on being able to mix both science fiction and Hawaii into one seamless product. I didn't question the movie's premise once, it seems so natural. It also makes Lilo & Stitch one of the most creative movies I've seen in a long time. It's certainly one of the best Disney animated movies in years. And, Chris, love Stitch's voice.

I hope this movie does well. It's opening against Minority Report, so it may get beat up on its opening weekend. But word of mouth should spread. I hope so. Adults need to see this movie just as much as kids, and Disney needs to make enough money on it to prove to them that wacky, creative, formula-busting movies need to be made more often here. Less Snow Dogs, more Lilo!

Have I still not sold you on this movie? Are you still not sure? Okay, here's one more quote, this time from the King of Pop. "I liked it. It made me giggle. I like to giggle. I like that it was about freaks in normal society who turn out to be the heroes. I like heroes. I like freaks. I want to see it again. Over and over and over. I'd like that."




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©2002 Steven Lekowicz except
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