Thursday, 21 November 2013

Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch has a Glitch (2005)

Somewhat confusingly, Lilo & Stitch 2 is not the second Lilo & Stitch film, but the third. It is, however, the direct sequel to the first film, so set before the events of the actual second film, 2003's Stitch! The Movie and its subsequent TV series, the latter still in production when this film came out. For the rather minor, odd child of the Disney feature film studio in the midst of its difficult period, Lilo & Stitch certainly gave rise to quite the franchise - and that's not even mentioning the Japanese series, the bizarre Kim Possible crossover or Kingdom Hearts.

So, before the introduction of any of the rainbow-coloured Stitch derivatives, this film retains a more simplistic, less-gimmicky core. Disneytoon were finally pushing against their bad image of churning out highly inferior sequels and this was even slated for a theatrical release until finally going direct to video...which given that Return to Neverland made it to big screens can be attributed only to nostalgia trumping quality in the world of Disney executive decisions - which I have to say are very probably correct.

For all the negative connotations that come with the idea of a Disneytoon direct-to-video sequel, the quality here is good. The animation is not feature-film Disney but it is also not an embarrassing drop or inadequate for the big screen. The casting is strong - if you can't get the original voice actress for Lilo (because she is busy voicing Lilo elsewhere, supposedly), you can't do much better than getting Dakota Fanning in instead, especially when the two are good friends and she does an excellent impersonation while retaining a few of her own recognisable quirks. Despite not directing this - and How to Train Your Dragon still a few years off - Chris Sanders returns to voice Stitch (as he seems happy to do for just about anything), with helm duties taken by future B.O.O. creator/director Tony Leondis - alongside Michael LeBash.

In a classic sequel to a sci-fi story, and as hinted in the title, here we find Stitch having a glitch. When Jumba made him, he was not quite fully charged-up, and thus he is now losing energy. As he does so, he reverts for a few moments to his original, highly destructive personality. This causes a great deal of problems for Lilo, who is trying to put together a hula dance in honour of her deceased mother, only for Stitch to periodically go feral and destroy things. Little Lilo only sees it as him being randomly cruel, and he himself can only describe it as his 'badness' coming out, so it causes much heartbreak between them, especially when he keeps causing problems on a pilgrimage to all the sites Elvis visited in Hawaii.

Eventually, everything comes to a head and Lilo realises just how serious Stitch's problems really are, seemingly too late. In truth, the ending is very clumsy indeed - how did Jumba's machine get there?? Couldn't we have had a line about the readings malfunctioning or some residual power trickling through rather than the ultimate cheese of it being declared impossible and too late only for it not to be? Especially since, y'know, this being a midquel takes most of the tension out of the situation.

But ultimately, this is better than the vast majority of Disney sequels, and the Stitch story lends itself to continuation. It's simple, its characters are well-defined and interact well - including comedy aliens and hapless love interest for Lilo's big sister - and the chance for a big ole group dance at the end is always going to be sweet. It's uncomplicated, unambitious and clumsy at the end, but it's also very cute, perfectly functional and a lot of fun. So I don't mind recommending this above just about any Disneytoon sequel I've seen except Simba's Pride, and let's face it, there are definitely rose-tinted spectacles affecting my view on that one. 


  1. I remember renting this movie the year it came out and thinking it was...okay. Since it was quite a while ago, all I really remember from it is Stitch's "Disney death" at the end and how cheap I thought it was. Actually, I watched a lot of the Disney sequels around that time and quite a few opted for the "Disney death" ending (if I recall correctly, Bambi II and Lady and the Tramp II) and it got annoying after a while (couldn't they think of something else? We know the main character's not gonna die!) But anyway, I'd need to watch this movie again to really judge it, but it's not the worst of the Disney sequels. Lilo and Stitch themselves are always cute to watch :3

  2. It's definitely a hackneyed and cheap storytelling element, but I generally see it as a chance to see how the characters react to the situation rather than necessarily feeling swindled. It's true that this is one of the laziest examples of its kind, though!