Well, after watching Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch has a Glitch, it made sense to also check out Stitch! The Movie, which as I said in that review, actually came first, in 2003. Made during a period of unrest in Disney’s television department when the animators for the television shows went to Disney Channel while Disney MovieToons became DisneyToon and became part of Disney Feature Animation (and thus started to improve), there’s an element of confusion as to which department made this, but I strongly suspect that it was the Television Animation guys, because for one thing, it was a direct-to-video film intended to kickstart a spin-off series they were making, and for another, the quality here is much, much lower than in Stitch has a Glitch, and has Rough Draft written all over it – so it was no surprise to see them in the end credits.
Where Stitch has a Glitch was impressive for a sequel, there is little impressive here. The movements are stilted, jerky and often nonsensical. The character models are loose and often unsightly – especially poor Lilo from the side. The plot itself is functional and entertaining enough, depicting how an evil rival to Jumba called Hämsterviel – Python-esque French to Jumba’s Russian – tries to get his hands on the 625 other experimental creatures Jumba created before making Stitch, as he was Jumba’s partner and financed the projects. Hulking jobsworth Gantu from the original film is hired to get these experiments, currently in capsule form, which he manages to do except that Experiment 221 was already taken by Lilo and Stitch. They kept Experiment 221 because upon hearing about these other experiments, realise that Stitch has a family – ‘cousins’, as they call them – which is rather what Lilo & Stitch is all about. Rehydrated, 221 turns out to be rather like Stitch but with the powers of electricity, and a similar vocal performance from Frank Welker, who for me will always be Megatron.
Thanks to the alliance of these two powerful creatures, Hämsterviel’s rather arbitrary plot – which he adapts from kidnapping Jumba for ransom to killing and cloning Stitch to make his own personal army – doesn’t stand much of a chance of working, especially when upon activating Experiment 625, he finds him to be a fat, lazy yellow version of Stitch with a sandwich obsession, although remarkably unlike his kin a perfect grasp of English in an annoying Brooklyn accent.
In the chaos, the various pods are scattered across
where upon contact with water they will become evil, setting up the
collection-quest scenario of the ensuing series. It’s a bit of a mess and
clumsily-done, but it’s functional and at an hour long hardly outstays its
welcome. It is, however, cheap and rather insipid Disney formula stuff and only
for completists. Rewatch the original instead, or opt for the far superior Stitch
has a Glitch.
On the upside, I know what’s going on when Experiment 221 – renamed ‘Sparky’ by Lilo – attacks in Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep. So that’s a plus!