"Lilo and Stitch"

Disney's "Lilo and Stitch" gives the audience a fresh perspective on family. (Hollywood.com)
There is an old formula used for movies. You find it in varied forms like "The Three Stooges" short, "Hoi Polloi" and the very funny Eddie Murphy movie, "Trading Places." It focuses on this idea: people are what they are. Nothing can change you because what you are is locked up in your DNA.

"Lilo and Stitch" takes that old idea and gives it the color of Hawaii and the fun of an unusual Disney animated film.

Stitch is a genetic mutation. He was created by Jumba and is the most dangerous creature in his world. Lilo is a little girl who has lost her parents. Nani, her older sister, is trying to raise her.  They live on one of the magical islands of Hawaii. 

Lilo and Stitch get together after Stitch steals a spacecraft and leaves his world. He crashes on Lilo's island. They meet when Lilo adopts Stitch from the pound thinking he is a dog. What follows is manic fun and a wonderful thought in the end.

Nani is threatened by Cobra Bubbles, the social worker. She must improve her life or lose Lilo. Mr. Bubbles looks like a character that belongs in another summer movie, but we will leave it nameless. 

Stitch is being hunted down by Jumba and Pleakley, who have been sent to get Stitch back into prison. Stitch eludes capture by repeatedly using Lilo as a shield. 

The wonderful thought of the movie is a Hawaiian word, ohana, which means family. Stitch starts out as this unruly wild child. In the end he gets tamed because he finds out that everybody has a place. He discovers that no one is to be left behind. This idea is strong enough to transform what is called the most dangerous creature in the galaxy.

"Lilo and Stitch" is the anti-Disney Disney movie. It owes some of its rudeness to another animated film, "Shrek."  Like Shrek, Stitch does things that look rude to adults, but not to kids. There is also great comedy in the things that Lilo does to Stitch. The segment where Lilo attempts to turn Stitch into Elvis Presley is laugh-out-loud funny.

Yet the heart of the film is the idea of family and finding your place. Stitch's favorite book is about the lost duckling. He understands he does not fit, but Lilo's love gives him a place where he belongs. 

This is by far the best animated film from Disney in years. It ranks with "Aladdin" for its over-the-top fun and "The Lion King" for its powerful story. It is superior to the "Scooby Doo" movie that is in release now. It is funny and touching at the same time.

Take your family to see "Lilo and Stitch."  It is well worth the price of admission.

Mike Parnell is pastor of Burgaw Baptist Church in Burgaw, N.C.

MPAA Rating: PG for mild sci-fi action

Directors: Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders

Writers: Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders

Cast: Lilo: Daveigh Chase; Stitch: Chris Sanders; David Kawena: Jason Scott Lee; Nani: Tia Carrere; Pleakley: Kevin McDonald; Mrs. Hasagawa Amy Hill; Cobra Bubbles: Ving Rhames; Jumba: David Ogden Stiers. 

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