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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, June 26, 2002

'Lilo & Stitch' delights critics with lovable characters, tale

Lilo, left, and her "dog" Stitch dance a traditional hula as their lives come harmoniously together in "Lilo & Stitch."

Walt Disney Pictures

The reviews for Disney's "Lilo & Stitch" are in, and the summary judgment is almost unanimously thumbs-up (though Entertainment Weekly's Owen Gleiberman, one of the few dissenters, might offer up a different digit). Here's what the critics had to say.

Roger Moore, Orlando Sentinel: "In resurrecting long-dormant animation tricks dating from the age of 'Dumbo,' Disney has rediscovered something missing in many of its recent cartoons — poignance. That makes this, the 41st feature-length cartoon from the House of Mouse, a winning blend of the silly, the sweet and the bittersweet."

Chris Hewitt, Knight Ridder News Service: "Stitch will pull children into 'Lilo & Stitch,' but Lilo is one of the most memorable Disney characters in ages. She acts out when she's frustrated, but Lilo is goofy and lovable and, after a shaky start, her presence brings the movie alive."

Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times: "Looser and less obviously formulaic in its fresh approach to our hearts, the brash 'Lilo & Stitch' has an unleashed, subversive sense of humor that's less corporate and more uninhibited than any non-Pixar Disney film has been time out of mind. With its hand-drawn characters and its use of watercolors for backgrounds, this is a happy throwback to the time when cartoons were cinema's most idiosyncratic form instead of one of its most predictable."

Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly: "The animation in 'Lilo & Stitch' has an engaging retro-simple vivacity, and it's nice to see a movie for tots make use of Elvis Presley, but the story is witless and oddly defanged ... a family movie with a heart that someone forgot to color in."

Roger Ebert, Universal Press Syndicate: "The movie doesn't get all soppy at the end and is surprisingly unsentimental for a Disney animated feature. It keeps its edge and its comic zest all the way through, and although it arrives relatively unheralded, it's a jewel."

Tom Maurstad, Dallas Morning News: "There's not a character or element in this heartwarming comedy that doesn't look, you know, cartoonish. And that's one of the film's great strengths — its happy/cool/weird in ways only a cartoon can be. At least, on the surface. Underneath all that cartoon craziness, however, some real emotions flash and tremble."

Richard Corliss, Time Magazine: "Traditional animation has already seen a tentative revival with DreamWorks' 'Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron.' 'Lilo & Stitch' is lighter, bouncier, loads more fun. So let's predict that this new Disney film will be an old-fashioned, hand-drawn hit. If traditional animators are not to be the modern equivalents of monks creating illuminated manuscripts — craftsmen in a world whose technology made their skills anachronistic — it had better be."