Who would have thought that the ethics surrounding genetic experimentation would be the basis for an animated Disney flick? Thatís the case here, where in a galaxy far, far away (the beings are right out of the bar scene in Star Wars), a thuggish, walrus-esque scientist is castigated for creating a slobbering mutant rodent of sorts ó kind of Mighty Mouse crossed with Taz, the Tasmanian devil. The experiment, called 636 or Stitch (voiced by creator Chris Sanders), is designed to wreak havoc on civilization, destroying buildings and infrastructure.
The Disney family values donít kick in until the experiment escapes, lands on earth, and bonds with the other half of the title. Theyíre both in the dumps; six-year-old parentless Lilo (Daveigh Chase) has a menacing Social Service agent (Ving Rhames) looming at every turn, and Stitch, marooned on a small Hawaiian island, canít find anything to lay waste to. The film, directed by Sanders and Dean Deblois, is scrumptious to behold, but the laconic protagonists, who remain overaggressive and aggravating, subvert the visual splendor. The plot does venture into uncharacteristically dark territory, and thereís a smattering of odds and sods (Roswell, Elvis, and a CIA plot) to keep things engaging. Itís an alluring mélange that impresses as much as it frustrates.