Lilo & Stitch is a 2002 American animated feature, and the first installment in the franchise. It is written and directed by Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois.
Dr. Jumba Jookiba is arrested and put on trial by the Galactic Federation for "illegal genetic experimentation", evidenced by his creation Experiment 626, a small sentient creature with unparalleled intelligence and strength, but also a propensity to cause chaos. Jumba is imprisoned while Experiment 626 is sentenced to exile on a desert asteroid. 626 manages to escape in a spaceship and activates the hyperdrive, causing its guidance systems to malfunction and randomly set a course for Earth. 626 crash lands on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, only to be knocked unconscious by three passing trucks and taken to an animal shelter. The Grand Councilwoman dispatches Jumba and Agent Pleakley, the Council's expert on Earth, to the planet to have 626 captured discreetly.
On Kauai, a young woman named Nani has been struggling with caring for her rambunctious and friendless younger sister, Lilo, following the death of their parents in a car accident. A social worker named Cobra Bubbles expresses increasing concern that Nani is unable to take adequate care of Lilo. To reduce Lilo's grief, Nani decides to let Lilo adopt a dog. At the shelter, Lilo immediately takes a keen interest in Experiment 626, who is impersonating a dog, in order to escape captivity. In spite of Nani's doubts, Lilo names 626 "Stitch" and shows him around the island.
That evening, as Lilo and Stitch eat dinner at the restaurant where Nani works, Jumba and Pleakley try but fail to capture Stitch. The resulting chaos is blamed on Stitch, causing Nani to be fired. The next day, Cobra warns Nani that if she doesn't get another job, Cobra will have to place Lilo with a foster family. As Nani attempts to find another job, Lilo tries educating Stitch about Elvis Presley, whom she calls a "model citizen". However, Stitch's antics, including evading Jumba and Pleakley, ruin Nani's chances of finding work.
Nani's friend, David, invites Nani and Lilo to take a break and enjoy a day of surfing. While Nani, Lilo and Stitch ride on a huge wave, Jumba makes one final effort to capture Stitch from underwater, causing Nani to wipe out, and Stitch unintentionally pulls Lilo down with him. Although everyone gets safely to shore, Cobra witnesses this unfortunate event, telling Nani that although she means well, Lilo will have to be taken away. After seeing how much trouble he has caused, Stitch runs off.
The next morning, the Councilwoman relieves Jumba and Pleakley of their assignment, giving it to the militant Captain Gantu instead, freeing Jumba to pursue Stitch using less covert methods. Meanwhile, David informs Nani of a job opportunity, which Nani rushes to pursue. Stitch, hiding in the nearby woods, encounters Jumba, who chases Stitch back to Lilo's house. A fight ensues, which ends in Lilo and Nani's house being blown up. Cobra arrives to collect Lilo and take her away. As Nani and Cobra argue, Lilo runs away and encounters Stitch, who reveals his alien identity just moments before Captain Gantu captures both of them. Stitch manages to escape before Gantu's ship takes off and is confronted by Nani. Before he can explain, Jumba and Pleakley capture Stitch themselves. Nani demands that they help her rescue Lilo, but Jumba insists they only came for Stitch. When Nani breaks down, Stitch reminds Nani about "ʻohana", a term for "family" he learned from Lilo, and convinces Jumba to help rescue Lilo. Jumba, Pleakley, Stitch, and Nani give chase in Jumba's spaceship, and eventually rescue Lilo.
Back on land, the Grand Councilwoman appears and prepares to take Stitch into custody and retire Gantu for kidnapping Lilo, but Lilo insists that, as Stitch is her pet under local law, he cannot be taken away. Impressed with Stitch's newfound civility and empathy, the Councilwoman decrees that Stitch will live in exile on Earth and be entrusted into the care of Lilo and Nani, and asks Cobra, who turns out to be a former CIA agent whom she met previously in 1973, to watch over them. Together, they rebuild the house, and Jumba and Pleakley become members of Lilo and Stitch's family as well.
The film ends with various footage and pictures of Stitch and his new family's life together with the song "Burning Love" playing.
- Daveigh Chase as Lilo
- Chris Sanders as Stitch
- Tia Carrere as Nani
- David Ogden Stiers as Dr. Jumba Jookiba
- Kevin McDonald as Agent Pleakley
- Ving Rhames as Cobra Bubbles
- Zoe Caldwell as Grand Councilwoman
- Jason Scott Lee as David Kawena
- Kevin Michael Richardson as Captain Gantu
The film opening at #2 with $35,260,212 in its first weekend, less than $500,000 behind the film Minority Report. In its second week, fell to #3, again behind the Spielberg film at #2. The film raked in $145,794,338 in the United States and Canada, and $127,349,813 internationally, finishing with $273,144,151 in the world.
Lilo & Stitch received highly positive reviews from critics and audiences alike, and along with The Emperor's New Groove, The Princess and the Frog and Tangled was one of only three Walt Disney Feature Animation/Walt Disney Animation Studios productions released during the 2000s to meet with critical approval and make its cost back during its original theatrical run.
- When the movie was shown on television, the part where Nani traps Lilo after she comes out of the dryer was cut out, probably due to time constraints or that the scene was deemed unsafe (as Lilo was hiding in the dryer), and it would set a bad example for children.
- In the book titled Disney Trivia from the Vault - Secrets Revealed and Questions Answered by Dave Smith (who is also known to have his own column in the very first Disney Magazine called "Ask Dave", or the most recent D23 [Disney's community for Disney fans] Web site) of page 4, there was a sign on Lilo's bedroom door with the word "Kapu". "Kapu" means "keep out" or "off limits" in Hawaiian.
- In the detention cell, a Dr. Hämsterviel look-alike is shown to be in one of the cells.
- The space dinosaur that was in the detention cell was sent to capture Stitch in the video game Lilo & Stitch: Trouble in Paradise.
- During the trial at the beginning of the movie, Jumba claimed that he would never make more than one experiment, when in fact, he had already made 625 experiments before 626.
- When Lilo, Stitch and Nani are walking towards the electronics store, the Chinese place next to the electronics store is called Mulan Wok, a possible homage to Disney's Mulan.
- One of the surfboards that David carries during the surfing sequence has a red and blue taegeuk like the one on the South Korean flag.
- A stuffed toy Dumbo can be seen on Lilo's easel.
- During the battle sequence where Stitch hits Jumba with a "punch buggy", a Mulan poster is seen in Nani's room.
- This is only the fifth non-musical in the Disney Animated Canon, following The Black Cauldron, The Rescuers Down Under, The Emperor's New Groove, and Dinosaur. However, unlike the ones before and after (Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Treasure Planet, Wreck-It Ralph, Big Hero 6, and Zootopia) it, it does prominently feature music throughout with the use of Elvis Presley songs.
- As of 2018, this is the last Walt Disney Animation Studios film to use full opening and closing credits.
- To pitch the film to Disney executives, Chris Sanders created a booklet featuring the basic concept of the story and characters. Much of the plot of the booklet greatly differs.
- After Stitch destroys the ship's power grid at the beginning of the movie, one of the Gantu's deckhands checks on the computer to see if a police cruiser has been taken. Evidently, the computer terminal has a backup power, which allows it to keep working even if the main power is cut off.
- When Stitch is first escaping the prison ship, the female pilot states, "He's loose on deck C!" and points at a moving red dot. However, the camera then shifts to Stitch, who is still locked in place. This is likely the result of the system being confused by Stitch spitting, so it thinks he's moving around, even though he's not, which produces a false tracking signal.
- When Lilo goes to dance class, the two drummers are seen playing the same kind of drum. When Lilo announces that Pudge controls the weather, one of the drummers has a different drum.
- When Lilo is running from the beach to dance class, she is wearing a striped bathing suit, over which she puts on her grass skirt before entering the building. When she joins the other children on stage she is still wearing her grass skirt, but she is now wearing a tube top. Evidently, she pulled off her bathing suit from under the skirt (in a typical manner for small children) after entering the building, and put on the tube top.
- Mertle the red-haired girl and Elena the blonde girl sometimes have noticeably lighter skin color than other girls, and at other times, they are practically as dark as the others. For example, when Lilo runs to talk to the hula girls after class, Mertle is nearly as dark as Lilo. This happens due to the difference in lighting conditions (granted, not very photo-realistic, but good enough for a cartoon). This is most apparent when the hula girls go out of a shadow into the brightly lit stage at the beginning of the movie. As Mertle walks out of the shadow, her skin color becomes lighter.
- When David sets the stage on fire, the hole on the canopy has a bamboo beam showing through. In the very next shot, the beam is gone.
- When Lilo is talking to the hula teacher about just wanting dance, we can see Mertle in the background holding her arm. On her wrist is a grass bracelet. When we focus on Mertle and she says, "Eww, she bit me!", the grass bracelet is gone.
- When Nani invites Cobra into the house, she opens the back door and leaves it open. But later on, when she is chasing Lilo around the house, the door is closed.
- Lilo is barefoot when Cobra arrives; however, when Lilo is speaking to Cobra, she is wearing her sandals. When Cobra observes Lilo claiming her friends need to be punished, she is barefoot again.
- When Nani invites Cobra into the house, there is a pot simmering on the stove. When she takes the lid off and then turns around, after Lilo walks in, the stove is shown behind Nani and Cobra, and the pot has turned into a frying pan.
- When Cobra is at Nani's back door, the door swings to Nani's right when she opens it. But later, when Nani crawls on top of the dryer and she opens it, it opens the opposite way.
- In the scene after Cobra's first visit, Nani brings Lilo some pizza in her room. Behind Lilo, a neon green star and moon can clearly be seen on the right bedpost. Later on, as the lights go out, the star and moon are clearly on the left bedpost. Later still, when Stitch wakes up Lilo with The Ugly Duckling book, the star/moon isn't even on a bedpost, it's on the headboard between the posts. After that, the star/moon disappears completely to reappear on the window frame for two scenes.
- At the luau, Nani's skirt is short, but when she gets fired, it is long.
- Right before Stitch finds The Ugly Duckling book, he picks up three other books. The first two, Oyster Farming: Is It for You? and Fire Eating for Fun and Profit have their titles printed on the back of the books, and nothing printed on the fronts. This is needed so that the viewers could see the names clearly.
- During the scene when Nani is apologizing to Lilo for yelling at her, Lilo is sitting on the left side of her bed holding her Scrump doll. Then, when Nani picks her up to console her, Lilo casually drops Scrump on the same side of the bed. Yet, when the shot changes, Scrump is now on the far right side of the bed.
- When Lilo is in the restaurant where Nani works, her crayon disappears and then reappears.
- When Nani is telling David on the phone about how Stitch is scary and walks into the kitchen, Stitch's shadow on the wall has four arms, but when the shot switches to Stitch raiding the refrigerator, he only has two arms. This is because he noticed Nani and instantly retracted his lower pair of arms to hide his alien nature. Although initially, at the shelter, he did that with difficulty, but then obviously learned to do it extremely fast. This is explicitly shown after the house is destroyed; he retracts his lower arms in 0.3 seconds when Nani runs past him.
- When Lilo stops Nani from sending Stitch away, Lilo is wearing her red flower dress with sandals. But when she goes to her bedroom, she is wearing her nightgown with no sandals. Evidently, she changed clothes before entering her room. While it may seem strange that her nightgown is not in her room, there is nothing that says it can't be.
- After the house blows up, Lilo's picture of her family is shown with three burned corners in distant shots, but only two are close up.
- When Cobra puts Lilo in his car, the door lock button can be seen on the driver's side. When the shot goes back to Lilo, a different kind of lock is revealed on the passenger's side.
- When David pulls Stitch out of the water after he appears to have drowned, Stitch is facing out, but when you see him again he is facing in.
- When Nani, Lilo, and Stitch come home after the luau, Nani reaches halfway up the wall, turns on the lights, and the sound of the switch flipping can be heard. The light switch can be seen a moment later as she carries Stitch out of the kitchen, but when she tries to carry him out of the house, it has disappeared.
- When Jumba is at Lilo's house trying to catch Stitch, at one point, he rips the plate rack off the kitchen wall and throws the plates at Stitch who is crawling on the ceiling. But a while later, when Lilo calls Cobra for help, the plate rack (and the plates) is back on wall behind her.
- When Jumba tries to capture Stitch in Lilo's house while Nani goes for a job interview, Lilo's sandals vanish between shots.
- Throughout the final parts of the film, Jumba's head keeps switching from big to medium size to big again.
- Stitch's scratch marks on Lilo's glass prison disappear and reappear.
- At one point during "He Mele No Lilo", the two older hula dancers at the left switch places; after that, they switch back to their original places.