Typical of routine made-for-vid sequels to hit Mouse Factory toons, Disney’s “Lilo & Stitch 2” is an unremarkable but inoffensive trifle that likely will play best with undemanding tykes who want to spend more time with engaging animated characters. Conspicuously tamer and schmaltzier than more rambunctious (and, occasionally, more anarchic) 2002 predecessor, vidpic should nonetheless post brisk sales and rental numbers. Prospects for ongoing franchise appear rosy.
Working from lightweight scenario they co-wrote with Alexa Junge and Eddie Guzelian, co-helmers Tony Leondis and Michael LaBash dutifully continue the saga of Stitch — aka Experiment 626 — a diminutive bright-blue extraterrestrial who appears to be the love child of a koala bear and a hyperactive Smurf.
Having settled into semi-domestication on the Garden Isle of Kauai, Stitch (voiced by Chris Sander, repeating from original pic) is equal parts pet and playmate for Lilo (Dakota Fanning), a spunky Hawaiian girl who has resided with her older sister Nani (Tia Carrere) since the death of their parents. Newly expanded household also includes two other transplanted aliens intro’d in the previous pic: Jumba (David Ogden Stiers), a rotund, Russian-accented scientist who invented Stitch back on their home planet, and Pleakley (Kevin McDonald), a one-eyed, three-footed associate who’s rather too fond of donning female attire every chance he gets.
Wispy plot finds Lilo hoping to enter a hula competition that, years earlier, bestowed first-place honors on her late, lovely mother. Unfortunately, she’s so wrapped up in rehearsals that she fails to fully recognize the tell-tale signs that the ever-frenetic Stitch is even more manic than usual.
Poor little critter is afflicted with a “glitch” that brings out his dark side. Jumba struggles to find a cure, but he’s hampered by limitations of Earthly technology. Ultimately, it’s human love, not alien science, that saves the day.
Shamelessly sentimental climax doubtless will remind grownup viewers of a similar twist in “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.” But never mind: “Lilo & Stitch 2” is aimed at small children, not their more sophisticated parents. And chances are good that tykes who view (and repeatedly re-view) this vidpic won’t know or care how derivative it really is. Relatively slack pacing will be problematical only with the most attention-deficient small fry.
Sequel faithfully replicates original’s visual scheme — there’s a lovely watercolor look to the backgrounds — and reprises the gimmick of using amusingly appropriate Elvis Presley standards on the soundtrack. (JXL remix of “A Little Less Conversation” is especially effective in this context.)
Except for Fanning, who replaces Daveigh Chase as the voice of Lilo, major vocal talents are welcome returnees from 2002 pic.
For the record: “Lilo & Stitch 2” actually is second made-for-vid sequel to “Lilo & Stitch,” following 2003’s “Stitch! The Movie.” And even though new opus is being promoted in ads and vid packaging as “Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch,” the shorter title is what actually appears onscreen at start of vidpic.