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|Kevin Krock, editor|
First of all, I need to insert a disclaimer. For some reason Stitch (the character) has built a rabid following among some adults, and I belong squarely in that group. Primary among the reasons why I like Stitch (and the original movie, Lilo and Stitch) is because I believe the creators did an incredible job conveying the themes of abandonment, isolation, and love of familywhile respecting and showcasing both the Island lifestyle and glimpses of comtemporary Native Hawaiian culture. Having grown up in Hawai`i, let's just say the opening hula sequence of that movie had me in tears of joy and homesickness, and I ran out of Kleenex by the end of the movie. [And Stitch is just so darned cute.]
Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch is technically the third movie release in the Lilo & Stitch franchise, but it ignores the second release, Stitch: The Moviewhich was created to provide an introduction to the animated TV seriesand continues with the storyline of the original movie.
You will not be missing anything if you have not seen Stitch: The Movie, or Lilo & Stich: The Series on TV. There is no mention of the other experiments, Gantu, or Hamsterviel, and elements that have blossomed in the TV series, such as Pleakley's transvestivism, are not played to the hilt.
In Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch, we learn that Lilo's deceased mother was an award-winning child hula dancer. This provides the motivation for Lilo to find a perfect theme for the upcoming May Day hula competition so that she, too, can win the competition and thereby make her mother proud.
After careful consideration and research, Lilo decides to depict Holo Mai Pele, the famous Hawaiian legend of the goddess Pele, in which Pele's sister, Hi`iaka, experiences the death and resurrection of Lohi`au, her lover. [PBS has an excellent Web site about Holo Mai Pele here.] Heady stuff for a rated-PG movie; fortunately, Lilo's explanations are kept pretty straightforward and focused on the theme of the strength of love, and how it can bring back a loved one even from death (if you sense a bit of foreshadowing in what I'd admit is a pretty creepy theme, you're right).
While Lilo is busily practicing her hula, Stitch begins to experience physical ailments: Sudden surges of uncontrollable badness, brought on by glowing green eyes. We find out from Jumba, his creator, that Stitch has a defecta glitch. And unless this glitch can be fixed, Stitch will die. Not knowing he has a looming death sentence, Stitch fights his own demons and tries to amend for the bad behavior he exhibits while glitched, but risks losing his friendship with Lilo when his glitch causes things to go awry during a hula dress rehearsal.
Will Lilo win the hula competition? Will Stitch survive? Let's just say that even if it's rated PG, it's still a Disney animation, not a tragedy. That said, parents of young children should probably think carefully before showing this to children who do not yet fully grasp the concept of death. I am going to mask this warning behind a spoiler tag. Just select the text with your mouse button to read:
The goodies are pretty bare-boned in this release. The Origins of Stitch was created by the Toonacious, a Christian family-entertainment company (created by Mulan director Tony Bancroft). It has a different feel from the movie, and although there are moments when Stitch doesn't look quite right, it's a cute piece of entertainment.
Jumba's Experiment Profiler is a multiple-choice quiz introducing you to Jumba's other experiments (and while I was not familiar with any of them, I was able to answer correctly based on the clues given).
Where's Pleakley is also a set-top game, and has you looking for Pleakley in a mass of people, a la Where's Waldo.
Hawaiian Rollercoaster Ride is music performed by Jump 5, one of those Disney-created groups (I would have been happy with the original).
The Audio, Video, and Interface
One concern I had was that the crew from Disney Toons in Sydney, Australia, would not do justice to the beautiful watercolor animation of the original (Disney Toons also did Pooh's Heffalump Movie, which MousePlanet's Alex Stroup reviewed here). Fortunately, the animation quality isn't as bad as the TV series or the second direct-to-video release. The watercolors are very strong on pastels, and attempt to mimic the original movie. That said, I think the original had higher-quality animation.
The audio in general was fine. There are a few scenes where people are talking in the background, and if you have a home theater system, you definitely get a surround-sound feel of having those characters behind you.
All of the same cast members from the original movie are back except one: Daveigh Chase has been replaced by Dakota Fanning, mostly recently seen in War Of The Worlds (starring Tom Cruise) earlier this summer. I had some major concerns about this movie, and this was one of them. I was pleasantly surprised that Dakota manages to sound very much like the original Lilo; there are only a few places where the voice sounds different and is noticeable. To me, Dakota's interpretation of Lilo's voice seemed like just a natural maturation in Lilo. My understanding is that Daveigh was growing up quickly and growing out of the vocal sound the creators were wanting to keep with Lilo. I miss Daveigh's voice, but Dakota is acceptable.
The interface was nothing special, but did keep with the general theme of the movie.
Subtitles are accurate, although the spelling for some of the Hawaiian words are incorrect. One I need to point out because it grated on me after a while: A school that teaches hula is called a halau, not a hulau.
The Final Evaluation
At only 72 minutes long, this movie feels like a TV special; I would have been pretty disappointed to see this as a theatrical release. The intense theme of death in this movie, however, makes it more appropriate for a DVD, but it is extremely refreshing to note that Disney broke a mold by offering up an animated sequel in which the original cast didn't have a child around which to base the sequel on. [I'm guessing an offspring between Lilo and Stitch would not have been an acceptable concept.]
If you are already a fan of Lilo and Stitch and are remotely interested in collecting L&S stuff, then by all means go out and get yourself a copy. If you are as enamored with Stitch as I am, you will be bawling your eyes out.
If on the other hand, you enjoy Lilo and Stitch but are not particularly attached, you might want get this during a sale, or be content to watch the original movie. It is, however, definitely worth a rental.
Thoughts, questions, or comments about L&S 2? Contact Lani here.
The new Mickey Mouse Club, otherwise known as MMC, ran from 1989-1994. The MMC featured skits and musical numbers aimed at a preteen to early-teen audience. This DVD presents only four episodes from the last two seasons of the show, featuring music numbers and profiles of the three titular cast members who went on to become pop superstars: Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, and Christina Aguilera.
Britney's hometown profile shows her getting back to her country roots in Louisiana, riding go-karts and helping out in her great grandmother's deli. She gleefully demonstrates how to eat a crawfish and advises that The head is the best part. Thanks, Brit, but I think I'll pass. She is also featured in a song and dance number with future ex-boyfriend Justin Timberlake, performing I Feel For You.
Justin leads us on a tour of Memphis, Tennessee, including a visit to Graceland where he does a rather bad Elvis impression. Justin likes to ride four-wheelers and play basketball; now aren't you glad you know that?
Christina's profile isn't of her hometown in Pennsylvania, which must have been too boring. Instead, she is shown in her adopted hometown of Orlando, Florida (where MMC was taped) baking brownies. Her musical number, a performance of the Whitney Houston song I Have Nothing, shows the strength of her voice even at a young age.
The skits are largely uninteresting and humorless, although I admit I'm far beyond the target age for this set. I did find the car commercial parody featuring the Bassett 3000 sx to be very amusing, though. Instead of a car, the ad is for a Bassett hound dog, whose many features include a low center of gravity that lets it hug the road and the ability to go from 0 to 60 [miles per hour] in a week. In addition, the inclusion of a serious segment on teen depression and suicide was a bit jarring considering the saccharine nature of the rest of the material.
There are no extras on this set. The closest it comes is having a Highlights menu that lets you skip all the boring parts and go straight to the 5 clips featuring Britney, Justin and/or Christina.
The Audio, Video, and Interface
The set features audio and video from an early '90s television show, so there's nothing here to particularly blow out your speakers, unless you really, really enjoy Hall and Oates.
The Final Evaluation
The title of this DVD is highly misleading, as there is really very little material featuring Justin, Britney or Christina. There are also several other cast members who may catch your attention: future NSync member JC Chasez, Ryan Gosling future star of the film The Notebook, and a pre-Felicity Keri Russell. I didn't time it, but some of them seem to have more screen than the three in the DVD's title.
The show is a poor attempt at a tween-audience variety show. the footage of Christina and Britney is particularly jarring; the girls are both clearly pre-pubescent, but you see glimpses of their future as pelvis-thrusting pop divas. Unless you're a super-obsessed Britney/Justin/Christina fan who needs to own every piece of video in which they appear, you're better off renting this.
Thoughts, questions, or comments about the Mickey Mosue Club DVD? Contact Stephanie here.
Kevin Doc Krock is been a long-time animation buff and home theater fan. He's been following the rise of the DVD format in the home market since its introduction, and he hopes to help you make the most of your family's home theater viewing time and video collections.
You can contact Kevin here.
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