Lilo & Stitch is a 2002 American animated action-adventure comedy-drama film produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation and released by Walt Disney Pictures on June 21, 2002. The 42nd animated feature in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series, it was written and directed by Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois, and features the voices of Sanders, Daveigh Chase, Tia Carrere, David Ogden Stiers, Kevin McDonald, Ving Rhames, Jason Scott Lee, and Kevin Michael Richardson. Lilo & Stitch was the second of three Disney animated features produced primarily at the Florida animation studio located at Walt Disney World's Hollywood Studios in Orlando, Florida. The film received positive reviews and was nominated for the 2002 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, which ultimately went to Studio Ghibli's film Spirited Away, which was also distributed in the United States by Walt Disney Pictures.
The 2002 film eventually started a franchise: a direct-to-video sequel, Stitch! The Movie, was released on August 26, 2003. This was followed by a television series, Lilo & Stitch: The Series, which ran from September 20, 2003 to July 29, 2006. A second direct-to-video sequel, Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch, was released on August 30, 2005. A third direct-to-video sequel, Leroy & Stitch, was released on June 27, 2006 as the nearly conclusion to the TV series. Unlike Lilo & Stitch, its sequel features and series were produced by Walt Disney Television Animation.
Dr. Jumba Jookiba is arrested and put on trial by the Galactic Federation for "illegal genetic experimentation", as evidenced by his Experiment 626, a living creature which is capable of creating untold chaos. Jumba is imprisoned while Experiment 626 is supposed to be exiled 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. The Grand Councilwoman dispatches Jumba and Agent Pleakley, the Council's Earth expert, to the planet to have 626 captured discreetly. 626 lands on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, but is knocked unconscious by a passing truck and taken to an animal shelter.
On Kauai, Nani has been struggling to take care of her rambunctious younger sister, Lilo. A social worker named Cobra Bubbles expresses increasing concern that Nani has not been able to take adequate care of Lilo. Seeking a change, Nani decides that she will allow Lilo to adopt a dog and they go to the animal shelter, where Lilo immediately takes a keen interest in Experiment 626, who is impersonating a dog in order to escape. Lilo names 626 "Stitch" and shows him around the island. As Nani attempts to find a good job, Lilo tries educating Stitch about Elvis Presley, whom she calls a "model citizen". Despite this, however, Stitch's antics, including foiling Jumba and Pleakley's attempts to capture him, ruin Nani's chances of getting a job every time.
David, a friend of Nani's, 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's best interests mean she has to be placed with a foster family. After seeing how much trouble he has caused, Stitch leaves. Meanwhile, the Councilwoman relieves Jumba and Pleakley of their assignment, freeing Jumba to pursue Stitch using less covert methods.
The next morning, David tells 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. The two fight, destroying the house in the process as Nani returns and Cobra arrives in his attempt to collect Lilo and take her away. As Nani and Cobra argue, Lilo runs away and encounters Stitch, who reveals his true form just moments before they are captured by Captain Gantu, who has been given the task of recovering Stitch after Jumba and Pleakley are unable to do so. Stitch manages to escape before the ship takes off and is confronted by Nani. Before he tries to explain everything, Jumba and Pleakley capture Stitch themselves. Nani demands they had better rescue Lilo, although Jumba insists they only came for Stitch. Though Nani breaks down over losing her sister, Stitch manages to tell Nani about ohana, a term for "family" he learned from Lilo, in order to convince Jumba to help rescue Lilo. As Jumba, Pleakley and Nani give chase in Jumba's spaceship, Stitch is able to drive a tanker truck full of fuel into a lava flow and use the exploding tank to launch himself into Gantu's cockpit, distracting Gantu enough to crash-land the ship and rescue Lilo.
Back on land, the Grand Councilwoman appears and is about to take Stitch into custody and retire Gantu, but when Stitch explains that he has found a family in Nani and Lilo, she discovers that he has become a civilized creature; Lilo also shows her the adoption paper, declaring she owns Stitch and that taking Stitch would be theft. The Councilwoman, before leaving, decrees that Stitch will be exiled on Earth and entrusted into the care of Lilo and Nani, and asks Cobra, whom the Councilwoman seems to have met before, to keep an eye on them. Together, they rebuild the house, and Jumba and Pleakley become members of Lilo and Stitch's family as well.
- Chris Sanders as Stitch
- Daveigh Chase as Lilo Pelekai
- Tia Carrere as Nani Pelekai
- David Ogden Stiers as Dr. Jumba Jookiba
- Kevin McDonald as Agent Pleakley
- Ving Rhames as Cobra Bubbles
- Kevin Michael Richardson as Captain Gantu
- Zoe Caldwell as Grand Councilwoman
- Jason Scott Lee as David Kawena
- Amy Hill as Mrs. Hasagawa
- Susan Hegarty as Rescue Lady