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 put on trial by the Galactic Federation for "illegal genetic experimentation"—the evidence of this is Experiment 626: an aggressive creature that is nearly indestructible and learns quickly (such as the obscene phrase: "Meega nala kweesta!"). Jumba is imprisoned while Experiment 626 is to be exiled on a desert asteroid. During transport on Captain Gantu's ship, 626 manages to break out of his cell and cut off the ship's power grid. 626 hijacks a police cruiser unit upon his escape, but finds himself outnumbered and outgunned. Surrounded, 626 activates the hyperdrive and breaks through their defense, setting coordinates at random, landing him on the planet Earth. The Grand Councilwoman orders Jumba to work with Agent Pleakley to recover 626 discreetly. 626 survives his escape attempt to Earth, landing on the Hawaiian island of Kauai (Okina), but is knocked unconscious by a passing truck, and is taken to an animal shelter because he is believed by the truck drivers to be a breed of dog.
After the recent death of their parents in a car accident, 19-year-old Nani Pelekai is looking after her younger, more rambunctious sister, Lilo. They are visited by Cobra Bubbles, a social worker, who is concerned that Nani can not take adequate care of Lilo. He considers putting Lilo into foster care, but Nani does not approve, as Lilo and she are the only remaining members of her family; Lilo does not help as she does not understand what may happen. After hearing Lilo in her room pray to be given a friend (Lilo has no real friends because every girl in her class makes fun of her), Nani agrees to allow Lilo to adopt a dog. At the shelter, Lilo immediately takes a keen interest in Experiment 626, despite serious misgivings that Nani and the shelter worker have about him being a dog. Lilo names 626 "Stitch" and shows him around Hawaii; Stitch quickly discovers escape is impossible due to the island being surrounded by water (his body is too dense for swimming) and that there are no large cities, which Jumba had previously said he would seek out to cause chaos, and suffers a nervous breakdown.
As Nani attempts to find a good job, after being fired because of Lilo and Stitch, she is forced to bring them with her. Lilo uses the time to try to curb Stitch's aggressiveness by encouraging him to behave like Elvis Presley, whom she calls a "model citizen" as well as reading the book The Ugly Duckling to him. Stitch's antics, although at times foiling Jumba and Pleakley's attempts to capture him, also ruin Nani's chances of getting a job. David, a friend of Nani's, sees her at the beach, where she was trying to get a job as a lifeguard. David suggests they go surfing to improve her mood. While Nani, Lilo and a panicking Stitch ride on a huge wave, Jumba makes one more effort to capture Stitch from underwater; as a result, it appears as if Stitch attempted to drown Lilo. Although everyone gets safely to shore, Cobra saw the whole thing and tells Nani he will come by in the morning to take Lilo away from her and leaves feeling sorry for her. After Stitch sees how much trouble he has caused, he leaves, taking The Ugly Duckling book with him in hopes of finding his "family".
The next morning, as Nani waits for Cobra to arrive, David tells Nani of a job offer that she must respond to. Nani tells Lilo to stay at home while she goes to secure the job. Stitch, hiding in the nearby woods, encounters Jumba, who reveals that Stitch can never have a family or "belong" because he was just built to destroy. Stitch races to Lilo's house, followed by Jumba firing at Stitch with his gun. The two fight, with Lilo immediately phoning Cobra for help. The house is ultimately destroyed by the end of the fight, with Nani and Cobra arriving shortly after. As Nani and Cobra argue over Lilo's well-being, Lilo slips away to hide in the forest and finds Stitch, who reveals his true alien identity form to her. While she says how he ruined everything, they are both captured by Captain Gantu, who had been sent to capture Stitch after Jumba and Pleakley failed to do so, and he makes to leave Earth. Nani is shocked to see Gantu putting Lilo and Stitch in a container pod and taking off in the ship. Stitch escapes from the container before the ship takes off, leaving Lilo behind. Nani then realizes that Stitch isn't what she thought he was, and demands he had better speak, just as Lilo always said he did.
While once again trying to capture Stitch, both Jumba and Pleakley are revealed to Nani, and tell her that they do know Lilo, and they can both get her back. Stitch, with help from Jumba's ship and by launching a gas tanker truck out of a volcano, is able to free Lilo and stop Gantu. After they land, they find that the Grand Councilwoman has arrived nearby, in order to capture Stitch personally. When she sees Stitch has developed a sense of respect and compassion, she realizes he has become a civilized creature and no longer an abomination. Using Lilo's certificate of Stitch's ownership, which proves that taking Stitch would mean stealing him from Lilo, the Councilwoman asserts that Stitch, now a part of Nani and Lilo's family, will live his exile on Earth with the humans as his warders. As her guards take Gantu away, she doesn't let Pleakley or Jumba return on her ship, and orders Cobra, a former CIA agent who previously met the Councilwoman at Roswell, to keep an eye on the new family. Stitch, Jumba and Pleakley become integrated into Lilo's family, and the house is rebuilt with the help of the three, David and Cobra.
The film ends with various footage and pictures of Stitch and his new family's life together.
- 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 in 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 Nani, Stitch and Lilo were walking towards the electronics store after buying Stitch, the Chinese place next to the electronics store was called Mulan Wok.
- During the part of the movie where Stitch hits Jumba with a "punch buggy", a Mulan poster is seen in Nani's room.