Search This Blog

Monday, January 09, 2012

The Story Of Lilo & Stitch

Yesterday in the blog, we took a look back at some of the achievements and goals that Elvis Presley accomplished in his career.  We also did a bit of a study on the final Top 10 hit that Elvis had on the Billboard Top 100.

That hit of course being 'Burning Love', a number two song for Presley in the fall of 1972.

But did you know that several artists have done a cover version of Elvis' last top ten smash?

Bruce Springsteen sang the song 'Burning Love' during several of his concert sets during the late 1990s and early 2000s.  Melissa Etheridge performed 'Burning Love' at a televised tribute concert in 1994 hosted by John Stamos.  John Stamos himself had sang quite a few Elvis Presley songs during his eight year stint as Uncle Jesse on the sitcom 'Full House'.  And country singer Travis Tritt recorded a version of the song in 1992.

And then there's Wynonna Judd.

The flame-haired country singer who formed one half of the successful country duo 'The Judds' with her mother, Naomi, Wynonna had embarked on a solo career ever since the duo broke up in 1991.  Some of her releases were huge hits on the country charts, while others didn't do as well, but she managed to build up a steady fan base on her own.

And in 2002, Wynonna Judd performed a cover version of Elvis Presley's 'Burning Love' for the soundtrack of Disney's 41st animated feature film.

Here's a clip of the song below for you to hear.

And, the movie soundtrack that the song was featured on was the 2002 Disney film, 'Lilo & Stitch', which featured the voice talents of Tia Carrere, Daveigh Chase, and Chris Sanders (the latter of whom also directed and wrote the film).

But why an Elvis song?  We'll get to that a little later.

Lilo & Stitch was a movie that was made with a budget of $80 million, making over three times that amount back in box office and DVD sales.  Released in theaters on June 21, 2002, Lilo & Stitch stood apart from other Disney releases over the years.  It was one of only five Disney animated films to be set in the present-day (well, 2002 present anyways).  It was also the very first animated feature film to be set in the Hawaiian Islands. 

The movie was also notable for featuring a character that was created almost 20 years prior to the actual film being made.  Chris Sanders had actually created the vision of Stitch way back in 1985 in an effort to pitch a children's book series.  The book deal never came to fruition, but luckily for Sanders, Disney execs saw a future in Stitch, and work began on the production around late 2000.

During the course of the movie, there were some scenes that were edited out and (pardon the pun) stitched together before the film was released.  One noticeable one that was changed was a scene in which Stitch was shown flying an airplane through the streets of downtown Honolulu, Hawaii.  It would have been perfectly fine before the 9/11 attacks, but since the production team was still working on the film when September 11, 2001 occured, the location of the plane scene was changed, and the plane itself was changed to a spaceship.

Oh, yeah, that's one detail I forgot to mention.  Stitch was a science experiment created by aliens in outer space.  And it is here that the plot of our movie begins.

Our story begins in outer space where we're immediately introduced to Doctor Jumba Jookiba (David Ogden Steirs), an alien scientist who has apparently done some bad things.  Considering that he is being put on trial when we see him, that's the assumption that the viewer has anyway.

Turns out, he's on trial for performing illegal genetic experiments.  His latest creation is a creature known only as Experiment 626, a creature that while nearly indestructable, is extremely aggressive and out-of-control.  Jumba is imprisoned in a space prison, while the ultimate fate of Experiment 626 was to be exiled to a deserted asteroid.

Of course, it would be a pretty horrible movie if that were to take place, wouldn't it?  And somehow, Experiment 626 escapes during the flight and finds himself landing on Planet Earth.  The Grand Councilwoman released Jumba from custody and pairs him up with Agent Wendy Pleakley (Kevin McDonald) to recover Experiment 626 before he can do any harm.

Experiment 626 somehow ends up landing on a road in the middle of the Hawaiian island of Kauai, where he is almost run over by a transport truck.  He's knocked unconscious, and some people end up taking him to the local animal shelter, thinking that he was some breed of dog.

At the same time, there's a secondary plot that is going on.  It's this plot where we're introduced to a little girl named Lilo Pelekai (Chase), who lives with her older sister, Nani (Carrere). 

TRIVIA:  The word Lilo is Hawaiian for 'Lost'.

Nani, who is only eighteen/nineteen when the film begins, has been taking care of her younger sister since their parents died in an automobile accident.  To complicate things further for Nani, a social worker, Cobra Bubbles (Ving Rhames), has doubts that Nani can provide adequate care for Lilo.  But when Cobra suggests that Nani put Lilo in foster care, Nani dismisses the idea, as the last thing she wants is for the two of them to be separated, given that they're the only family that they have left.

Lilo, meanwhile, has problems of her own.  Aside from the fact that she's had to cope with losing her parents at a young age, she has been suffering abuse from her classmates in addition.  One girl in particular, Mertle, is especially cruel to her, and I'll admit that she's just the type of girl that you really wanted Lilo to punch squarely in the face.  She was awful, and she and her little clique of friends did everything possible to make Lilo feel terrible.  It wasn't nice to see Lilo so unhappy.  And, when Nani overheard Lilo praying for a 'real' friend, she came up with an idea.

She would take Lilo to the animal shelter to adopt a pet for her to take care of.

(Yeah, you can see where this is going, isn't it?)

Lilo happens to come across Experiment 626, falls in love with the little guy, convinces Nani to adopt him, and she decides to give him the name of 'Stitch'.

Hence, Lilo & Stitch.

Of course, having Stitch around causes Nani a lot of trouble.  Nani wants to get a decent paying job so she can prove to the social worker that she is capable of taking care of Lilo.  But when Stitch starts acting a bit rambunctious, Lilo tries to make Stitch understand what being good is, and how to behave less aggressively.  She does this by showing Stitch an example of who she believes is the perfect moral example.  A real model citizen.

Elvis Presley.

Now, do you see the Wynonna Judd connection that I brought up at the beginning of this blog post?  Turns out the soundtrack for the movie contained no less than seven of Elvis' greatest hits.  Two were cover versions.  One by Wynonna, and one by a largely forgettable Swedish ABBA wannabe group known as the A*Teens.  The other five were Elvis originals, featuring hits like 'Suspicious Minds' and 'Hound Dog', just to name a couple.

And that's essentially what the first part of the film is.  We have Plot A, which shows Jumba trying to relocate his experiment before it fell into the wrong hands.  We have Plot B, which shows Nani trying to find a way to convince the social workers that she is capable of taking care of her sister who is still a minor.  And Plot C, which shows Lilo trying to tame a wild Stitch, which is a journey that will keep the audience in...well...stitches. 

I know.  Couldn't resist.

So, eventually, you know that at some point, all three of these plots will intertwine, and the end result ends up being very explosive.  Literally.  And by the time all the pieces are picked up, the final few minutes of the movie is a race against time to save both Lilo and Stitch from a future that could be very bleak.

Now, keeping with the Monday Matinee tradition, I won't reveal the end of the movie...all I will say is that you should check it out.  It's probably one of the nicest, most heartwarming Disney films out there.

Of course, would you expect anything less from a Disney film?

No comments:

Post a Comment