Leroy & Stitch review by Mike Long

In years past, Walt Disney Entertainment could always be relied upon for many things. They used to come through every year (or so) with a big animated movie. In the 1950s and 1960s, the company reliably made nature films. And then there was a string of goofy live-action movies (most of which seemed to star Ken Berry or Dean Jones). But recently, the one thing that one can count on from Disney is sequels. They seem to churn out sequels to everything (Saturday Night Live even did a spoof cartoon about this trend). The latest is a Made for Disney Channel/Direct to DVD sequel to 2002's Lilo & Stitch entitled Leroy & Stitch.

Or rather, it's a sequel to Lilo & Stitch: The Series which runs (ran?) on Disney Channel, which was itself a follow-up to 2003's Stitch! The Movie. Lilo & Stitch introduced the alien creature Stitch (voiced by Chris Sanders) and his Earthling friend Lilo (voiced by Daveigh Chase). Stitch was the 626th experiment created by Dr. Jumba (voiced by David Ogden Stiers). Stitch! The Movie introduced the idea that the other 625 experiments have come to Earth and it's up to Lilo and Stitch to capture them. This in turn became the premise for Lilo & Stitch: The Series. All of this brings us to Leroy & Stitch.

Leroy & Stitch takes place following the (inevitable?) conclusion to Lilo & Stitch: The Series. Lilo, Stitch, Jumba, and Pleakley (voiced by Kevin McDonald) have successfully captured all of the other experimented and found productive placements for them. As a result, the four are rewarded for their service. Stitch is made captain of a BRB (Big Red Battleship). Jumba is allowed to return to his evil science lab. And Pleakley is made chair of the Earth studies department at the Galactic Community College. Lilo is sad to see her friends go, but she wants them to be happy.

However, things soon change when the evil Dr. Hamsterviel (voiced by Jeff Bennett) escapes from prison and forces Jumba to make a new evil experiment, which is dubbed "Leroy". Hamsterviel plans to use clones of Leroy to take over the galaxy. When Lilo and her friends learn of this, they race to defeat Leroy and save Earth.

When I review a film, I typically state in very simple terms whether or not I liked the movie, but things aren't as black & white with these Disney direct-to-DVD sequels. They have to be judged in a certain way. One can't compare them to the Disney theatrical animated films, because they typically pale in comparison. While they aren't exactly rush jobs, they definitely lack the polish and grandeur that inhabit Disney's big-time movies. As Leroy & Stitch is three times removed from it's big-screen cousin, it has to work very hard to be the least bit impressive.

In some ways, the film does work. Separating the four main characters may be a hackneyed idea, but it gives the movie a narrative structure and the audience longs to see the friends reunited. Also, the movie plays to its strengths. There are no big surprises or life-changing events here -- all of the characters do what they are best suited for and because of this, the movie hums along. The scant 73-minute running time whizzes by and the movie never feels intrusive.

But, it never overwhelms with entertainment either. The fact that nothing has been changed serves to stream-line the narrative, but it also means that there is nothing new here. Even though the characters are given new opportunities, they don't change -- this is simply a reason for the story to exist. This low-key approach makes the "movie" feel like an extended episode of the TV series. The backgrounds are also very stagnant here, lending further credence to the low-budget, television production feel.

As a capper to Lilo & Stitch: The Series, Leroy & Stitch doesn't necessarily feel unnecessary. (However, it's hard to escape the thought that it's simply an attempt to extend the franchise.) It's just that the movie is a bit too plain for it's own good. It contains some funny moments and the finale is interesting, but otherwise it's pretty bland. In the realm of "Lilo & Stitch" projects, I would rank it above Stitch! The Movie, but below Lilo & Stitch 2. OK, Disney, enough with the fake sequels! Get to work on the special edition DVD of Lilo & Stitch!

Leroy & Stitch flies onto DVD courtesy of Disney DVD. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The transfer looks very good as it shows no grain or defects from the source material. The pictures is sharp and clear, and never unbalanced. The colors, as one would hope, look quite nice. The digital transfer does help draw attention to the static backgrounds however. The DVD features a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. During any scene involving a space ship, we are treated to a nice mix of surround sound and subwoofer effects, although, as with most family films, the subwoofer isn't overwhelming. The music reproduction is especially nice here.

The only true extra feature on the Leroy & Stitch DVD (other than a set-top game) is a never before seen episode from Lilo & Stitch: The Series, presented full-frame.

4 out of 10 Jackasses

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