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 arrested and put on trial by the Galactic Federation for "illegal genetic experimentation", evidenced by his creation Experiment 626, a small sentient creature with unparalleled intelligence and strength, but also a propensity to cause chaos. Jumba is imprisoned while Experiment 626 is sentenced to exile 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. 626 crash lands on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, only to be knocked unconscious by three passing trucks and taken to an animal shelter. The Grand Councilwoman dispatches Jumba and Agent Pleakley, the Council's expert on Earth, to the planet to have 626 captured discreetly.
On Kauai, a young woman named Nani has been struggling with caring for her rambunctious and friendless younger sister, Lilo, following the death of their parents in a car accident. A social worker named Cobra Bubbles expresses increasing concern that Nani is unable to take adequate care of Lilo. To reduce Lilo's grief, Nani decides to let Lilo adopt a dog. At the shelter, Lilo immediately takes a keen interest in Experiment 626, who is impersonating a dog, in order to escape captivity. In spite of Nani's doubts, Lilo names 626 "Stitch" and shows him around the island.
That evening, as Lilo and Stitch eat dinner at the restaurant where Nani works, Jumba and Pleakley try but fail to capture Stitch. The resulting chaos is blamed on Stitch, causing Nani to be fired. The next day, Cobra warns Nani that if she doesn't get another job, Cobra will have to place Lilo with a foster family. As Nani attempts to find another job, Lilo tries educating Stitch about Elvis Presley, whom she calls a "model citizen". However, Stitch's antics, including evading Jumba and Pleakley, ruin Nani's chances of finding work.
Nani's friend, David, 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 will have to be taken away. After seeing how much trouble he has caused, Stitch runs off.
The next morning, the Councilwoman relieves Jumba and Pleakley of their assignment, giving it to the militant Captain Gantu instead, freeing Jumba to pursue Stitch using less covert methods. Meanwhile, David informs 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. A fight ensues, which ends in Lilo and Nani's house being blown up. Cobra arrives to collect Lilo and take her away. As Nani and Cobra argue, Lilo runs away and encounters Stitch, who reveals his alien identity just moments before Captain Gantu captures both of them. Stitch manages to escape before Gantu's ship takes off and is confronted by Nani. Before he can explain, Jumba and Pleakley capture Stitch themselves. Nani demands that they help her rescue Lilo, but Jumba insists they only came for Stitch. When Nani breaks down, Stitch reminds Nani about "ʻohana", a term for "family" he learned from Lilo, and convinces Jumba to help rescue Lilo. Jumba, Pleakley, Stitch, and Nani give chase in Jumba's spaceship, and eventually rescue Lilo.
Back on land, the Grand Councilwoman appears and prepares to take Stitch into custody and retire Gantu for kidnapping Lilo, but Lilo insists that, as Stitch is her pet under local law, he cannot be taken away. Impressed with Stitch's newfound civility and empathy, the Councilwoman decrees that Stitch will live in exile on Earth and be entrusted into the care of Lilo and Nani, and asks Cobra, who turns out to be a former CIA agent whom she met previously in 1973, to watch over them. Together, they rebuild the house, and Jumba and Pleakley become members of Lilo and Stitch's family as well.
The film ends with various footage and pictures of Stitch and his new family's life together with the song "Burning Love" playing.
- 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 at 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 Lilo, Stitch and Nani are walking towards the electronics store, the Chinese place next to the electronics store is called Mulan Wok, a possible homage to Disney's Mulan.
- One of the surfboards that David carries during the surfing sequence has a red and blue taegeuk like the one on the South Korean flag.
- A stuffed toy Dumbo can be seen on Lilo's easel.
- During the battle sequence where Stitch hits Jumba with a "punch buggy", a Mulan poster is seen in Nani's room.
- This is only the fifth non-musical in the Disney Animated Canon, following The Black Cauldron, The Rescuers Down Under, The Emperor's New Groove, and Dinosaur. However, unlike the ones before and after (Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Treasure Planet, Wreck-It Ralph, Big Hero 6, and Zootopia) it, it does prominently feature music throughout with the use of Elvis Presley songs.
- As of 2018, this is the last Walt Disney Animation Studios film to use full opening and closing credits.