Leroy & Stitch
This direct-to-DVD movie is the third installment in the Lilo & Stitch franchise. The success of the original Disney animation also led to the development of a TV series, based on the orphaned Hawaiian child and her pet alien-genetic-experiment-mistaken-for-a-dog.
In the cartoon version, Lilo (voice of Daveigh Chase) and her trusty companion Stitch (Chris Saunders) have been busy tracking down and rehabilitating the 625 pervious experimental creatures developed by Stitch's creator Dr. Jumba (David Ogden Stiers). In this movie, the pair and their now fast friends -- the reformed evil genius Jumba and his one-eyed tag-along Pleakley (Kevin McDonald) -- have been summoned to the Galactic Federation to be honored for a job well done.
Lilo is initially excited, but her joy is dampened when she realizes the bestowed rewards mean the foursome will be split-up and sent to various parts of the universe. With the emotional support of her big sister Nani (Tia Carrere), the little girl tries to extend the "aloha spirit" by saying goodbye to the chums that have meant so much to her.
Meanwhile, in another part of the cosmos, the disgraced former Chief of Security for the Galactic Federation, Captain Gantu (Kevein Michael Richardson) takes the opportunity to break his new boss out to jail. The corrupt Dr. Jacques Von H0xE4msterviel (Jeff Bennett) wastes no time looking up his old associate Dr. Jumba and forcefully persuading him to conduct one more genetic experiment. This time the end result is Leroy, a red-colored, Stitch look-a-like.
With this latest indestructible monster and Gantu in tow, the rodent tyrant prepares to rule the universe by removing any possible threat of attack by Jumba's earlier inventions. When Lilo gets wind of his plan, she knows she must round up the old gang to help save the galaxy and protect the critters she affectionately refers to as cousins.
Playing out like an extended Saturday morning cartoon, the story line offers plenty of moments of futuristic battles, fantastical creatures, and moments of peril unlikely to petrify even very young viewers. Although the action/adventure quotient is pretty average, the script does shine with examples of friendship and acceptance -- including softening the relationship between Lilo and the usually antagonistic redhead, Myrtle (Liliana Mumy).
Although it is unlikely to win any awards for uniqueness, Leroy & Stitch does rehearse some of the familiar ideas found in past installments of this franchise. And those warm messages about the importance of family and belonging are still appreciated -- whether or not they feel cloned.