Travis McClain’s review published on Letterboxd:
I saw this during its theatrical run and absolutely loved it, but hadn't seen it since. A pal of mine recently upgraded to the Blu-ray Disc that pairs it with its sequel, and kindly gave me her DVD. My niece spent the night last night and when it came time to wind down with a movie (as is our custom), I checked and she said she hadn't seen it. We rectified that.
Everything about Lilo & Stitch is just about perfect, from the action and humor to the characters and message about the nature of family. I couldn't help but to relate to the invocation of "Ohana means family", watching the movie as I was with my niece (by marriage, not blood, and with that marriage dissolving, no less) and the cats, all of whom were strays. It was especially poignant for me given that last Saturday, I unexpectedly had to say goodbye to one of the cats, Harriet. Ohana means she won't be forgotten.
The question asked in 2002 that merits consideration today is, "Would Lilo & Stitch have benefited from being CGI instead of hand drawn animation?" The space scenes may have been more engaging in CGI, but computer animators were still struggling with water at that time. Any boost to space would have come at the expense of the water-centric scenes later, and that's where we see the heart of the story and its characters. That trade would not have been worth making. Plus, I'm glad give that Disney only released a few other hand drawn animated movies after this one that it was done the way it was.
One last observation I had was that there really aren't any white characters in this movie except for the overweight tourists Lilo finds so amusing, and references to Elvis Presley. What's fascinating about Elvis is that he's held up as a "model citizen", yet he's one of the most famous white people known for appropriating from other cultures. That seems a curious theme to explore at another time.
Lilo & Stitch was a nominee in the 75th Academy Awards for Best Animated Feature, but lost to Spirited Away. Given that I've not seen that, I have no comment on their respective merits. Of the other nominees, I've only seen one: Ice Age. There's no contest for me there; Lilo & Stitch trumps Ice Age in every aspect.
Lilo & Stitch Re-Ranked on My Flickchart (#435/1610)
Lilo & Stitch > 50 First Dates --> #435
Lilo & Stitch > The Thief of Bagdad --> #403
Lilo & Stitch > Fat Girl --> #201
Lilo & Stitch > Citizen Kane --> #101
Lilo & Stitch < Bride of Frankenstein --> #101
Lilo & Stitch > For Love of the Game --> #75
Lilo & Stitch < Sawdust and Tinsel --> #75
Lilo & Stitch < Black Swan --> #75
Lilo & Stitch < Up in the Air --> #75
Lilo & Stitch < Hot Fuzz --> #75
Lilo & Stitch < Star Trek III: The Search for Spock --> #75
Lilo & Stitch was re-ranked on my Flickchart to #75/1610
2002 Academy Awards (75th)
(N) ANIMATED FEATURE FILM -- Chris Sanders