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'Leroy & Stitch'

That weirdly charming blue alien is back in "Leroy & Stitch," an all-new Disney adventure that combines lots of space action with a sweet story about friendship. Although the DVD is light on extras, the two bonus features are well worth the time it takes to watch/experience them.

The story begins with our heroes Lilo, Stitch, Pleakley and Dr. Jumba Jookiba granted their heart's desire by the Galactic Federation for capturing, relocating and reprogramming the other 625 formerly evil alien "experiments" that were hiding out in Hawaii. As a reward, Lilo is named the official Earth ambassador, while Pleakley is made an honorary professor at Galactic Alliance Community College. Jumba receives the key to his mad scientist's lab back, while the hyperactive Stitch gets to captain the BRB: Big Red Battleship.

As the four friends discover that pursuing your dreams without your friends around is a pretty lonely experience, the wicked Dr. Hamsterviel escapes from jail and forces Jumba to create a new experiment. Leroy, aka Stitch's evil twin, has red fur, an extra set of arms, antennae and a bad attitude. Worse, Hamsterviel masterminds a truly evil army made of Leroy clones. Now it's up to the four pals to reunite and fight off this new evil.

Although it takes half the movie to get to the action, it's nice to get back into space with this latest installment in the "Stitch" franchise. Frankly, these winning characters can be entertaining in any situation, but the grand scale just has more excitement than the more domestic TV series. As always the characters and their oddball personalities are the film's stregths, with Kevin McDonald's voice characterization for Pleakley standing out for pure silliness. The film wholeheartedly embraces the absurd, with plenty of verbal humor for adults.

Following the credits -- which includes a scrolling list of all 626 experiments -- is a bonus never-before-seen episode on the "Lilo & Stitch" show. In this episode, a rogue experiment shoots out a special substance that binds bickering people together, forcing them to cooperate to get free. This also means that Lilo is cuffed with alien goo to the usually annoying Myrtle and discovers that for a brief time, she's not so bad afterall. Oh, and there's a pirate too. Argh!

The "Big Red Battleship Simulator" game is extremely simple to learn, but difficult to master if you just have one of those joystick remotes like I do. Listening to the simulator's mechanical prompts, one must press up, down, left or right in order to navigate through asteroids and space debris. But if you make one mistake or hesitate, you'll instantly "fail the exercise."

The makers of the game also had a wicked sense of humor because of the "annoyance simulation," which is basically Dr. Hamsterviel heckling you while you play. He spouts such nonsense such as "You make me laugh at your dreadful remote controlling" and insults your "sausage-y fingers." The simulator's voice also gets into the action, chastising Hamsterviel. Frankly, I found this game strangely addicting. Even though it was late at night, I played until I passed the course and heard the "awkward congratulatory sequence" in which I was invited to join the "space hazard elimination squad."

Take that, Hamsterviel!

STUDIO: Walt Disney Home Entertainment
RELEASE DATE: June 27
RATING: G
PRICE: $26.99 each
TIME: 73 min.
DVD EXTRAS: Never-before-seen episode from the "Lilo & Stitch" TV series; "Big Red Battleship" flight simulator game
INTERNET SITE: For more info go to www.LeroyandStitchDVD.com

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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