I remember seeing ‘Lilo & Stitch’ when I was 11. I went to see it at the Odeon cinema with my cousin, and it was the first time I had gone to the cinema with someone other than my parents. Not only is this a vivid memory that I have, but it also revolves around a film that I love.
‘Lilo & Stitch’ was released on the 4th October 2002 and follows sisters Lilo and Nani who live in Hawaii. After an alien experiment crash lands near them, younger sister Lilo adopts it, mistaking it for a dog. The alien, whom she names Stitch, starts as a mischievous and chaotic creature, but soon learns what it means to have a family and to be loved.
Despite Disney labelling this as a classic, this can still be viewed as underrated. This isn’t a film that comes up a lot when people think of a Disney film, which is a shame. The way that this film deals with family loss and what it means to be a family is beautiful. Lilo’s older sister Nani is suddenly pushed into the role of a parent when they lose their biological parents, and the film displays how she deals with this situation in a caring and sensitive way. However, they are siblings, so they also have their fights and arguments. And, when Lilo adopts Stitch, she immediately accepts him as part of the family because she wants a friend.
Stitch’s journey from a mischievous creature who was created to destroy everything, to a loving and caring family member is also charming and, at times, emotional. Because he was created in a laboratory, he’s never known love or kindness; it’s a foreign thing to him. But, through Lilo’s ongoing love and trust in him, he learns what it means to be part of a family.
That doesn’t mean this film is without its humour. The film has a lot of slapstick and visual jokes, mainly coming from Stitch as he tries to understand this new world around him, and it’s fantastic. The scene where he creates a model of San Francisco from anything he finds in Lilo’s room, only to subsequently destroy it will always get a chuckle out of me. That, and when Lilo discovers that if she places Stitch’s finger on their record player and opens his mouth, he essentially becomes a speaker (a scene that was used in the trailer). The film is perfectly balanced between its humour and the more serious side of their living situation.
Overall, at 18 years old, ‘Lilo & Stitch’ is still an underrated Disney film that deserves more attention. It’s not only funny but also has great animation and tells us that a family can be anyone whom we feel close to; in this case, Stitch. Like Lilo says in the film ‘Ohana means Family. Family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten’.
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