Not sheepish, but individ-ewe-al (livredor) wrote,
Not sheepish, but individ-ewe-al

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Film: Lilo & Stitch

Reasons for watching it: I had managed not to see this, I think because it came out when I was just at the age of feeling I needed to avoid media marketed at children, and it's somewhat of a classic and the sort of story I love.

Circumstances of watching it: We watched the DVD while we were relaxing after some intense touristing in Budapest.

Verdict: Lilo & Stitch is intensely sentimental about things I'm inclined to care about personally.

I have seen various gifsets on Tumblr which led me to understand that Lilo & Stitch is all about chosen family, but I had no idea at all that it's also about space aliens. In fact it's a really original concept, where Lilo, a child from a troubled background, ends up adopting an alien from the dog pound.

I liked the depiction of Lilo's family, she's an orphan raised by her teenaged sister Nani, and that could so easily be incredibly saccharine, but it's not. The film acknowledges that it's really hard for a young woman with limited resources to be responsible for a young child, and the whole plot revolves around the love between the sisters but it's not a soppy thing, they fight, and Nani is actually depicted struggling to manage the household and bring in enough income. Of course the narrative believes that the sisters should be together no matter what, but Mr Bubbles is not the stereotypical evil social worker trying to take a child away from her guardian for pointless bureaucratic reasons, Lilo actually is in a pretty unstable, even actively dangerous, situation, and Nani loving her isn't enough when she's just not coping (let alone when she's being attacked by armed aliens). Lilo isn't an adorable little moppet either, she acts out in response to her stressful living situation, she's violent, she has social difficulties, she's dark in ways that are much more like real traumatized children than the usual storybook orphans. Also the sisters are dark-complexioned (could be read as indigenous Hawaiians), and stocky with normally proportioned eyes and expressive faces, not uncanny valley exaggerated cute / hyper-feminine.

And Stitch. The blurb on the DVD described him as "mischievous" but he's not mischievous, he's literally a monster created by aliens to be as destructive as possible. And yes, he is cute as well, but what I really liked about this film is that it allows Stitch to be actually monstrous, he's not just an ugly but misunderstood puppy, he actually is violent and dangerous, and with at least human-level if not higher intelligence. It seems to be generally accepted in child psych circles that many children need relatable monsters in their stories, and Stitch really does embody unconditional love, he's not just a bit different like the Ugly Duckling trope (which in fact is referenced in the film), he's loved for who he is very much including his destructive nature. I never felt like a monster (or an alien or a changeling) as a child, but I have a lot of friends who did grow up thinking of themselves in that way, especially neurodivergent folk, and I'm extremely glad that Disney were willing to go all the way with this storyline and not pull punches.

Anyway, the film is exciting and plotty and got me really engaged in the twin storylines of whether Stitch would be captured and whether the family would get to stay together. I teared up several times, including at the little, and broken, but still good line. And I liked the ending, it's satisfying without being too perfect.

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