Lilo And Stitch is probably one of the most criminally underrated Disney movies of all times. It's incredibly fun, for one, with a cast of hilariously lovable characters. It's got a downright wonderful soundtrack, some managing to flawlessly blend traditional Hawaiian music with Elvis Presley. More than anything, though, it's a beautiful, powerful tale about how a misfit girl and a misfit monster find each other when they need each other, one told with care and love. There's one tiny detail in the film that I want to point out, because I think it really shows off how much time artistry the writers and artists really put into the movie.
Early in the movie Lilo is rejected by her peers when she asks to play dolls with them, in part because she recently bit one of them and in part because her doll, Scrump, looks very different, and much more monstrous, than their own. A homemade collection of canvas, buttons, and bad stitching, the doll is a representation of Lilo's poverty as she lives with a sister who struggles heroically to act as caretaker while only a teenager herself. At first glance it's already a sad scene, one in which we get a glimpse into how living without parents has made Lilo's life among the other girls far harder than she deserves.
However, a closer look at the scene shows something interesting: all of the other girls' dolls look like them. Their dolls aren't just toys or signals of wealth. Just as with so many dolls that young girls play with, these inform their owner's perceptions of themselves, becoming a mirror for everything they believe they are. Suddenly, Scrump's appearance is so much more important, and the scene is downright heartbreaking. Lilo's doll isn't just a display of her poverty. She truly sees herself as somehow different and monstrous when compared to the other young girls on the island. This makes her feelings of loneliness all the more poignant, and her eventual friendship with Stitch all the more meaningful.
It would be easy to brush this off as just some kind of clever trick, a little "easter egg" the artists of the movie inserted to give us all a laugh. But this would be doing a great disservice to the people who make these movies their lives' work, and who truly do put great care and effort into them. Children's movies are just as worth our consideration as "high art" as any oscar winner or high-brow flick, and the little moments of brilliance in them are far more than idle fan service. There is artistry hidden everywhere around us, even in places where we expect least to find it. We just have to take a second look, and see the things we never noticed we noticed.
With excitement and optimism,