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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Family ties can be formed under the most strained and difficult situations and can unite even angry, desperate, and otherwise abandoned people (and creatures). Trauma and grief, as well as resilience, are at the center of this film. A close, loving family is a source of great strength, and caring about others is a way to experience true happiness.
Positive Role Models
Lilo and her sister Nani are portrayed as strong and resilient, as well as capable of great mischief. Key characters, including Lilo, learn to channel aggression and anger in productive ways.
Lilo and her sister Nani are both Native Hawaiians. Nani and David are both voiced by Hawaiian actors -- Tia Carrere, who is multiracial, and Jason Scott Lee, who has Native Hawaiian ancestry -- who helped shape the script to better reflect their experiences. Unlike many young female cartoon characters, Nani is drawn with a healthy body weight and proportions. The only Black character, social worker Cobra Bubbles, is slightly villainized: Concerned about Nani's ability to care for her sister, he threatens to remove Lilo from her custody. A non-traditional family unit eventually proves to be safe, secure, and loving.
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Violence & Scariness
Lots of non-lethal cartoon action. On a distant planet, aliens/monsters are always ready to do battle: There are explosions, falls, armed conflict in space, shooting with lasers, stabbing with a needle, creatures held in glass cages, and an unintentional capture and imprisonment of a little girl. On Earth, a child punches and bites a classmate (but apologizes immediately after), a house blows up and falls apart, there's gunfire (by alien lasers), characters are dragged underwater, and there are frequent appearances by a destructive little monster with gnashing teeth and vicious behavior. The main characters' parents died in a car accident (a fact that is referenced once).
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
David, Nani's coworker, is smitten with Nani and asks her out a few times. He's respectful and supportive of their friendship when she says no, even though she's also interested in him.
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"Butt" is used, along with the angry gibberish Stitch uses as a stand-in for cursing.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that some action elements of Lilo & Stitch (including laser battles, gunfire, characters being captured and held hostage, and explosions) -- as well as the more bizarre-looking monsters -- could be scary for young kids. Stitch (voiced by Chris Sanders), a small but powerful intergalactic creature, is destructive and angry; he bares his sharp teeth and angry attitude frequently, causing chaos and mayhem wherever he goes. As in many Disney stories, Lilo (Daveigh Chase) and her sister Nani (Tia Carrere) are orphans, grieving and struggling to adapt to life without their parents, though the circumstance of their parents' death (a car accident) is referenced only once. In a break from Disney tradition, there are no unredeemable villains: everyone ultimately learns important life lessons, including the heroes, who are far from perfect when the movie begins. Characters demonstrate compassion, courage, and perseverance. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
A cute story, endearing characters, a sensational soundtrack of Elvis classics, and glorious hand-painted animation make this Disney film a winner. At its heart, Lilo & Stitch is just an old-fashioned story of a child and a pet. But this isn't the usual movie child, and it's definitely not the usual pet. The Hawaiian location and gorgeous visuals give it a fresh feeling. And instead of the usual waifish Disney heroine who's waiting to be saved, there's Nani, Lilo's older sister, who's struggling to grow up quickly so that she can care for Lilo the way her parents did.
Lilo is irresistibly adorable, and her relationship with her sister is a believable mixture of affection, resentment, and connection. Both are deeply affected by the loss of their parents, and their behavior and how they treat the people around them reflects the trauma and grief they're enduring. Ving Rhames adds just the right note of wry authority to his role as Cobra Bubbles, the social worker with a surprising past, and Jason Scott Lee is fine as Nani's friend who would like to be more.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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Our Editors Recommend
Movies with Strong Female Characters
Positive Role Model TV for Girls
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate