‘Lilo & Stitch’ director says he was frustrated by ‘Frozen’ praise and he’s got a point

It seems like everyone still can’t let it go when it comes to Disney’s Frozen. After all, the film was praised for showcasing that “true love” can be achieved through other means beyond romance.

However, not everyone is happy with Disney’s new money-making property as Lilo & Stitch director Chris Sanders is upset over the praise Frozen received.

In an interview with The New York Times, Sanders wished that people took more notice of how Lilo & Stitch adapted the sisterhood story after he noticed that people were praising Frozen for something they did first.

“To be clear, I think ‘Frozen’s’ great. But it was a little bit frustrating for me because people were like, ‘Finally, a nonromantic relationship with these two girls,’ and I thought, ‘We did that! That has absolutely been done before.”

Lilo & Stitch came out in 2002, more than a decade before Frozen’s theatrical release in 2013. The film focuses on Lilo, whose only family member is her older sister Nani after her parents died in a car crash. The two sisters are on the verge of separation as a social worker is concerned that Nani is unable to adequately take care of her sister.

Somewhere in all of that, Lilo befriends a space alien name Stitch, which created a challenge for both Nani and Lilo to prove that they can take care of each other.

Sanders commented on the film’s story, saying that fans were able to relate to the story as it is “based in reality” where people “can see themselves”.

Lilo & Stitch did touch on real-world issues that young audience members might relate to: Nani, forced to become Lilo’s legal guardian after their parents are killed in a car crash, faces parenting struggles. And a social worker always seems to catch Nani and Lilo at their worst….

When the film came out, that’s what a lot of critics talked about,” he said. “Those moments that were based in reality in a way that people could see themselves in, and it didn’t feel like they were cartoon characters.”

Lilo & Stitch turned 20 this year, and despite it being under-looked or forgotten due to other stronger titles such as Moana and Frozen, the film managed to find success on its own while also successfully respecting the Hawaiian culture. It may not be a powerhouse, but it was well-loved by audiences.

About the author


Erielle Sudario

Erielle Sudario is a Digital Producer for We Got This Covered. Outside of work, she's either DM'ing a 'Dungeons and Dragons' campaign, playing video games, or building keyboards. Erielle holds a Bachelor of Communications Degree (specializing in film and journalism) from Western Sydney University and a Graduate Diploma in Radio and Podcasting from the Australian Film, Television, and Radio School.