Monday, September 17, 2012

Can Anyone Be a Part of Family? (Lilo & Stitch, 2002)

      #99--  Lilo & Stitch (2002)     

Lilo is, to say the least, a difficult child.  When she first speaks in the film, we find out that she is late to her class because she had to feed Pudge, a fish in the ocean, peanut butter sandwiches and she had to find peanut butter because all they had was tuna and you COULDN’T feed Pudge tuna because that would be cannibalism.  Her logic is impeccable.  It just isn’t shared by anyone else in existence.  Yeah, that’s difficult.

But her difficulty is nothing compared to Stitch, a genetically manipulated creature, formed to destroy whole civilizations by a mad scientist… excuse me… an evil genius.  Stich can escape from any prison, create mayhem and destroy whole cities, but he is stuck on Hawaii because the one thing he can’t abide is water. 

Stitch's part in The Lion King
was left on the cutting room floor.
The question of the movie is can these two social outcast become a part of a family?  The oft-repeated line of the film is “Oahu means family.  In family no one gets left behind or forgotten.”  That’s fine, but can these two be a part of any family?  They think so differently.  They don’t fit any societal norms, and in fact, they rebel against many of them.  Heck, Stitch eats societal norms for breakfast, and downs a city for a midmorning snack!

The wonderful answer of this film is that they cannot be a part of an average family.  But they can be family together.  The outcasts CAN be a part of a family—a family of outcasts.  The final act of the film is the creation of a family of the most awkward band of misfits ever imagined in a single unit. 

I love the basic truth of this film: you cannot take misfits and change them completely to be a part of a standard family.  Instead, you must change the image of family to include misfits.  If you can have a functional family which includes severe dysfunction, then you can have a family of the homeless, a family of the mentally ill, a family of the traumatized, a family of the social awkward, a family of those in rehab.  Because the conformity of the family matters little.  What really matters is that no one gets left behind.  Or forgotten.

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