It’s been 20 years since Lilo & Stitch was released in cinemas. However, the movie’s co-director recalls feeling frustrated when people claimed 2013’s Frozen was the first Disney movie to prioritize sisterhood over romance.
“To be clear, I think Frozen’s great,” Chris Sanders told The New York Times (opens in new tab). “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.'”
The animated movie follows Lilo (voiced by Daveigh Chase), an eccentric six-year-old girl being raised in Hawaii by her older sister Nani (Tia Carrere) after their parents die in a car crash. Lilo adopts Stitch, the result of an illegal genetic experiment with the ability to cause unending chaos, thinking that he’s a dog. A key theme of the movie is the Hawaiian concept of ‘ohana’, or family.
“When the film came out, that’s what a lot of critics talked about,” producer Clark Spencer said of the movie’s family dynamics. “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.”
Frozen is also a movie about two sisters, Elsa (Idina Menzel) and Anna (Kristen Bell). Released 11 years after Lilo & Stitch, it follows the estranged pair as they reunite and rebuild their childhood bond after Elsa loses control of her magical powers. Unlike Lilo & Stitch, Frozen does have a romantic subplot.