‘Lilo & Stitch’ Director Is ‘Frustrated’ With ‘Frozen’ Relationship Reactions

Lilo & Stitch and Frozen both touched audiences around the world thanks to their relatable characters. However, their similarities didn’t end there. Lilo & Stitch director Chris Sanders was a bit annoyed with the reactions to Frozen because of how they spoke about the relationship dynamic between the main characters.

‘Lilo & Stitch’ has a relatable nature

'Lilo & Stitch' Stitch (voiced by Chris Sanders), Nani (voiced by Tia Carrere), and Lilo (voiced by Daveigh Chase) riding on a surfboard together and smiling.
L-R: Stitch (voiced by Chris Sanders), Nani (voiced by Tia Carrere), and Lilo (voiced by Daveigh Chase) | Disney

The New York Times recently interviewed Sanders to mark the 20th anniversary of Lilo & Stitch. He discussed how Disney evolved over the years from Lilo & Stitch to Moana and Frozen. Sanders recalled the times when fans and critics both couldn’t stop talking about how they related to the movie on a personal level. He specifically pointed to Lilo’s misunderstood nature, but it didn’t stop there. Fans also admired Nani’s determination and how it fed into the film’s narrative.

“When the film came out, that’s what a lot of critics talked about,” Sanders 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.”

This is the iconic mark of many Disney movies. As a result, the company is the biggest player in animated motion pictures.

‘Lilo & Stitch’ director Chris Sanders had ‘frustrations’ with audience reactions to ‘Frozen’

Sanders is truly proud of Lilo & Stitch, but he could also admire other Disney projects, such as Frozen. However, he also noted that Disney audiences aren’t always remembering what came before. In the case of Frozen, many moviegoing audiences praised the movie for the sisterhood between Elsa (voiced by Idina Menzel) and Anna (voiced by Kristen Bell) standing apart from the crowd. However, Lilo & Stitch did it long before Frozen.

“To be clear, I think Frozen’s great,” Sanders said. “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.'”

Meanwhile, Lilo & Stitch displayed a beautiful relationship between Nani (voiced by Tia Carrere) and her younger sister, Lilo (voiced by Daveigh Chase).

Modern Disney audiences are paying closer attention to on-screen relationships

Beyond Lilo & Stitch and Frozen, Disney audiences love to see how relatable connections translate to their animated movies. The Disney princesses once relied on romantic relationships with princes to drive their narratives. However, romantic and non-romantic relationships continue to show more depth over the course of the Disney universe.

Most recently, Lightyear showed a relationship between Commander Alisha Hawthorne (voiced by Uzo Aduba) and her loving wife. The same-sex kiss raised concerns among conservative circles, but many folks around the world embraced the movie’s natural display of LGBTQ inclusion.

Disney audiences will continue to notice how relationships are depicted on the silver screen. Audiences like to see themselves represented in on-screen narratives and it’s only the beginning.

RELATED: Disney Had a ‘Handsome Men’ Meeting to Determine Flynn Rider’s Appearance in ‘Tangled’