Despite all the crazy things that happen when aliens land on Kauai, there are many sad reasons why Lilo & Stitch is a comedy-drama movie.
"I hear you cry at night. Do you dream about them?"
- Not even fifteen minutes into the movie, Lilo's first scenes have her being rejected by the other girls (because she beat up Mertle). After hula class, she tries to make up with them and shows them her "doll", Scrump, only for them to disappear before she's even finished talking. The somber music sets in as she throws Scrump on the ground and walks away, only to come back and embrace it sadly before heading for home.
- It is made worse when Lilo ends up barricading herself inside the house, and just lies down listening to music. When Nani returns home, she tells her sister to "leave me alone to die". The loss of her parents, combined with Mertle's cruelty, drove Lilo to suicide. And she's just six.
- And in another scene, Lilo seeing Mertle and her posse in town and gleefully exclaiming "Hey! It's my friends!", even when it's been explicitly shown that they hate her, and consider her their enemy. Ouch.
- The Bed Time Story deleted scene is pretty upsetting. Lilo tells a story about a bear named Toaster, which makes Nani have a "That's Lilo" reaction, but it gets heartbreaking because he smells so bad that his only friends are rocks and fish, then a princess promises to bring him some special soap, but she lives far away and the soap hasn't arrived yet.
Lilo: He's so sorry he smells bad.
- Cobra Bubbles seems a lot less funny when he comes to take Lilo away. Even worse is Nani's slow, horrible realization that she can't stop him, and Lilo's total incomprehension of what's going on. That and the fact that Bubbles truly seems sorry for what he has to do and does genuinely care about Lilo's well-being.
- The growing desperation in Nanis voice as she begs him not to take Lilo, along with the look on Lilos face as she overhears it and slowly realizes whats happening, is just as gut wrenching.
Nani: Please... dont do this...
Cobra Bubbles: You know I have no choice.
Nani: NO! Youre not taking her! Im the only one who understands her! You take that away, she wont stand a chance!
Cobra Bubbles: Youre making this harder than it needs to be...
Nani: But you dont know what youre doing! She needs me!
Cobra Bubbles: (motions to the burning wreckage that was once Nani and Lilos house) IS THIS WHAT SHE NEEDS?! It seems clear to me that you need her a lot more than she needs you.
- Later on, when Lilo is kidnapped by Gantu. And just before that, Nani happens upon Jumba and Pleakley arresting Stitch, and asks them about her little sister. When they start playing dumb, she reaches her wit's end and explodes in the most heartbreakingly-frustrated voice:
Nani: LILO! She's a little girl this big, she has black hair and brown eyes and she hangs around with that THING!
- When Jumba and Pleakley still refuse to help, Nani crumples to the ground sobbing, truly believing she'll never see her baby sister again.
- As pictured above, after he runs off into the forest with The Ugly Duckling:
Stitch: I'm lost.
- "Lost" translates into Hawaiian as "Lilo". In a way, it's almost like he's calling out for her.
- It gets worse when you consider the implication that he's emulating the story in the hope that his family will come and find him, like how it ends.
- Also, the conversation that ensues when Jumba finds him the next morning.
- In a nutshell, the conversation is this: when Jumba beckons Stitch to come close, Stitch simply tells Jumba he's waiting. When Jumba asks for what, he looks down and sees the story of The Ugly Duckling underfoot, and is able to connect that Stitch is waiting for his family to come and find him. Jumba replies that Stitch has no family; he made Stitch. Jumba tells Stitch that no matter how hard he tries, he's built to destroy, Stitch can never belong in a family.
- David tells Stitch he thought Nani and Lilo had a chance to stay together, but then he came along and is the reason Nani and Lilo don't have a chance.
- The part where she sees Stitch looking at her family photo again—not because he wants to destroy it, but because he's curious. She then asks where his family is, and says she hears Stitch crying at night, and knows it's the reason he breaks things and pushes her. Stitch's tense expression as he clutches a pillow with his claws just sells it. She starts by delivering this line completely out of left field:
Lilo: I hear you cry at night. Do you dream about them?
Our family is little now and we don't have many toys... but you can be a part of it. You can be our baby and we'll raise you to be good. But if you want to leave... you can. I'll remember you though. I remember everyone who leaves
- It's not even just the first thing she says, but the matter-of-fact way she says it. This girl is 6 years old and has dealt with so much loss that it's become almost a normal occurrence to her.
- The exchange between Lilo and Stitch when Stitch comes to save Lilo after she is taken by Gantu. Lilo, still trapped in the pod, pleads with Stitch not to leave her, and Stitch sounds so heartbroken when he whimpers, "Okay." And then, when he spots the gasoline truck approaching, he repeats it in a much more determined tone.
- When Nani and Lilo sit in a hammock in the backyard; Nani is looking for a way to possibly tell Lilo goodbye without alarming her or making it seem like they'll be forever separated, but Nani can't articulate the message through all her pain and sadness. So she sings the most beautiful, depressing rendition of "Aloha 'Oe" and...
- In the beginning when Nani and Lilo are making up after their fight, when Lilo says "I like you better as a sister than a mom," then starts to cry and asks, "And you like me better as a sister than a rabbit, right?" It was so perfect because it's SO what a little kid would say — not very articulate, not even making much sense, just so terrified that her sister really doesn't want her.
- Any of the strong Nani and Lilo scenes (especially the backyard scene) are tearjerkers for someone with an older or younger sister
- Any time 'ohana is mentioned.
Lilo: You came back.
Stitch: Nobody gets left behind.
- "This is my family. I found it, all on my own. It's little, and broken, but still good. Yeah. Still good."
- Pleakley is moved by this scene so much that he glumly asks if they couldn't just let Stitch stay. It's the sad tone in his voice that makes the moment.
- And Stitch going over to the sisters to say goodbye and his body language as he just wilts into their grasp to say goodbye. And then he just pulls himself together and stoically marches towards the ship and his exile on the desert asteroid. That's one brave little genetic experiment.
- Stitch's quote can be interpreted as his way of apologizing to this family for all the hell he's put them through during his time with them. So by saying 'goodbye' he's using his last chance (he thinks) to make sure they know that he's sorry for his behavior and to tell them in his own way that he truly loves them.
- This deleted scene, featuring the death of Pudge the fish. Thank Disney that the suits actually vetoed the scene.
Lilo: What's wrong with you?!
(Stitch looks guilty and confused.)
Lilo: Pudge was part of our family! You don't let your family die! You don't EVER!
- Lilo wishing on what she believes to be a falling star for a friend. The look on Nani's face as she overhears the wish says it all.
- And the way she says 'It's me again.' Wishing on anything she can find for a friend is probably a common occurrence for her.
- When Lilo explains what happened to her parents to Stitch: "It was rainy, and they went for a drive."
- When Lilo's teacher asks her why it is so important that she bring Pudge the fish a sandwich, she says that he "controls the weather". Given that her parents died in a car crash on a stormy night, she is clearly trying to "appease" what she believes is the spirit that killed her parents so that no more of her family will die. The looks on the adults' faces when they realize that make this even more heartbreaking.
- A scary thought: What if Lilo believing Pudge was in control of the weather was a more recent development? What if Pudge was originally nothing more than a de facto pet she'd been feeding sandwiches until then? What if the day her parents died were the one day she forgot or was too busy to feed Pudge? This could mean that she sees her parents' death as her own fault for forgetting to feed Pudge.
- Then we come to understand why she reacted quite violently when Mertle called her crazy. She took it pretty personally.
- What's worse is that it's only later in the movie that we learn how Lilo's parents died.
- After Cobra Bubbles tells Nani he really has no other choice but to take Lilo away for her own good.
David: You know, I really believe they had a chance [to remain together]. Then you came along.
- This was followed by Stitch's slow realization of what he just did. Ugh... It's so gut-wrenching.
- Wanna make this even more upsetting? It's assumed he was talking about Stitch, but what if he was talking about himself? He didn't look at Stitch or show any signs of acknowledgement towards him and the idea of going surfing in the first place was his idea. Was he taking out his pain on himself?
- Stitch's confession of being an alien is one for both him and Lilo. For Lilo, she was very forgiving of Stitch despite his shenanigans, but after nearly drowning and then having her house destroyed, and being taken away from her sister, she finally loses it and tells Stitch that he has ruined everything. After his confession, she's surprised, but then suddenly shoves him away from her and tells him to go away, not with shock, but with bitterness. For Stitch, he had honestly grew fond of Lilo and has done everything he could to protect her, but in the end, his remorseful expression after he changes back to his alien form, really hits you hard with how he knows that he has let down the girl who had adopted him and cared for him, and her shoving him and telling him to leave really hurts as well knowing that he has been abandoned by the only being who has ever genuinely loved him.
- Earlier on, after Stitch has torn up the room as he does, Jumba muses that now there's nothing left for him to destroy. Since he never built Stitch for anything else, there was nothing left for him.
- "What must it be like, to have nothing? Not even memories to visit, in the middle of the night..."
- The Yank the Dog's Chain moment from Nani's perspective. The very morning the social services are supposed to come to take Lilo away from her, she actually manages to find a new job, which means she'll be able to care for her sister and so prove she can be trusted as her legal caretaker. And then she sees a fireman truck, sirens blazing, rushing to an emergency...
Nani (very, very concerned): Oh, dont turn left...
(Fire truck does just that.)
- Fridge Tearjerking, mixed with Heartwarming; take another look at any scene taking place in Nani's room. She has surfing posters, several surfboards and even medals and trophies, presumably belonging to her. Nani could have been a professional surfer, maybe even a champion... and she gave it all up for Lilo's sake.
- After overhearing Lilo wish for a friend, Nani takes her to an animal shelter, in the hopes that a pet would alleviate some of Lilo's loneliness. When talking to an employee at the shelter about what kind of pets they have, Nani specifically asks for something that won't die.