Lilo and Stitch Live Action Remake: More of the Same?

Lilo and Stitch Live Action Remake: More of the Same?

Tony Walden, Staff

Ever since Alice in Wonderland came out in 2010 and after the release of Maleficent, Disney has been consistently putting out live action remakes of their classic filmography every year.  It’s crazy to think that these types of films have been getting released for a little over ten years now. Even with this new norm people still get surprised with every next movie positioned to get this live action treatment.  On October 3rd, 2018, Disney announced that they were developing a live action adaptation of Lilo and Stitch. The film is set to be released sometime in 2024.

“A Lilo and Stitch remake? I don’t think I’ve heard about that but I did enjoy the original,” says Pat Krawsnoski, an elder resident of Champaign. 

For the unaware it might seem a bit odd that this is now in the public eye, as there isn’t a solid release date for the movie. But to those in the know it is very clear.  Disney had casted Sydney Agudong to play Lilo’s older sister Nani. Controversy rose not from the talent of the actor but the actor’s skin tone, as she is lighter than the character she was casted to play. 

Although she is biracial (Caucasian mother and a father who is half-Filipino and half-Native Hawaiian), she herself is a very white passing person. 

“It really made me mad when I saw the news about who was playing Nani in the remake, it feels like they’re taking an important part of the character away,” says Kaylah Hilton,  a student at Centennial High School.

Arguments came from both sides.  A common one on the side in favor of the casting was the fact that in soon to be released little mermaid remake Ariel was being played by a black actress. The problem with this defense is the fact that Ariel’s skin tone and race is not important to the film itself. The fact that both Nani and Lilo are native Hawaiian and that this is obvious to the viewer along with the people they interact with in the film is crucial to the plot. Another bizarre thing about this situation is that Lilo’s actor (Maia Kealoha) is dark skinned herself.  This is not to say that siblings can’t be different skin tones, that would be objectively wrong, I mention this because it shows that disney was able to cast an actress who looked like Lilo but didn’t do so for Nani. 

Another thing to take note of is Kahiau Machado, an actor casted to play the character David Kawena. Much like Nani, Machado is lighter than the character he was set to play. More controversy rose when with minimal digging into his Spotify and Instagram it was found out he had used the n-word on multiple occasions in the past. Although Disney did quietly recast him with Kaipo Dudoit it shows a lack of care on their part, especially since they still decided to cast an actor who is still lighter than the one they are set to play. 

“I think pretty much all of the Disney remakes are devoid of creativity and only make money off of nostalgia from older people,” says Robin Betka, a student at Central.

Overall, I have little faith in this movie being good, at least the story and compared to the original. I have no doubt that it’ll do well in the box office, as pretty much all Disney movies do, I just know that I won’t be going to see it when it does come out.