Have you ever rewatched a TV show or movie you loved as a kid? Maybe a stray repeat of Dexter's Lab catches a younger relative's eye while you're flipping through channels, and purely out of nostalgia, you decide to watch it with them. It's fun at first, but then you start asking questions. How the hell did he afford all that lab equipment? Didn't the $35,000 electric bills his experiments must have produced ever cause his parents any concern?
That's when you realize that it's happened: You've become a cynical adult. From that point on, you'll never watch a kids' movie the same way again. I know this to be true because I tried watching a few of my favorite movies from my childhood again recently, and a lot of them left me with just one thought: The "heroes" I used to admire in my favorite movies were actually total assholes. Here are a few examples.
4Lilo & Stitch
To Kids: Stitch, or "Experiment 626," was created in a lab by a scientist who wants to use him for evil or something. He escapes and crash-lands on Earth, becomes best friends with a little girl named Lilo, and forms the Hawaiian word for "family" with her. Meanwhile, an evil Child Protective Services agent is trying to break them up.
To Adults: There's nothing evil about that CPS worker at all. If he seems hellbent on tearing them apart, it's only because Lilo is being raised in an awful environment and rescuing her from it is his damn job. She's in the care of her older sister Nani because, as in every Disney movie, their parents are dead. It's understandable that the two might struggle to keep things together after that -- and they do struggle indeed, but a lot of it has to do with Nani just being downright negligent and irresponsible.
Early in the movie, Lilo is left to fend for herself and find her own way to hula class.
Mandatory for all Hawaiian children.
Sis couldn't set up a carpool with one of the other kid's moms or something? Even worse, she's late picking Lilo up afterward, and the teacher tells the kid, who can't be more than six years old, to just wait on the steps until someone shows up. What if no one is showing up, lady? Maybe there's been an accident! Sometimes it seems like the CPS worker is the only one who actually cares if Lilo lives or dies.
That seems even more true when, naturally, Lilo doesn't wait on the steps and instead decides to walk. Luckily, she makes it home safe, at which point we get a look at the house she lives in, and boy is it a shithole. Clothes everywhere, the kitchen is gross, the stove is on for some reason, you name it. Even worse, it's a shithole Lilo is all alone in, because her "guardian" is still nowhere to be found.
Would it kill the kid to maybe throw a load or two in the washer?
Why am I supposed to feel sorry for Nani again? A child is clearly in danger here. Things get even shadier when Nani and the CPS agent arrive at the home right around the same time. Of course he sees all the chaos, and the movie for some reason makes him the bad guy for it. That's his job! Parents have lost their kids for way less than what was going on inside that house. Oh, and we find out that Nani knew about the visit ahead of time. So maybe keep the kid home and tag team cleaning the house like a responsible guardian? Despite all this, they get another chance, and Lilo stays with Nani.
Days later, Lilo goes to get a puppy, because why not add a dog to the equation when you already can't manage a child? That puppy turns out to be Stitch, who ended up at a dog shelter after landing in Hawaii.
"Won't you help this disgusting freak of science find a forever home?"
Stitch, to put it bluntly, is a total damn menace. After settling in with Lilo, he's immediately spotted by the alien scientists who've been sent to our planet to recover him, and uses his new "friend" as a goddamn human shield so they can't track him. Once they get home, he destroys her toys. He makes a huge mess everywhere he goes, like that time he tears shit up at the local market. Someone's gotta clean that up, man.
The awful choices keep coming when Nani decides to bring her and Stitch to work. They destroy the place, of course, because Stitch is a shitty lab monster who destroys everything he touches.
Including struggling families.
Nani gets fired. The movie wants me to feel bad for her. I guess I sort of do, but also, damn, find a babysitter. As one does when they've lost their job, Nani decides to take the family surfing. As if surfing isn't already dangerous enough for a six-year-old, Lilo almost drowns when Stitch pulls her underwater to once again evade his would-be captors. Somehow, the CPS agent sees all of this and still lets them stay together.
Nani promptly leaves Lilo home alone again, this time to go see about a job. At least that detail involves a glimmer of responsibility. Leaving her home alone with the space animal that almost killed her does not. Sure enough, the alien scientists show up, and things get so out of hand that the house is literally blown up.
Lilo narrowly escapes death because the CPS agent shows up and rescues her. All of this because Nani was too irresponsible to realize they were in no position to own a pet. It's tragic, really.
To Kids: What's better than a snow day? Two snow days. That's what the kids in the appropriately-titled Snow Day want. Too bad the "evil" snow plow guy wants to ruin it for them by plowing the streets. No! Stop him!
To Adults: If you live in a place where it sometimes snows heavily, the guy who operates the plow is always the hero. He clears the streets so we can get to adult stuff like work, doctors appointments, and whatever place you drop your kids off to get away from them when the sun is out. Snow days make an adult's life chaos. Kids who love their parents wouldn't want it this way.
Also, I feel sympathy for the plow guy, if for no other reason than that the movie points out that it was an unusually warm winter. If he's a contractor ...
... that means he probably hasn't had work for weeks. We never hear about his family, but we do know that he's got himself and that creepy pet crow he hauls around everywhere to feed. As a former kid myself, I understand the desire for an extra day off from school, but watching this movie through the lens I look at the world with now, the kids definitely seem like the bad guys here.
Speaking of which, can we take a quick sidebar to talk about Hal? He's the older teenage brother in the scheme, but instead of helping bring on another day off, he just spends his break stalking a girl he has a crush on. And I do mean stalking. At one point, he says he knows how many times she blinks before she jumps off a diving board.
He finds an ankle bracelet she dropped at the pool, and instead of returning it to her, he sniffs it while alone in his room at night. Later, he jumps in front of a news camera because he knows it's the channel she watches at that exact time each day. This isn't cute teenage behavior, like finding out what party she's at and crashing it. No, this kid has problems that will be big trouble for someone some day. We never hear what becomes of these issues, though, because everyone's too busy plotting to "unplow" the streets in an attempt to thwart their civil servant nemesis.
Wait, what? How are they going to unplow the streets? By kidnapping the plow guy, of course.
The face of a man who thinks he's going to die tonight.
Man, it's the dead of winter and you're just going to leave him chained to a pole while you go commit minor acts of domestic terrorism in your own hometown? If the hypothermia doesn't kill him, he's at least losing a few fingers. Maybe he'll lose them all. Maybe it will mean he can't drive anymore. Nice. Enjoy your snow day, you little monsters.