Magical house. Magical family.
Encanto is a 2021 animated musical fantasy comedy film directed by Byron Howard and Jared Bush, written by Jared Bush and Charise Castro Smith, produced by Walt Disney Pictures and Walt Disney Animation Studios, and distributed by Walt Disney Studious Motion Pictures. It stars Stephanie Beatriz and John Leguizamo. It was nominated for and won Best Animated Feature, while it was just nominated for Best Original Score and Best Original Song.
"The magic is in danger." -Bruno Madrigal
Years ago, the Madrigal family was blessed with a miracle when a magical candle granted them an enchanted house and wondrous gifts. Now, Abuela Madrigal has built upon that miracle and created a paradise. Everyone in the Madrigal family has special gifts...except for granddaughter Mirabel. When the magical candle starts fading, Mirabel sets out to prove herself to her family by saving the magic.
There's a little magic in all of us...almost all of us.
Easily the best thing about Disney's Encanto is the light-hearted tone. While this movie can be sad at times and make you feel sympathetic for the main character, the first half of this movie and the last twenty minutes are just incredibly happy. It's a feel-good movie. And, with the last year and a half being what it was, feel-good movies have become something special.
And Mirabel Madrigal is a great protagonist. She's incredibly relatable. She makes you ponder the question: How would you feel if you were the only one in your family without superpowers? That is a great concept for a movie and a character. Her reactions to this unfortunate situation are genuine, and you feel for her, because she's stuck in this really awful scenario where all of her family has these incredible superpowers, but she's just normal.
And because Mirabel isn't special, this movie has a growing theme throughout it about being special and proving yourself to your family. While that theme is never really front and center during the film, it pays off so well in the third act. Obviously I can't say what happens, but if you watch the movie, you will understand.
I really dug the songs in this movie. There's definitely one or two songs that will probably become classic Disney songs. Lin-Manuel Miranda is always great when it comes to music, from Hamilton to Moana to Encanto. The songs all fit with the Colombian culture that this film uses, and they are all extremely catchy. The visuals that accompany the songs are also some of the best since Moana, and before that, Aladdin.
This film also has a good amount of emotion near the end. Family stories will always have a heartfelt element, but Encanto really brings that into the spotlight in the final act. In the final twenty minutes, there is a flurry of moments that will pull at your heartstrings. Some people will definitely have the waterworks flowing by the time the credits roll.
While Encanto was a very fun fantastical adventure, it was relatively predictable. Earlier this year, Raya and the Last Dragon came out. That movie was not predictable. It was a very complex film that offered stuff for both kids as well as adults. The entertainment value here will be for everyone, but there isn't really a mature undertone in Encanto. There aren't moral dilemmas and anti-heroic characters. Encanto is a much more shallow and tame Disney story, and you kind of know what's going to happen from the get-go. For me, that was unfortunate. I really, really like it when Disney is able to appeal to both mature as well as younger audiences. And I think Encanto is a much more kid-centric film.
And, strangely enough, the voice acting in this movie was not top-notch at all. Since Robin Williams appeared as the Genie in Aladdin, A-list movie stars would voice characters in Disney movies, whether it was Tom Hanks as Woody or Idina Menzel and Kristen Bell as Anna and Elsa or John C. Reilly as Wreck-It-Ralph, Disney has been really good with casting in the last thirty years. But Encanto is full of no-name, generic voice actors that aren't particularly good. There was some very inconsistent acting across the board. I thought the woman who played Mirabel was good. But my two biggest issues were the woman who played Luisa and the guy who played Bruno. They were just odd and pulled you out of the movie whenever they talked or sang.
Because the movie wants to make you sympathize with Mirabel, they make her family really unlikable. Most of her family members act superior to her and bully her. With the exception of a few characters, most of the family was insufferable. Now, near the end, when the conflict was resolved and the family was okay, they were all likable. But, for the duration of the movie, our supporting cast of characters were filled out with unlikable, selfish, and outright nasty Madrigal family members...that are meant to be heroes.
Finally, Encanto has a lot of things happen in it that just feel like they are in the movie to move the plot forward. They are never explained. Mirabel not getting her powers is shown, but it's never explained why she didn't get her powers. The resolution to the conflict feels rushed and, once again, under explained. It's frustrating because this is on the verge of top tier Disney, but doesn't quite reach that level, because of a few things that could've been fixed with a few more tweaks to the script.
Should you go see Encanto?
Yeah. Go see it with your family. It will be a fun night out. This is a good movie that I think no one can really dislike. It's charming, entertaining, and sweet. Maybe not one of Disney's best, but still a very solid film.
Disney's Encanto is a fun, enchanting musical that everyone will enjoy. It may not be the most memorable or complex of Disney's long history of movies, but as the 60th Disney animated feature, this movie works just fine.
I'm going Savory here. Age range is 5+.
SWEET N' SOUR SCALE
Sweet (Great) Savory (Good)
Fun Factor: 8/10
Directed by Byron Howard and Jared Bush
Rated PG for animated action, some frightening scenes, thematic elements
Released on November 24, 2021
1 hour and 39 minutes
Stephanie Beatriz as Mirabel Madrigal John Leguizamo as Bruno Madrigal
María Cecilia Botero as Abuela Alma Madrigal
Diane Guerrero as Isabela Madrigal
Jessica Darrow as Luisa Madrigal
Angie Cepeda as Julieta Madrigal
Rhenzy Feliz as Camilo Madrigal
Ravi Cabot-Conyers as Antonio Madrigal
Carolina Gaitan as Pepa Madrigal
Wilmer Valderrama as Agustín Madrigal
Adassa as Dolores Madrigal
Mauro Castillo as Félix Madrigal
Maluma as Mariano