Imagine coming from a family, all of whom are special and imbued with magical abilities from healing, controlling the weather to shapeshifting and so much more…and then imagine, being the only one who isn’t.
That is the story of Mirabel Madrigal (Stephanie Beatriz) in Disney’s latest animated film, Encanto, but in reality, it can be any of us, surrounded by family or peers who we believe are more successful, capable or special, compared to being just an ordinary person.
The Madrigals are an extraordinary family who live in the hidden mountains of Colombia, in a charmed place called the Encanto. The magic of the Encanto, believed to come from a candle that never dies out, has blessed every child in the family with a unique gift. With their powers, the Madrigals help to build and keep an entire community up and running. From constructing houses and bridges, beautifying common spaces with gorgeous flora and healing townsfolk with nice and warm food, the Madrigals are beloved, even Mirabel.
As the only Madrigal without a special gift, Mirabel tries her best to be useful and keeps a bubbly personality whenever folks ask her what her powers are. She may not be gifted, but Mirabel has her own talents like sewing, being an attentive and loving family member and has a knack at getting into trouble even when she has the greatest intentions.
Everything seems fine and dandy at Encanto and the Madrigal home, Casita, until the night of Antonio Madrigal’s (Ravi Cabot-Conyers) event where he receives his special gift. Amidst the party and celebration, Mirabel notices that Casita is acting strange. With cracks forming in the walls, and the special candle flickering, Mirabel believes that something bad is going to happen to the family.
Of course, no one believes her until one by one, they start losing their powers. Seeing this as an opportunity to prove that she’s useful, Mirabel takes it upon herself to save the magic.
But, how do you save the magic? Well, that’s part of the journey.
Throughout the movie, the audience learns more and more about the Madrigal family members alongside Mirabel. How their seemingly perfect and flawless appearance actually hides numerous insecurities and desires to experience more than what they believe they’re meant to do.
With such a big and talented family, even the most gifted and loved Madrigal feels pressured and Mirabel teaches them that just like her, they can be free too. One by one, Mirabel brings them out of their shell and helps them to repair relationships between family members, or within themselves. And in classic Disney style, this is almost always done through songs.
Oh boy, there is a lot of singing in Encanto, and yes it is 100% welcomed, especially since they’re composed by the talented Lin Manuel Miranda of Hamilton fame. If you’ve seen the various trailers for this film, there hasn’t been any indicators that this was a musical, and combining everything, Encanto has all the traits of a classic Disney movie that makes the film enjoyable and well-loved even generations after. Such traits being: a valuable lesson to be learnt, beautiful visuals and catchy songs.
Encanto is focused on being true to oneself and generational healing. Although it sounds heavy, it really isn’t. The movie is a kaleidoscope of colours and patterns that one probably hasn’t seen since the studio’s Coco. Warm hues, bright colours and flowers fill almost every scene, making it incredibly enjoyable to watch. Accompanied by catchy tunes with smart lyrics – We Don’t Talk About Bruno – as a popular favourite, it’s easy to be enchanted by Encanto.
Disney has been known to release numerous heartwarming animated films, most recently being Ron’s Gone Wrong and Luca, but none of which were musicals. Encanto is Disney’s first proper musical animated film in a long time and it’s celebration of all things magical, is truly what we audiences need after a depressing year in a pandemic.
With familiar voices behind the characters, notably Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s Beatriz as Mirabel and Doom Patrol’s Diane Guerrero as Isabel, Encanto is the right mix of entertaining and comforting. Especially with Beatriz’s Mirabel delivering some of the funniest and wittiest jokes and comments as she embarks on her heroine journey.
But as enchanting as it is, Encanto isn’t without some flaws.
Yes, animated Disney films aren’t supposed to be realistic or make the most sense but a magical house with personality? Powers gifted to you when you reach a certain age? Heck, a candle flame that won’t turn off – not even with rain? Now, that’s just impossible. But, hey, it’s a Disney movie about magic, so we roll with it!
With the magic leaving in the first place and returning all pointed towards Mirabel, there’s very little reasoning or explanation as to why she was the chosen one in the first place. And at the end of the movie, you still don’t get why, again, she wasn’t gifted with powers as compared to her other family members too.
Encanto is a moving movie, with much to love about it from it’s beautiful animation, good music, an enjoyable main character you can’t help but root for and an exciting journey ahead, but ends with a rather flat reveal that feels rushed and as if done without much thinking. Although it ends in a rather disenchanting way, it still doesn’t fully negate the joyous and magical journey viewers are taken on up to that point.
In all, Encanto is the Disney musical film fans have been missing over the past couple of years. With beautiful visuals, catchy tunes and an overall message about family, viewers are bound to leave the movie absolutely enchanted.
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
A moving, magical and musically entertaining movie about family, Encanto will have viewers leaving the theatres enchanted.
Story - 7/10
Direction - 9/10
Characterisation - 9/10
Geek Satisfaction - 9/10