Encanto; Grade: B+
Encanto tells a story about a place where it features a magical living house, a magical candle passed down many decades granting blessings for one particular family. The blessing includes each family member given a special unique power behind their own door. One family member by the name of Mirabel (Stephanie Beatriz) was hoping to secure her own magical power on her special night, unfortunately she did not as she’s the only family member not given a magical power. Still Mirabel loves her family to death despite not having a power, as she’s very prideful of being apart of the family despite she gets treated differently from the rest. One night while a new family member has been blessed with a new power, Mirabel notices that the house was partially breaking, as the magic was hindering on the sacred candle for a bit. Mirabel believes that the magic within the house is slowly dying, as Mirabel wants to help save the magic with everything along with it.
For a Disney animation film, I would say Encanto differs from what we’ve gotten in the past from Disney. Of course there is magic within the film, however from a narrative perspective, it doesn’t follow the typical formula of what we’re used to seeing a big bad antagonist trying to conquer the magic and use it all on themselves type of ordeal. This film goes into a much more matured and really personal message about family, that I believe many people are going to relate to what is going on with Mirabel and maybe some that is going on with Abuela (Maria Cecilia Botero). At first I believed Encanto was going to be another obnoxious musical, but it turns out to be one of the better films I’ve seen all year round, that progresses over the course of the run time.
Encanto is a very well written story, that truly digs deep into the family perspective. Whether it be being under appreciated because you don’t fit the family norm despite you love and honor your family through and through, saying one is about family when they treat one poorly, or having an issue with a family member due to selfishness and not being aware of the true reveal of the conflict to begin with. Take Mirabel for example: She loves her family deeply, heck she sang a whole freaking song honoring each and every family member. But because Mirabel doesn’t have a magical power: She’s looked down on, especially by her Abuela. I believe there are many of us whom felt were under appreciated or feel like our existence didn’t matter to our family because we weren’t like the rest of the family, it normally happens and that feeling is awful, especially when we’re all about loving our family. It’s a very draining process and sometimes a process is which we come to abandoned our family completely because what’s the point, if no matter what we do we’ll never be good enough?!
Look at Abuela: She’s the head of the household, whom brought her family from the ground up. Abuela has made many claims that family is everything to her, she’s all about family and repeatedly talks about family traditions and blessings and such. Yet when she looks at Mirabel: All she does is treat her like absolute garbage. There has been many times when a family member claims they’re all about family, yet because one doesn’t fit the status quo they want from them given the high expectations they set for them… The exception of loving that one particular family member is out the door completely, as their given an excuse to treat them like they don’t matter at all, no matter how much you give to the family. Within this film: The film teaches us that people like Abuela do not hate us in general, it’s more so they got other problems that haven’t taken care of themselves on their own. Often times human beings take their frustrations, insecurity, and problems out on those they love, especially when that someone they love is different… It’s a common problem in everyday society, as this film teaches us that we shouldn’t take it to heart, that we should try to handle it face on and not coward away from the problem or keep getting punched by them like we’re a punching bag. Stand up for yourself and try to execute a solution to where both parties come to an understanding and make way for a better future.
There is an unexpected conflict between Mirabel and her sister Isabela (Diane Guerrero) that comes out of the blue, that really felt nonexistent especially to Mirabel whom was surprised a vision requested her to make up with Isabela. Though Mirabel does have a disliking for Isabela, there is confusion as to why that is, as well as why Isabela mistreats Mirabel. There are times in which we never knew we had any feud at all with our family members, as those are really good at keeping those feuds hidden. Sometimes we just believe one doesn’t like us just because they don’t like us and nothing more, as we never think it was a feud to begin. The film suggests we question the family member for their disliking, as chances are there could be a reason behind that goes far beyond than just them in general, it could be in an act of jealously or handling high expectations the other family member doesn’t have as they have low expectations. Believe it or not: Family members do tend to grow envy when one is treated better or treated with lower expectations than the other, sometimes the feud is not towards that party at all, it’s really a feud from their own self esteem. I’m really surprised this film has taken on many themes in which is family based, as I’m very impressed by how accurate and relatable these all are especially in my own family… I felt this film was speaking directly at me, like it was some kind of therapy session.
What I also enjoyed about the film is it slowly becomes better and better and better over the course of time. Often times we don’t really get many films where it takes it’s time to progress within each act, as when the bigger picture is revealed on the true meaning of the entire story… It becomes a much better film in which you grow a great attachment to it, in which you didn’t think highly of before. I really enjoyed the characters at play here, I believe Mirabel is my favorite one as I really enjoyed her high energy and loved how dedicated she is to her own family.
Honestly I was pretty afraid of the musical portion of this film in the beginning, as I thought it was bound to become another overly obnoxious musical that was bound to make my ears bleed to death… Not to mention Lin Manuel Miranda was attached to this, so of course I had my doubts and was ready to rip it apart. Well what do you know?!? The musical portion wasn’t terrible, it was actually kind of good. The film has a great balance between music and story telling, one never over does the other as it’s a well executed balance, I’ve been requesting this for many years now and Encanto finally delivers on that request. Some of the musical numbers were honestly fun, thoughtful, sweet, and sounded nice, I loved the Spanish musical number in the third act as I believe that’s potentially an Oscar nominated Best Original Song contender. I would say there is one musical number I didn’t like at all and that was the family member that has the power of strength… It was awful, especially how it sounded. There are times within a couple musical numbers that can be a little annoying in terms of the over usage of rhyming, as that is Lin’s style, however it never comes to the point where it wrecks the songs as I’m extremely grateful the music was not wrecked… It’s about damn time Lin Manuel Miranda, it’s about time you gave us something good that isn’t Hamilton for once.
The animation didn’t blow me away really at all, was kind of bummed out as it does feel reminiscent to older Disney properties. I wish more development was given to some characters here and there. Encanto was a pretty impressive watch I must say, was extremely surprised by this one as this will satisfy not only a younger audience but more so an older audience especially.
Overall, Encanto was a great film. I highly recommend watching this film, it’s a def a film worth watching in the theater especially. -Mitch Smietana