Disney: ‘Encanto’ Review

Screenshot of Mirabel from ‘Encanto’ now on Disney+. Copyright goes to Walt Disney Animation Studios.

Hey! Hallie here!

‘Encanto’s finally on Disney+! Everyone’s been talking about ‘Encanto’ ever since it hit the streaming platform, as they should, so I figured now would be a great time to get into some spoilers and write a review! There are pros and cons I found in this movie, but if you haven’t seen it, know that ‘Encanto’ is absolutely delightful while still delivering some very powerful and effective messages. In other words, go watch this right now! It’s worth it and there’s no added cost to watch it on Disney+! If you’re still here I hope you’ve seen the movie because there will be SPOILERS ahead.

What I Liked:

The Characters: This movie has a large cast of fun, colorful characters. There are two standouts in particular, however. Mirabel is our powerless main character, making it easy for the audience to sympathize with her. Even beyond considering society’s obsession with superpowers, who hasn’t felt like their accomplishments are inadequate compared to others? But Mirabel is incredibly loving and high-spirited, and of course, just because she doesn’t have powers doesn’t mean she isn’t important. She proves her worth by fighting against inter-generational trauma and inspiring others to be mindful of their own wants and desires despite the pressure placed on them. I also loved that this movie didn’t decide to give her some random hidden powers by the end. It set out to prove that Mirabel was special even without powers, and I’m pleased to see it didn’t backtrack on its major message like movies such as ‘Frozen 2’ did. The other stand out of this movie is Bruno. Bruno is painted by the family as a devious figure who brings misfortune wherever he goes, but the more you listen to the lyrics of “We Don’t Talk About Bruno”, the more you realize he didn’t do anything wrong. Bruno has the gift of telling the future, but whenever he foretold something unfortunate, he was wrongfully blamed for said unfortunate event. When we finally get to meet Bruno in the film, it’s revealed that he never could bring himself to leave his family and his home despite the lonesomeness it brought. It’s hard not to feel devastated once it’s shown that he sits near a wall looking out towards the dining room and has set out his own table and plate so he can eat alongside his family. It’s also revealed that Bruno hid mainly because he saw Mirabel in the midst of potential disaster and didn’t want that information to taint the family’s opinion of Mirabel in the way it had tainted their opinion of him. Bruno’s life is a very sad one, but he’s hilarious and chipper, often resembling a giant puppy. These characters are the glue of the film and easy to fall in love with.

Music: Lin-Manuel Miranda is behind the music for this film and you can definitely hear it. Which isn’t a bad thing! Unlike ‘Moana’, where Lin came into the process later and worked with other artists, Lin was given more creative control here. He took a lot of inspiration from Columbian culture and music, making the soundtrack feel more authentic. But he also added a few twists of his own, like letting Bruno and Dolores rap, as well as adding fun, modern beats that we don’t usually hear in Disney musicals. My favorite songs here were “Surface Pressure” and “We Don’t Talk About Bruno”. “Surface Pressure” is a song sung by Luisa about the pressure she’s put under because she’s one of the older grandchildren in the family and possesses super strength. The song does an excellent job of relating the emotional exhaustion that comes with carrying too many familial burdens, but also the dread of feeling like you’re worthless when you aren’t taking care of said burdens. This song has a more modern sound that makes it unique and addictive. I could seriously listen to it all day. Speaking of, let’s talk about “We Don’t Talk About Bruno”. I can’t stop listening to this one. Each piece each of the family contributes to this song has a slightly different sound to match the story they’re telling. Felix and Pepa give the song it’s main, traditional-sounding melody with the story of their unfortunate wedding in a hurricane. Meanwhile, Dolores hints she knows more than she’s saying with her whispering rap and Camilo teases Mirabel with a playful but haunting verse about how monstrous Bruno is. It’s all really fun, and the way it comes together at the end is so satisfying that hearing it makes me want to return immediately to the film. This soundtrack is no joke.

Representation: I really can’t speak too much on this because I’m a white person, but can we all just agree that seeing so many different people represented on screen felt good? After all the conversations we’ve had about Marvel and Afro-Latine representation, it was so nice to see this movie give us all kinds of Latine individuals, including Afro-Latine characters, without batting an eye. Can we do more of this in the future please?

What I Disliked:

Beginning and Ending: The opening and closing songs of this movie fell flat for me. The opening song gives us a quick introduction to the family, which is necessary. But it also doesn’t seem to know how to fit in all this exposition into the actual story. What results is the only fourth-wall breaking song in the film, where the movie tries to make it seem like Mirabel is talking about her family to a group of children while it’s pretty obvious that she’s explaining all of this information to the audience. I mean, she looks directly at the camera and travels around her house without any of these kids actually with her. It’s all a bit too in-your-face and it made me wish that we had been introduced to the family in a cleaner manner. Especially because all of the information is a lot to pack into just one song. Something similar happens at the end of the film, but even more extreme. After Mirabel and Abuela return to the destroyed house and Bruno is revealed to the rest of the family, we get one final song that attempts to wrap up literally everything in the story. Bruno’s actual intentions, the rebuilding of the house, Dolores’ new relationship, everyone embracing their powers, and Mirabel’s newfound place in her family. It’s too much told too fast, and it winds up feeling a bit sloppy. I really think they needed to space out the information they gave us in both the beginning and the ending.

The Characters: I do like the characters and I did gush about both Mirabel and Bruno, but let’s be honest, this movie has the ‘Big Hero 6’ problem. That is, it has too many characters and not nearly enough time to explore them. I loved Luisa’s song. But after her song she begins to lose her super strength and she winds up crying off-camera for most of the remainder of the movie. My favorite part of “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” was Camilo’s verse. Can I tell you anything about Camilo aside from that he’s a trouble-maker? Nope. I heard this movie is possibly getting a television series somewhere down the line and I really think it needs it. Especially for characters like Abuela, who the movie attempts to redeem but never fully has take accountability for not only the way she treated those with powers, but the way she treated Mirabel despite not having any superpowers to speak of either. Many audience members walked away from the movie without truly feeling she earned the forgiveness she was given, and I think part of that is due to how fast the movie wrapped itself up without being able to fully explore each character. I hope a series will give them more time to do what they couldn’t accomplish here.

And that’s it! ‘Encanto’ isn’t perfect, but it’s still a great film that’s worth watching. I’d watch it again, though I feel we need more content before I can be fully satisfied with the story. But what’s wrong with more ‘Encanto’ content? I certainly wouldn’t complain. If you’ve made it this far I genuinely hope you’ve seen ‘Encanto’, but if you haven’t, be sure to watch it on Disney+! I highly recommend it!

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

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