Walt Disney Animation Studios brings one of its most joyful, vibrant, and intimate animated films to the big screen right in time for Thanksgiving. Encanto is a treasure for those who have ever had a hard time feeling special. With toe-tapping tunes and adorable animated characters (Antonio, I’m looking at you), add Encanto to your must-watch list this holiday season.
Encanto begins with Mirabel (voice of Stephanie Beatriz) singing a fast-paced song to introduce all the members of the Madrigals, a multigenerational family who live hidden in the colorful mountains of Colombia, in a magical house, in a charmed place called an Encanto. Every child of the Madrigal family receives a unique gift when they are young with special powers to help out their community, well every child except Mirabel.
Nobody knows why Mirabel did not receive a gift, but she often compares herself to her family members who do have them, especially her perfect sister Isabela, graced with beauty and the power to leave flowers wherever she goes.
The night her cousin Antonio is supposed to receive his gift, Mirabel notices cracks in the house’s magic and the candle that holds their miracle begins to flicker. Her super strong sister Luisa even admits to feeling some weakness. Abuela Alma, the matriarch of the family denies that the magic is wavering and will do anything to protect the family’s secrets, even at the cost of her son, Bruno (John Leguizamo), who can see the future and is now the family outcast. But shhh, they don’t talk about Bruno.
Mirabel may be a little quirky, may not possess “special gifts,” but she is courageous enough to risk her life for her love of familia. It’s nice to have another Disney female character to break the typical princess trope in the likes of Merida, Moana, and Raya. With short curly hair and glasses, Mirabel doesn’t look like your typical heroine, but that she is, giving little girls with glasses the chance to see themselves on screen.
Having another film with Latino culture and representation is special for brown girls like me. The details in the Colombian costumes and wardrobe, the bright mountain setting, and the folklore through music is so exciting! My inner little girl was screaming. But older me? She was dancing along to every Lin-Manuel Miranda song and memorizing every lyric. A particular standout, “Dos Oruguitas,” moved me to tears. If you’re not a Lin-Manuel fan, well, you may not love Encanto, because it feels very heavily Manuel influenced from the get-go. For me, that’s not a bad thing, as I loved In The Heights.
Encanto is the 60th animated feature from Walt Disney Animation Studios, and the animation is spectacular as each expression looks incredibly human and real, thus evoking emotion from every character.
Encanto is a more simplistic storyline without the flashiness or villains of Moana. But the important messages of family, forgiveness, love, and acceptance are what makes Encanto a perfect family-friendly pick for the holidays. You can have Maui, I’ll keep Bruno.