Encanto brings us to a magical valley in Columbia, where exists a magical town, watched over by the Madrigal family.
In the new Disney film Encanto, audiences are told the story of how the family patriarch founded the community with a magical candle and how upon reaching a certain age, all members of her family receive a “gift” from the magical house which gives them an ability to help the community. From being able to heal with cooking to talking to the animals and super strength, the family Madrigal is the beloved pillar of the community.
To every rule, though, there is an exception. Young Mirabel (Stephanie Beatriz) is the only member of her family not to receive a gift of powers. As such, she is seen as a something of an embarrassment by the family. She herself believes she is more tolerated than loved, especially compared to her siblings who are endowed with amazing abilities.
Things change when a new member of the family goes through the gifting ceremony; the first one since Mirabel was denied, and receives an amazing gift and basks in the love of the town and family. Mirabel has a vision of the house cracking and falling into ruin. She tries to warn her family but they see the house in its usual pristine condition and blame Mirabel for being jealous for not having a gift and wanting to take attention away from those who do.
Mirabel believes in what she saw and learns that members of her family may know more than they admit and that they hold the key to saving the day. This leads to a quest to find the absent Uncle Bruno (John Leguizamo), who has been absent, as many believe his gift of prophecy only leads to bad things coming to fruition.
Mirabel is soon forced to look deep inside herself and find her strength to overcome her own insecurities and save her family and community.
The film has great animation and is awash in color as it brings the magical community to life. The music is lively and is what you would expect from Lin-Manuel Miranda as it brings joy and energy to the film that is in keeping with the Disney tradition of amazing music in their animated films.
The biggest issue that I had with the film is that while fun and entertaining; the story never took the next step forward and at times dragged. This is not to say that Encanto is a bad film as it is lively, colorful, and fun; however, it does not reach the heights of Disney classics like Frozen, Moana and other classics. Think of it this way; Lilo & Stitch is a fine animated film but few would hold it in the same regard as The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, or The Little Mermaid.
In the end Encanto offers a fun experience for the family and fans to enjoy and shows how even when they do not reach the top of the mountain. Disney is still the Gold Standard in animation.
4 stars out of 5
Gareth is the mastermind behind the popular pop media site Skewed and Reviewed. He lives in Arizona with his wife Em McBride.