To expand upon my quick thoughts in the video, Encanto is a computer-animated musical fantasy film directed by Jared Bush, Byron Howard, and Charise Castro Smith with original songs written by Lin-Manuel Miranda. The film stars the voices of Stephanie Beatriz, María Cecilia Botero, John Leguizamo, Mauro Castillo, Jessica Darrow, Angie Cepeda, Carolina Gaitán, Diane Guerrero, and Wilmer Valderrama. Set in Colombia, the story follows Mirabel, the only normal member of a family where everyone has magical abilities. After Mirabel has a vision of her family’s home cracking apart, she begins to investigate what could be causing the damage, how it connects to her family, and the connection it has to her missing uncle Bruno.
Encanto has very beautiful animation and we’ve come to a point where Disney and Pixar seem to lead the race in terms of making sure that their projects look great. With the Madrigal’s being a large ethnically diverse family, the animators do a fantastic job showing the different skin tones, body types, facial features, and hairstyles that exist in Hispanic culture. The detail given to each character is astonishing. Mirabel has a medium skin tone that is shared by her sisters and parents. Her aunt Pepa has a very light complexion with natural red hair. Pepa is married to Félix, a Colombian man with darker skin, who is alluded to be an Afro-Colombian. Pepa and Félix’s children are shown to be lighter than Félix, but with a similar type of hair. Mirabel’s family is shown as a melting pot, which is something we need to appear in more films. Showing that family members don’t all have to look exactly the same even though they are genetically related.
The voice acting is executed very well with each voice feeling like a perfect fit for the character. This is helped by the fact that most of the actors are Colombian as well. Most of the voice actors do their own singing and provide the voices for the Spanish-language dubbing of the film as well. All of the characters are fun and exciting and you want them to succeed in whatever their endeavors are. Delores is the most enjoyable because throughout the film she minds her own business while everybody else seems to be doing too much. Her nonchalant attitude stems from the magical powers that allow her to hear everything and nothing comes as a surprise to her. Well, mostly nothing.
Lin-Manuel Miranda is an excellent songwriter. His contribution to this film should not be held lightly. The soundtrack and score for this film are great. I can think of a better person to work with Germaine Franco, who did the score for this film. The songs in Encanto are fantastic and ooze Colombian culture with a little bit of hip hop. Much of the music sounds urban and unrehearsed but it flows out of characters seamlessly as if it is coming from their soul. When they break into song it is less abrupt. This style of music sets it apart from other Disney films where the music feels very much rehearsed.
The weakest part about Encanto is the story and this is because there barely is one. There are some issues of drama within the family and the need to be perfect, but it is not fleshed out. Some elements conveniently disappear when the main character needs help that isn’t explained. This is a major problem with Disney Animation films as their stories do not hold the weight or complexity that Pixar Animation films do. In Encanto, there is no resolution to the question asked at the beginning which is why Mirabel does not get powers like her relatives. She is a little ignored by her grandmother Alma even though she does not exhibit any magical powers like her offspring. Though the family uses their powers to help the town, only a few of the family’s powers tend to be truly helpful. Julieta and Luisa Madrigal’s healing and super strength are the most helpful. The other powers seem to only serve the family. There are hints that their powers can be awakened further as seen when Isabela grows a cactus, but it is not explored further. At one point, Encanto dances around the message being that the family does not need magical powers but then they go back on that message at the end of the film. There is also the allusion that Maribel’s power is that she is the candle and her love for her family keeps everything going, but that also isn’t explored.
While every film does not need a villain per se, it would’ve helped if Encanto had a common enemy for the family to team up against. Like if someone were trying to steal the magic or if they had to come together to solve the mystery of Bruno’s disappearance. There’s a lot of untapped potential here that is never realized. I give Encanto a Solid 6/10. This is your typical fun animated family film and that will make Disney a lot of money from toys sales and other merchandise. This will do a great job entertaining children but do little for adults which is why it should have gone straight to Disney+.