Disney has done it yet again. Their 60th animated feature has been an absolute hit amongst Disney fans around the world (myself included)! I recently saw this fantastic film and immediately knew that I wanted to write about it. I watched it once for enjoyment and because it was new and then a second time to take notes for this post. I am so excited to share my review on this film with you all. Let’s get into it.
Encanto is a story that follows a multigenerational Colombian family. A family that, on the outside seems perfect, but inside the Madrigal home lies brokenness that is in need of mending (but we’ll get to that later on). The Madrigal family was once blessed with a miracle, and each member of the family is given a gift once they reach a certain age. For example, Luisa is super strong, Dolores can hear from miles away, and little Antonio can understand and speak to animals. Then we have Mirabel, who, as a young girl was so curious and hopeful when her gift ceremony came along. The night ended in confusion and disappointment when her own magical door disappeared as she stood before it. This is ultimately where the story begins.
The cast of this film did such a phenomenal job, and many of them are new to the acting world, which makes this even more impressive! I was familiar with Diane Guerrero and Wilmer Valderrama, however I had never heard of any of the other actors. This film had been in the making for quite some time, and due to COVID-19, the cast did their voice-overs from home, and were coached over zoom! It just shows that despite challenging times, the actors were all optimistic and made the most out of the situation. The film was released on November 24, 2021 in the US, and has seemed to have mostly positive reviews.
This film was very different compared to other animated Disney films. For example, rather than focusing solely on one main character, we were introduced to many different characters and we were able to understand some of them almost as much as Mirabel. I believe that side characters are just as important, and they can even make or break a film. Well, these characters definitely made the film! They all played their roles so well, and their voices fit perfectly with their characters. I like that each character was seen as an important part of the family, especially toward the end of the film. Something else that stood out to me is that this story seems to have a much deeper meaning compared to older and even some recent Disney films. There were meanings and messages that I don’t believe Disney has ever covered before, and this is important because it makes it more relatable and honest.
My favorite part about this film is that is focuses on family. Certain parts of the storyline really resonated with me, and I am sure that many people can find those things to be relatable, even within their own families. I am someone who is very close with my family, and to watch this with them was very fun and enjoyable. This film truly is for everyone, no matter your age. It is a story for everyone to enjoy and learn from. I also love that it focuses on such a vibrant and beautiful culture that deserves to be represented.
Representation in Disney films seemed to be non-existent for a long time. I appreciate and admire Disney for finally telling stories of other wonderful cultures. This is so important in our world today because people want to see people that look like them. Young children need to see and admire people on screen that they can relate to in some way, whether it be their lifestyle, their traditions, or their skin color. It is also important because the world we live in is incredibly diverse, and we all don’t look the same. Although I have never been to Colombia myself, I find the culture and country beautiful, and I think that this film can open new doors for their audience. We can all learn and appreciate those who are different from us. Since the theme of the film is family, I believe that it can be relatable for most people. I am looking forward to Disney working on more projects and stories that represent different people from different countries and cultures.
Disney songs are songs that stick with you for the rest of your life. We all grew up knowing every word to at least one Disney song. In Encanto, we are introduced to 8 original songs written by the talented Lin-Manuel Miranda and produced by Mike Elizondo. Lin-Manuel Miranda and the team actually visited Colombia, where the setting of the film is based, and they studied the music there. This truly shows us just how much they wanted the music to be accurate to the culture. It also shows how dedicated they were to the story and film. Some of my favorite songs from the film include: We Don’t Talk About Bruno, Surface Pressure, Dos Oruguitas, and Colombia, Mi Encanto. The songs in this film are incredibly catchy, fun, and authentic. They will 100% get stuck in your head, but you’ll never get sick of them! Whether you know a lot about music or not, everyone can appreciate the beautiful songs that were created for this film.
Now let’s dive into the characters and plot a bit…
There are a few characters that really stood out to me, and I wanted to write in depth for them. First, Abuela. Early on in the film, we get to learn about her past and how she got to where she is today. Her story is very real, because many people have had to leave their homes and start a new life elsewhere. It is a heartbreaking story, knowing that she lost her husband, was left with three babies, and had to start over completely. Luckily, their miracle found them quite quickly, and the burning candle stayed bright and strong for the Madrigal family. The miracle allowed them to have a home again, and soon after that comes the town of Encanto. Abuela had clearly experienced a lot of trauma in her lifetime, and we see that come out in many ways throughout the film. She lived on edge; terrified that their miracle would somehow be taken away from them. She relied so much on the miracle and her family’s gifts that she eventually lost sight of what’s most important.
Since Mirabel did not receive a gift, it was easy for her grandmother to focus on other family members and even put them on a pedestal. Although Mirabel seemed to be strong and ok with the fact that she did not receive a gift, we quickly come to find that she is still confused and upset many years later. Though she is proud of her family, she dreams of having a gift of her own. She believes that she truly can move mountains, if only she was given the chance. After constantly getting rejected and blamed by her grandmother, she finally stands up for herself and confronts her Abuela. Toward the climax of the film, she tells her grandmother, “I will never be good enough for you”. She even goes on to say that her Abuela is the one who ruined the family, not her. Although she could have worded this a lot better, I think it was something that she needed to say, and her grandmother needed to hear. For too many years, Abuela was living in fear, and she forgot to show as much love and appreciation to Mirabel as the other family members, which wasn’t right. She comes to recognize her mistakes and makes amends with Mirabel, and this was such a beautiful and heart-warming scene. The tears were definitely starting to fall at that point.
We don’t talk about Bruno… but, we HAVE to talk about Bruno! Throughout the entire film, we get a very small glimpse into the life of Bruno, or at least what others thought of him. At first his character was very mysterious, leaving the audience to wonder what happened to Bruno. The issue is, how is anyone supposed to learn from the situation if they aren’t allowed to talk about it? The Madrigal family, particularly Abuela clearly felt a lot of pain from the situation, and she felt it was best to keep it quiet. In reality, they may have been able to make amends sooner had more people known about what truly happened. In some ways, Bruno was very similar to Mirabel. Although he did have a gift (seeing the future), they were both sort of the misfits in the family. They felt a bit misunderstood and at times, left out. Everyone seemed to blame Bruno when his visions were negative or confusing, when he was ultimately just having visions of the future and trying to warn everyone. They made him out to be a not-so-great person, so it was more understandable when he decided to walk away from the family. We come to find that all along, Bruno was living within the walls of the family home! If you were shocked about this, you must not have heard Dolores sing: “I could always hear him sort of muttering and mumbling” and when the family all found out that Bruno was there, she then confesses that she knew it all along. I guess when you can hear everything, there are no secrets! I absolutely loved how Mirabel went to find Bruno and that in many ways, they both helped each other. I also loved that Bruno actually left because he was trying to protect Mirabel. This shows us that although he was frustrated with the family and what they thought of him, he still cared and loved them. The reunion at the end was exactly what I was hoping for, and I love that there weren’t many words exchanged between Bruno and his family, but of course, he did sing his apologies!
Next up, I want to talk about Luisa, AKA the strong one. I really found Luisa’s character to be interesting and entertaining. There are also many layers to her that start to unfold throughout the film. At first, we see her as the strong sister, physically and emotionally. She’s always helping the people of Encanto as well as her family. What we end up realizing is that she actually feels a lot of pressure in her life. When Mirabel finally gets Luisa alone to ask about what is happening to the miracle, Luisa finally breaks (out into song). If you pay close attention to the lyrics, you’ll hear a cry for help. Luisa is actually terrified of letting her family and Encanto down, and she feels like she constantly has the weight of the world on her shoulders. A few lines from her song that really stood out to me include, “I’m pretty sure I’m worthless if I can’t be of service”, “I hide my nerves, and it worsens, I worry something is gonna hurt us”, and “Give it to your sister, it doesn’t hurt and see if she could handle every family burden”. Sometimes, we can look at certain people and admire them so much for their strength, not realizing that they may be struggling. Strong people, whether the strength is physical, emotional, or both, need a break too. They feel just as much negative emotion as anyone else, and that is what Luisa teaches us.
Mirabel was such a great main character. What I love most about her is that she is relatable, brave, likable, and that she loves her family more than anything. She was fun and entertaining to watch, and I think that she was incredibly strong. Throughout the film, I began to piece together why she did not receive a gift, and what her gift may have actually been. I had a feeling that the house was ultimately her gift. When everyone came together to build the house back together at the end, I got emotional as they handed Mirabel the doorknob that they made for her. In that moment, it was clear to me that I was right, and that the house was her gift. I think it was a moment of realization for the family, and it was so nice to see Mirabel get the love and appreciation that she always deserved.
I briefly wanted to talk about Antonio, because I really loved this character. Although his part was quite small, I think he was just as important as the other characters. We are introduced to Antonio very early on, and we can sense his nervousness and fear about his upcoming gift ceremony. I just adored the relationship between Mirabel and Antonio. It was clear that she really cared about and believed in him. Since Mirabel’s ceremony was the last one before Antonio’s, it was easy for us to understand why he was a bit scared. Not only was Antonio nervous, but I think the entire family and the town of Encanto were nervous too. No one knew what to expect, and they were fearful that Antonio wouldn’t receive a gift like Mirabel (not that this would really be all that terrible). It was so sweet of Mirabel to walk Antonio up the staircase to his door. Everyone is relieved when his door lights up and his gift is revealed; Antonio can speak to and understand animals! Childlike amazement and curiosity cross Mirabel’s face when she sees this happening before her. The family had a new and exciting gift.
The story of Encanto is so inspiring, special, and charming, and I absolutely loved every second of it! There are so many lessons that were placed throughout the film, and anyone at any age can benefit from watching. More than anything, it shows how pain and trauma can be passed on, and if you don’t confront these things at some point, it can put the same pain onto those you love. The family needed to break and have things fall apart so they could come back together stronger than before. Of course, the most positive and uplifting message in the film is that family is everything, and I couldn’t agree with this more! I think my fiancé said it best: “If you wait long enough, you can get the whole house, not just one room.” Essentially, patience is key. If you are patient and you remain grateful, you will always be rewarded in the end. Never give up, hold onto hope, and stay strong in your beliefs.
Thank you so much for reading! I would love to know what you thought of this film, so please leave a comment below so we can connect and talk about it. Until next time!