Encanto Review

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!

Cinderella 2021 Review

Everyone knows the classic story of Cinderella. We are all aware of the memorable elements that create the beloved story such as: perfectly-fitting glass slippers, a chiming clock at midnight, a wicked stepmother, and of course, a magical and gracious fairy godmother. You may be wondering why yet another adaptation of Cinderella just had to be made, or why anyone would still be talking about a movie that first came out in 1950. Well, the 2021 remake puts a modern twist on a classic story. This movie will take you through relevant and current issues all while incorporating some of the most important themes of the original story. Today I wanted to review this new movie for you all, and in the end I will share if I believe it is worth watching! Let’s dive in!

This movie was written and directed by Kay Cannon who is known for her writing and producing of the popular series Pitch Perfect (2012-2017). The first movie she directed was a comedy called Blockers (2018), and since then it was announced that she would be working on a new and exciting project, taking on the story of Cinderella (now on Amazon Prime Video). In the film, there are many familiar faces. I think the casting for this movie was interesting in parts, but I was very happy with it overall! You may recognize Camila Cabello, Idina Menzel, James Corden, Billy Porter, and even Pierce Brosnan!

Camila Cabello was cast as the lead role, and I thought this was an interesting and fabulous choice. I have always loved Camila as well as her solo music, so I was intrigued to see her take on acting. What I love about her part in this film is that she was able to bring her bubbly and fun personality to the well-known character of Cinderella. She did this while also staying true to the original character’s grace, gentleness, and kindness. The struggle of living with her evil stepmother and stepsisters continues on in this film, and we see Cinderella (or Ella) doing her best to stay strong in an unsupportive and grim environment. This time, however, she has goals and dreams for herself. Apparently, being stuck in a basement with a variety of fabrics (and furry mice friends) has its perks because it birthed her dream of becoming a dress designer. Throughout the entire movie, Ella is striving for her goals and will stop at nothing to reach them. Even when she has a bright opportunity standing in front of her, she ends up choosing a different path; doing what no princess has done before. There are very clear nods to women empowerment in the movie, which I think is an important touch and something that a modern audience would want to see. Camila brought humor, light, and strength to the character, and I was very pleased with her performance!

Another talented actress that I wanted to discuss is Idina Menzel. I think she plays wicked extremely well, to say the least! Just from watching her play Cinderella’s evil stepmother, you could tell that she put her all into the role, as she always does. She is mean-spirited, brutal, and just plain cruel. This is very similar to the original stepmother, however there is an unexpected twist in this movie that I found very interesting. Although Idina’s character treats Cinderella poorly, there is a shift toward the end of the movie. We as an audience are able to see a softer side to her, as well as a deeper dive into her past. This is quite different to see, but it really adds depth to her character.

In many movies, creators will often choose not to create in-depth storylines for side characters. While I can understand this choice at times, I don’t always love it. In this film, the creators did a fantastic job of bringing importance and meaning to the side characters’ lives. A couple examples would be learning more about the character of the stepmother, or even Prince Robert and the royal family. At first, we were able to glimpse in to the royal family, however as the movie goes on, we start to understand their family dynamic as well as the goals that the family members all have. I really enjoyed seeing what happened behind those royal doors. Although the average person cannot relate to a royal life, the issues the family face show that they are human and they also struggle with making big decisions, following tradition/orders, and even relationship problems. I really liked Pierce Brosnan as King Rowan. This was an unexpected casting choice to me, but nevertheless, I found his character to be entertaining. After pushing Prince Robert to step into maturity and take on his future role as king, he eventually allows for there to be a positive change.

I briefly wanted to mention a couple side characters that I enjoyed watching. First off, I really loved Doc Brown as the town crier. His rapping was really fun to watch and listen to, and it was yet again, something that I have not seen in a movie like this before. Although his part was small, he definitely made a lasting impression! Secondly, I thought it was so great that the casting directors chose Billy Porter to play the Fairy Godmother (or should I say Fabulous Godmother). I think this was a bold but smart choice for the film. Not only is he full of life and outgoing, but he adds something new and unique to the role. Plus, he is a queer man of color, and I think this was a step in the right direction for film.

When we talk about diversity, we often think of color, however in a truly diverse project, you will get people of different races, ethnicities, sizes, shapes, genders, and sexualities. In my opinion, if an actor is amazing at what they do and they can play the role well, they deserve to be part of the project. If we look at the character of Cinderella, for example, she originally has white skin, blonde hair, and is more on the petite side. Camila Cabello does not look like this, however she was chosen to play Cinderella. The same goes for Billy Porter. The original Fairy Godmother was an older woman with white skin. I like that the casting directors knew what they wanted, and that they chose to go in a different direction; one that was more accurate to how real people look and live in our modern world.

For some reason, I did not even think that this would be a musical. I have no idea why, but I was somewhat surprised when the characters were singing throughout the movie (I did not watch the trailer beforehand). Putting together a cast of talented actors who are also musical could probably be quite difficult, but I’m sure the creators had certain people in mind for the roles. Camila is obviously a successful pop artist, Idina has a ton of experience on a Broadway stage as well as acting in movies and on TV (plus her voice is outstanding), James Corden has been in quite a few musicals over the years, and Billy Porter is another Broadway star with an impressive resume. Overall, the actors’ singing voices are exactly what you’d want in a musical! I thought that the songs they chose to cover were interesting. I was surprised by some of them, but they also worked well with the plot. They are also very famous songs that almost everyone would know! Not all songs were covers though; the song “Million to One” was written by Scott Harris and Camila Cabello. This is a song that the audience will hear at a few different points in the movie. I actually really loved the song! I did not recognize it right away, so I had a feeling it was an original that was written for the movie. I think it perfectly describes Ella’s desire and goals to become a dress designer. The dancing is great as well, and it is clear that a lot of time and effort went into practicing. I would imagine that stepping onto the set of a musical would be quite intimidating, however they look extremely fun too!

In movies like this, I always love to see the costumes and makeup. Since Ella wanted to be a dress designer, the stylists had to show that in this film, and I would say they succeeded! I fell in love with the dresses that Cinderella created and wore, but my absolute favorite was definitely the dress she wore to the ball. I like that they chose to go with pink rather than the famous blue dress from the original movie. Truthfully, every characters’ wardrobe really stood out to me. It is exactly what you would imagine royalty or people of importance would wear. Plus it was just really fun and extravagant! If I could have been an extra on set at the Royal Ball, I would have had the time of my life in a big poofy dress!

Although this movie was really great, I wouldn’t say it was perfect. I think this is a fun, feel-good movie to put on when you need something to lift your mood and spirit, but I don’t see myself watching it frequently. There were a few scenes that maybe went on a bit longer than needed, and a couple cringe-worthy moments, but nothing that would make you turn off the movie. While there were some surprises, there were also a few very predictable moments. I guess that will happen in a remake of a popular story though, so I can’t really complain.  I like that it is a movie that anyone at any age can enjoy, because let’s be real, who doesn’t love a good fairytale (or musical, for that matter)?!  If I had to rate the new adaptation of Cinderella, I would give it 3.5 stars out of 5. This movie did not seem to get the best ratings so far, and I am not exactly sure why. I think once one person states their dislike for something, others simply like to join in rather than forming their own opinion. That is why I wanted to write this blog post; to be able to share a different point of view.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading today’s blog post! Thank you, and have an enchanting viewing experience!

IT Chapter Two: Review (Spoilers Ahead)

If you have not watched “IT Chapter Two”, I definitely recommend you go watch it and come back to read this post after! There will be a few spoilers coming up!

I saw the movie around the middle of the month, but I am just now getting the chance to post about it! Although I am not familiar with the books, “IT” was originally a story written by Stephen King who is most commonly known for his horror novels. I absolutely loved the first movie. I thought that the kids were hilarious and it was a great mix of a thriller and a comedy. One minute Richie would be making fun of Eddie’s mother, and then something would suddenly pop out at us. “IT Chapter Two” was very similar in this way. Since I had not previously read the book, I was not sure what to expect from the second movie, but I was thinking that it would be a bit different than the first. If I am being honest, although I loved part two, it sort of felt as if I was watching part one again. Besides seeing the characters as adults and where they are in life 27 years later, the rest was pretty much the same plot.

I have to say, the creators did an incredible job finding older actors who look like the younger actors. I think that they were so spot on! The adults were so much like their younger selves; Eddie was still quite a bit of a germophobe, Bill still stuttered (only when he was in Derry), and Richie was still making fun of Eddie. The movie started out showing each of their adult lives. We saw that Bill became an author, Beverly was in an abusive relationship, Eddie married a woman similar to his mother, and Richie became a comedian. When Mike called each of them and explained who he was, they knew exactly why he had called. I was upset to see that Stanley died because I was hoping that they would all be able to come back (although he was in a couple scenes as his younger self). I loved the scene where they all met up again at the Chinese restaurant. Everything started out fine, and they were having a good time, but then “IT” began to mess with them. Most of them did not want to stay and planned on leaving because they didn’t think that they would be able to fight “IT” again, but they were convinced to stay. I loved when each character went off to find their artifact and they started to see “IT”.  I thought it was hilarious that they brought back Henry Bowers and that he was staying at (and escaped from) an insane asylum. I didn’t think we would be seeing Henry again, but I guess “IT” can bring back whoever it wants!

Now let’s talk about the ending…

When they went back to the abandoned house where they fought “IT” the first time, we knew that the end of the movie was coming. After defeating “IT”, they found that Eddie had died.  I really liked his character, so I was saddened to see that another main character had died, and seeing how his death affected Richie was so upsetting. I think that it was interesting to find out that Richie actually felt a much deeper connection to Eddie than we thought. Although it was not directly stated, the audience left that night knowing that Richie had feelings for Eddie. When he carved “R + E” into the bridge, my heart broke for him.

I knew the moment Beverly and Ben saw each other again that they would end up together (I was going to be so upset if they didn’t)! I felt so bad for Ben in the first movie when he left Beverly alone with Bill. I think that the audience had been rooting for him all along, and he finally got his chance!

I enjoyed seeing some flashbacks of their younger selves because the younger actors were such a major part of the first movie, and the flashbacks were some of my favorite scenes. Seeing the “losers” walking down the street and seeing their younger selves reflected in the window actually made me emotional!

I really enjoyed both “IT” and “IT Chapter Two”, and they have definitely become a couple of my favorite movies! If you saw the movie, leave me a comment below and tell me what you thought. Thank you for reading!