I love that Disney is actively pushing and diversifying its female heroines. The most recent Disney-Pixar: Encanto is everything I wish I had seen as a little girl. Encanto is (yes, I must admit) better than Raya and the Last Dragon in that it has crazy good songs! By the one and only Lin Manuel Miranda (Hamilton, In the Heights, Moana…). We Don’t Talk About Bruno and Surface Pressure are my two favorite songs from this deck.
Somewhat a tribute to the book One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez’, Encanto is about a magical family called the Madrigals. Three generations live together in one house (sounds familiar, anyone?) and of course as you can imagine in such a living situation family dynamics are likely to explode (which it did). Without someone taking initiative to patch it up together, all you’d have is a ruin, both figuratively and literally.
Enter, Mirabel Madrigal, is the only person in her family that is “average” (like Number Seven in Umbrella Academy but we all know the reality behind that!). She didn’t get a magical gift at the age of 5 when everyone else got theirs. As a result Mirabel becomes the brunt of Abuela’s (her matriarchal grandmother) insecurity about their magic was running out. Mirabel has a vision that their home starts to cracks, so she investigates deeper into her family. One by one hidden truths are revealed, family relationships are restored, and their magic comes back strong.
A happy ending with a terribly sad beginning – we get to see more of Abuela’s backstory at the very end… Lots of tears from me, even on the 2nd time watching.
Side Characters in Encanto
There are a host of fun and also layered side characters, from Dolores the gossip to sweetheart Antonio who can talk to animals. Of course, the one nobody wants to talk about – the prodigal uncle Bruno is just a riot of a character. I like how the directors immediately inserted the mystery about Bruno in the beginning song, giving just a bit of foreshadow of the plot. Luisa, the muscular and bulky oldest sister is super strong. But under all that strength is a weight that’s tip-tip-tipping on her. Her song Surface Pressure strikes me as a very modern and adult. Yet it was a great way to introduce the importance of mental health and self-care to kids. Thanks to Hercu-lady.
Isabella, Mirabel’s second oldest sister is also an interesting character study. She starts off as the classic pretty and perfect girl. Her gift is being able to produce beautiful flowers to decorate anything pink and purple. We eventually learn she hates being perfect all the time, and actually wants to be a bit naughty. YES! You know that’s the stuff I like! Other members of the family include Pepa who can control weather and her husband Felix, Julieta (Mirabel’s mother) who can heal any ailments with her food with her husband Augustin, and Camilo the family clown who can impersonate anyone. There isn’t really a plot outside of the family members, so these characters drive the show.
Last of all, it’s an animated film and the animation is SPOT ON especially with the dancing and choreography . The way the 3D figures move, the lighting, the coloring, is all very realistic. Apparently there is a new technology Disney used called the eye-shader which heightens emotions through the eyes. Let me tell ya, it worked. At times I even forgot it’s an animation! A must see for the whole family.