REVIEW: Encanto


Can we just take a moment to acknowledge the explosive year Lin Manuel Miranda has had? “In the Heights”, “tick, tick… BOOM!”, and now this! I mean, the man cannot be stopped!

“Encanto” is Disney’s latest entry in their animated installments, and tells the story of Mirabel, a young girl born into a family gifted with incredible magic. When the family’s magical powers are threatened, it’s up to Mirabel to ensure her family and her family’s name and power remain intact. The twist here is that while Mirabel is born into a magical family where every member has some sort of supernatural gift, she has none to bear, so she is left to rely on her wits and sharp thinking.

I have lost count of how many times I’ve said that Disney has outdone themselves in the animation department, but I’ll say it again here: they have once again blown it out of the water.

Back in March of this year, I discussed their previous animated film, “Raya and the Last Dragon,” and how I doubted they could exceed the limit they reached with that movie, but oh how right it feels to be wrong. I found myself constantly in awe at how thoroughly detailed the characters, architecture, grass, jungle flora, and water are portrayed on screen. (Disney, please tell me how you do it with the water!)

Moreover, there were two major blink-and-you’ll-miss-them moments that left me quite stunned. The first is when Mirabel’s sister Luisa’s arm is in a shot and you can actually see her arm hairs. The second is a moment where you can see the creping of Aubuela Alma’s skin on her aging hands. Details like this are completely unnecessary, but the fact that they added them impressed me to no end, and it just goes to show why, in terms of detail, Disney remains untouched.

The film’s soundtrack proves that Miranda is essential to the music industry at this point. The stylish music is what breathes life into the story, and had me head bopping more than once. Jessica Darrow’s (or Luisa’s) song “Surface Pressure” is by far my favorite, as it screams groovy and is easily the most memorable of the entire album. While this soundtrack isn’t Miranda’s best work, it still managed to hook me with how upbeat and electric it sounded in the theater.

One thing I adore about the narrative are the parallels it draws to real life. In the past, I often found myself wishing I could be like other people so I might stand out a little, or even just fit in. As I’ve grown, I’ve come to the realization that that’s not how life works and began to understand that even if I can’t do what others can, that doesn’t mean I’m less of a person. I’ve learned that I have my own unique gifts and talents and have come to appreciate them.

In the case of Mirabel, this same message is echoed throughout, and it hit very close to home for me.

I’m sure all my readers have seen at least one Disney movie in their lives, so I don’t think it will come as a shock when I say that cliché is status quo for their movies. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just that you really won’t be surprised by the outcome of this film. However, there’s a pleasant twist that happened at the end, and the climax left me a bit misty-eyed (no, I am not ashamed to admit that).

Overall, this film is a very good time. It’s not the strongest Disney movie ever, but with the cleanest animation to date, strong characters, and heartfelt message, this is an entertaining watch for the entire family.

“Encanto” is now playing in theaters everywhere, and I recommend you grab a date, or your family, and go experience it. It’s a film with a message that, albeit quite predictable, is important for all ages.


Jury declares: B+