Encanto is the latest animated film from the Walt Disney Company and is Disney Animation’s 60th film.
It stars Stephanie Beatriz as Maribel Madrigal, a young Colombian teenager who lives with her family in a magical house called Casita. Each family member was granted a special gift, except her.
She is somewhat of an outsider as she feels that due to her not receiving a gift she is somewhat neglected. Even her father and uncle who married into the family seem to be more involved than her. But something is about to happen that will put her and her family’s livelihood in danger and it is up to her to save them.
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD. SKIP TO FINAL THOUGHTS TO AVOID THEM.
So as her younger cousin Antonio receives his gift, Maribel notices that the house is beginning to crack. Her grandmother, Abuela Amal, brushes it off as her seeking attention, but she secretly knows that something is up.
Maribel, after seeing that her sister Lusia is loosing her gift, breaks into her uncle Bruno’s room. Bruno, played by John Liguizamo, has been missing but is able to predict the future. One of his predictions said that Maribel would be involved in the destruction of the house. But didn’t know if she would cause its destruction or save it.
Maribel’s vision is found out by her cousin Dolores, who is a chatter box, and tells everyone at dinner where Maribel’s sister, Isabella, was going to be proposed to. This causes a rift in the family, especially with Abuela, since she is the head of the household and “Does what is best for the family”.
Maribel finds Uncle Bruno and has him cast another vision spell to see if the future has changed. Maribel finds that she needs to reconnect with Isabella to try and fix things. But when she and Isabella make up after their fight Abuela is angry that Maribel is having her act that way. Maribel realizes that she isn’t the problem, but that it’s Abuela’s control over the family in wanting everyone to be “Perfect” and “Do what is best for the family” that is causing their misfortunes.
After this revelation the house is destroyed and everyone looses their gifts. Maribel then runs away, but Abuela finds her at the river where their family was blessed 50 years earlier. The two then reconcile as they realize that family is the true magic. They go back home and the family, along with the grateful townspeople rebuild the house. The magic is then restored and everyone gets their gifts back and they all live together again is the house, gift or no gift.
The film has a lot of good ideas, but not all of them stick. Abuela comes off an abusive in the first two acts and clearly has favoritism for those who are gifted but does realize her mistakes in the end.
Many of the characters have little involvement with the story other than gags or visual humor.
There are songs in this film But about half of them come out of nowhere and feel pointless. After seeing the film I honestly can’t remember a single one. No earworm music here. They live in a large valley surrounded by mountains but never really explore beyond the house, which again is supposed to be alive but it doesn’t really add anything.
And the message about “Family being the real magic” would have been better had the family not gotten their superpowers back. All they need is each other, to count on and support each other, that would have been a great lesson. But no, they get their magic powers back even when the magic candle burnt out. It makes it feel like no lesson was learned. And yes they make a Let it Go reference, because of course they do.
I give this film a 6.8/10. Better than Raya and the Last Dragon for sure with fun visuals and a quirky main character. But what keeps it back is the lack of a “Wow Factor”. Yes kids will enjoy the film just fine. But the music is forgettable, most of the characters take a back seat and don’t do much and it has the usual “Everything goes back to what it was before” ending without much consequence. It is better than some other recent animated films, but it doesn’t quite reach those usual “Disney Standards” you’d expect.
The film is currently exclusive to theaters. It’s a good film to watch in theaters this Thanksgiving/Christmas season, but if you’re expecting another Coco you’ll be a little disappointed.
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