Walt Disney Pictures
Written by Charise Castro Smith, Jared Bush and Byron Howard
Directed by Jared Bush, Byron Howard and Charise Castro Smith
Starring Stephanie Beatriz, Maria Cecilia Botero, John Leguizamo, Mauro Castillo, Jessica Darrow, Angie Capeda, Carolina Gaitan, Diane Guerrero, Wilmer Valderrama, Rhenzy Feliz,Ravi Cabot-Conyers, Adassa
A young Colombian girl has to face the frustration of being the only member of her family without magical powers.
Disney’s 60th animated feature film is one of the most unique thematic and narrative experiences I’ve seen in an animated film in a long time.
Like many animated films, Encanto is about family, but this film takes a unique perspective in how it tells its family story. What makes it unique is that it doesn’t go the conventional route of pitting a broken family against an outside antagonist that forces them to come together. The Madrigal family loves each other from the beginning of the film. You see the pride and love they have for each other brought forth by Mirabel. Despite not having magical powers herself, Mirabel loves her family and does everything that she can to help and support them in her own way.
Each member of the family is given a magical gift brought forth from a tragic event and Abuela Alma is the matriarch of the family who oversees their gifts and how they both benefit the family and the community at large. She firmly believes that the miracle that they have been blessed with requires service to the people around them and it is a great message for the audience, kids especially.
Another unique aspect of the story is that because there is no outside antagonist, the conflict within the film is found within its characters. Abuela’s desire to serve the miracle their family has been given puts a lot of pressure on her children and grandchildren with gifts. Those pressures lead to both the bigger conflict within the movie when their powers begin to fade as well as well as the smaller conflict of how they deal with and around Mirabel when she sees danger for the miracle itself.
Mirabel’s desire to be of service to the family leads her to speak to her siblings and cousins and you can see the internal conflicts play out perfectly with Luisa through her song ‘Surface Pressure’ whose lyrics betray just how deep the song, the story and the character’s internal conflicts really are. There is literally a line in the song that asks if the character can ‘escape the crushing weight of expectation’ that perfectly encapsulates the biggest conflict in the film for both Mirabel and the rest of her family.
Encanto uses magic and music to tell one of the most relatable family stories I’ve seen in a long time. Most of its elements work brilliantly because it allows for the characters to be the focus and not some external threat that must be overcome. If there is anything that doesn’t work as well for me is the conflict with Isabel and Mariano. It could have used more development, but it doesn’t distract from the rest of the story.
From the music to the interpersonal conflicts and their resolutions, Encanto delivers a beautifully personal and visually stunning story that connects with everyone while showcasing and embracing the culture of Colombia. It’s one of the best Disney animated features in the last decade.
Add Encanto to your collection now on Digital and on 4K Ultra HD™, Blu-ray™ and DVD February 8.