March 11, 2022 | LIFE | By Grace Cutler

It may have been a few months since Encanto, the revolutionary children’s and family movie, was released on Disney Plus. Nevertheless, it still deserves a review given the extent to which many of its soundbites, choreographed scenes, and choruses have blown up popular social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram.

No matter the viewer’s age, Disney’s Encanto has something for everyone. As proven by the viral TikTok dances to some of the movie’s most popular songs, such as “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” or “Surface Pressure,” the soundtrack (written and composed by Lin Manuel-Miranda) is catchy, upbeat, and conveys some very palatable messages for children and adults alike.

The songs naturally complement the plot of the movie. Encanto begins by explaining how everyone in La Familia Madrigal possesses a magical power because of the miracle their Abuela, the matriarch of the family, was given when her family was forced to flee their home.

When her children and each of her grandchildren reach a certain age, they are given a “gift that is just as special as [they] are” and a town-wide ceremony to commemorate the occasion.

But when young Mirabel Madrigal came of age, she never received a gift. Mirabel loves her family and her grandmother’s miracle deeply, so when she starts noticing problems with her family’s magic, she embarks on a quest, much to her abuela’s chagrin, to find out why the magic is fading, and save her family’s miracle.

Mirabel’s journey leads her to discover her uncle Bruno’s prophecy as being the reason behind the miracle’s downfall, and Mirabel is the only person who can reverse it. To do so, she must console her strong older sister who is cracking under the pressure her family is putting on her, and eventually show her Abuela that the magic is not what needs to be saved.

In the end, both the miracle and the family’s casita are destroyed. However, with Mirabel’s help, the family realizes the miracle was never about magic, it was about the family itself. Through this realization, Mirabel returns the magic to the casita and the family.

Encanto has something that just about everyone can relate to. Mirabel’s sister Louisa’s gift of superhuman physical strength reveals how much pressure her family puts on her because of this gift. She is never given a break, something many oldest siblings and parents can relate to.

Isabela, another sister, is the family’s idea of the perfect child, and they push their high expectations onto her. They force her to marry to a man she barely knows, let alone likes, just to benefit the family, and she is never allowed to express herself.

Mirabel pretends to not mind being the only one in the family without a magical gift, but she truly longs to be recognized and fit in with the rest of her gifted family rather than overlooked and sidelined for being ordinary, which is something else audience members can perhaps relate to.  

As an avid Lin Manuel-Miranda and Disney content consumer, I absolutely loved this movie. But I would love it even if I didn’t possess my love for Lin Manuel-Miranda’s work or Disney movies in general. What sets Encanto apart is the fact it has an original plot, differentiating itself from the live action remakes Disney has been churning out for the last few years.

It isn’t just another sappy whitewashed Disney princess movie where the princess meets the prince and falls in love. There is no prince in this movie, and the characters are diverse with complex lives and emotions. Encanto uses various levels of humor that can be appreciated by different age groups, and it introduces new elements of Colombian culture and music. The colors and animation are superb.

Even though it still has a very Disney-eque happy ending, Encanto doesn’t overlook important topics and elements that some other Disney movies do. To sum it up, this movie is one of my new favorite musicals and tear-jerkers.

Encanto is available to stream on Disney Plus.

1 Comment

  1. Exactly, this movie is very special even among my other favorite Disney films. It really does have something for everyone, regardless of age, gender or nationality or ethnic background. All the characters have their quirks that make them both loveable and relatable, I could listen to the songs on repeat and there’s a perfect balance of funny and emotional scenes. Oh, that engagement dinner!

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