Walt Disney Animation Studios brings us their newest animated musical coming-of-age fantasy comedy, Encanto. This film was directed by Byron Howard and Jared Bush, the team that brought us Zootopia. Our film follows the Madrigals, a family that lives in a magical town in Colombia. Everything in their house moves on its own, and everyone in the family has a magical gift. Camilo can shapeshift, Aunt Pepa can control the weather, but Mirabel doesn’t have a gift. Unlike her family, she has no powers, but when she discovers the magic may be under threat, she decides to save it for her family.
This is Disney’s second animated movie of the year after Raya and the Last Dragon, but this is their first musical since 2019’s Frozen II. And this is Lin Manuel-Miranda’s third movie soundtrack of the year after In the Heights and Vivo, so it’s time to buckle up for a beautifully animated movie that will tug at all the heartstrings that a Disney movie does. This is not one of the best films that Disney has made, but there are so many qualities about this movie for everyone to enjoy.
It should come as no surprise that this movie has gorgeous animation. Disney’s 3D animation has evolved so much in the past few years, and it is on full display in this movie as we get fantastic visuals and colors that pop off the screen. In addition, it’s a vibrant, energetic movie that only gets enhanced by its status in the musical genre. The way the house moves is often to the beat of the music, and it allows for some excellently crafted sequences throughout the film.
The way the characters are written is interesting as well. Encanto has many characters, but it knows how to give the characters just the right amount of screen time while keeping the focus on our protagonist, Mirabel. So many characters feel like people we would know in real life, and it may even be easy to tie the characters into our family members. Mirabel is also delightfully quirky and weird, feeling different from Disney princesses and bringing her own type of charisma to the table. She’s an excellent protagonist, portrayed very well by Stephanie Beatriz.
John Leguizamo also does a pleasant job as Bruno, Mirabel’s uncle who can see the future. He brings the perfect amount of comic relief to the film, adding well-timed humor to his scenes. We also had Diane Guerrero as Isabela, Mirabel’s older sister. Isabela’s status as perfect and successful creates a fascinating, well-realized dynamic between the two that ultimately leads to a satisfying conclusion. Finally, Mirabel’s relationship with Abuela Alma is the film’s emotional center. It allows for some incredibly well-written scenes of tension between these two characters while also leading somewhere beautiful and sad. Because when the film delves into real tragedies surrounding Colombians, the waterworks begin to flow, and the way the film handles this subject matter works in volumes.
The movie’s weakest link, surprisingly, is the music. While Miranda’s excellent songwriting is on display here, the songs can feel a bit overproduced, and there is no standout musical number as they all feel like the whipped cream on top of our milkshake, rather than an ingredient that makes the shake sweeter. However, Encanto remains an absolute delight that manages to be funny, sad, heartwarming, and it may have us tapping our feet to the beat of its well-choreographed musical numbers.
As ComingSoon’s review policy explains, a score of 7 equates to “Good.” A successful piece of entertainment that is worth checking out, but it may not appeal to everyone.