These days, it is hard to get to the theater- or, more accurately, I haven’t found the motivation to go and see every movie that catches my attention. Rather than choosing to pay a premium price for a film in a theater jam-packed with the occasional anti-maskers, I opted to stay home and check out a few films at home via Disney+. Among those were Marvel’s Eternals, the only MCU film I haven’t seen in a theater, and the beautiful Encanto.
Now, I feel I must confess that at first, I wasn’t really all that interested in seeing Encanto. I figured it would be all too similar to Coco (which was great, but those catchy songs got old fast), and so I decided to ignore it up until this last weekend. In some way, somehow, Encanto ended up on my 70-inch 4K TV (humblebrag), and I decided to give it a shot. And I am truly glad I did.
Encanto follows a multigenerational Colombian family, the Madrigals, helmed by a matriarch whose children and grandchildren—except for Mirabel Madrigal (Beatriz)—receive magical gifts from a “miracle” that helps them serve the people in their rural community called “the Encanto”. When Mirabel learns the family is in danger of losing their magic, she sets out to find out what is happening, to save her family and their magical house. –Wikipedia
First, let me just say that the cast, led by Stephanie Beatriz (Rosa Diaz from Brooklyn Nine-Nine), is charming, engaging, and lovely from start to finish. The characters they portray shine as bright as the flashy animations throughout all 102 minutes of the movie. Adding in that the songs are delightful, the characters relatable, and just the right amount of family values all coated with Disney magic, you have yourself a winner.
Speaking of music, I just had to share the film’s best song, The Family Madrigal, featuring the voices of Stephanie Beatriz and Olga Merediz. I was blown away by the creative way the song flows and rhymes from word to word but what was most impressive was how truly incredible Beatriz’s singing voice is. From the rough and tumble Rosa Diaz to the remarkably sensitive and kind-hearted Mirabel, Beatriz shines brighter than the magic flames from the magic candle everlasting. Anyway, here is the song courtesy of DisneyMusicVEVO:
The story has its weak points, though. However, I blame myself for wanting more here. I’ll explain.
The family has all these magic gifts that are provided to them through “a miracle” in the form of a magic candle that arrives after a tragedy. This candle burns throughout the years and never goes out until the bad things start to happen that need to be sorted out by Maribel. What I wanted most, again- no spoilers, was an explanation of what this magic was or how this miracle became to be, why it took the form of a candle, and just what exactly gives their house life and personality. I presume there are some Colombian historical references here that I do not get due to my ignorance but never did the movie allude to where all this comes from. And considering all the various abilities this family has and what the house can do, I figured we might get an explanation sort of like how Moana involved deities and spirits and demigods to wrap the plot devices up in a neat little bow. Unfortunately, we did not get any of that but this is strictly how my brain works and in no way does it hurt the movie nor will many people question these things- it’s just me.
As is typical of me when I watch a Disney film, I teared up a few times. The idea of family togetherness is so important and the values and connection that the Madrigal’s have with each other is inspiring, moving, and tear-jerking. The good news here is that the film never once strays away from its morals while also showing that despite struggles, in and out of family life, with hard work, perseverance, etc., there can be a happy ending for all.