Encanto is Disney's 60th anniversary film that debuted in cinemas but has now found it’s home on Disney+.
I know I’m a little late to the party but when the movie was first announced and the trailer rolled out, I wasn’t too fussed about it. Nothing really stood out to me and after Disney’s last movie, Raya and the Last Dragon, I wasn’t too excited.
But after seeing it blow up on social media, I decided to take a chance and watch it for myself.
I went into the movie knowing nothing, except that the internet was obsessed with this guy named Bruno.
The movie starts up with this flashback scene that fits rather well into those golden age Disney movies, a massive tragedy that sets up the protagonist’s fears for the present day. But after those few minutes of solemn expression, we get this bright, colourful opening song that showcases the characters without having them individually great the audience.
‘Welcome to our family madrigal’ is a great opening number and really sets the standards of songs to come, it does a great job of introducing our main character, Mirabel, and highlights such beautiful animation.
Through this song we discover what each character’s gift is and how Mirabel lacks one, but it doesn’t really matter because she’s part of this wonderful family.
We get told the beginning of the plot and get an idea of Mirabel’s character through lyrics like: “I never meant this to get autobiographical.”
The plot really picks up when we get to see the ceremony for Antonio, with flashbacks to Mirabel’s own and feel the emotion she feels. You genuinely feel sad when she turns to her grandmother after her door disappears and she doesn’t receive her gift.
We then get the classic ‘I want’ song that is seen in pretty much every Disney movie, you’ve got ‘For the first time in forever’ from Frozen, ‘When will my life begin’ in Tangled and ‘Belle’ from Beauty and the Beast.
‘Waiting on a miracle’ isn’t exactly my favourite song from the soundtrack, that comes much later, but it does do a great job at conveying Mirabel’s feelings. And I love the way the song starts off with the family taking a picture together without her, time seems to slow down as she sings her true feelings.
When the song ends, we finally get into the conflict of the movie, the magical house is breaking apart. Abuela, Mirabel’s grandmother, doesn’t believe her and somewhat shows her villain side.
You feel the tension in the scene, everyone from the family and from the small village is having a good time, then Mirabel rushes in to essentially ruin it. You grow frustrated with how the other character don’t believe her and find yourself yelling along with Mirabel.
We soon see how the house breaking affects the ‘miracle candle’, the thing that gave them the house and gifts in the first place. This is probably one of the downsides of the movie, it’s never explained how or why the candle is magical.
We see when it first became magical, but how did it do that? And why a candle? How does it give powers out to people? And why only their family?
None of these questions are ever answered and I think the reason is because it’s magic, it’s magic for the sake of it being magic. You’re not meant to ask questions about it, or it ruins the fun. And I don’t really like it when movies do this, especially when the magic candle is the main plot point of the movie.
Moving on to something more positive, I love the family dynamic and character interactions with this movie. The characters are fun and relatable, even if the culture isn’t something of your own you can find something in one of these characters that you can relate to.
A lot of people have already christened Mirabel as a Disney Princess and I have to disagree with them. Mirabel isn’t royalty and if we’re going by the definition of a princess, she isn’t one.
And I’m okay with that.
I know Disney’s whole brand is royalty, fairytales and such, but we’re in the modern times and princesses aren’t the same as they were in the 40s or 90s. When I was growing up, I never wanted to be a princess, sure I liked watching Cinderella but that’s not something I aimed for.
And I still think it’s that way today, kids are more interested in becoming Youtubers and Tiktokers. The role of a princess isn’t redundant in the media, but I don’t think Disney should rely on it as much as they are.
I would love to see a female character just be themselves than be shoved into the princess group.
That’s why I think Mirabel should stay the same and not mixed into the same group as Cinderella or Ariel, it doesn’t even fit the character’s personality to be put with them.
Rant over, I want to talk about possibly the most talked about character in this movie: Bruno.
During the opening song we get the line: “We don't talk about Bruno!”
We get slivers of what he’s like and his gift, being able to see visions of the future. One day he saw something that the family wouldn’t understand so he left and was never seen again.
But a large chunk of this movie revolves around finding Bruno to solve this vision Mirabel gets. Said vision being that she believes she destroys the house and the miracle candle.
We get the best song in this movie without a doubt, the way the lyrics flow into each other, each a different style. The collaborative lyrics towards the end make up for a lack of a chorus, it has to be one of Disney’s best songs they’ve done since ‘Let it go’.
‘We don’t talk about Bruno’ is honestly the highlight of this movie, we hear four different perspectives throughout the song with Mirabel’s views making five.
Pepa and Felix’s opening sets the mood, we find that Bruno ruined their wedding day:
“Bruno says, "It looks like rain" (why did he tell us?) In doing so, he floods my brain Abuela, get the umbrellas Married in a hurricane What a joyous day! But anyway”
The dances moves and teleportation to that flashback fit so well, and even though they’re singing about such a negative experience the music is bouncy and memorable and you can’t help but sway along.
My favourite part of the song comes from Camilo, his gift is to shape-shift, and he uses that ability to make his section visually stunning. The deep greens highlighting his figure while cast in the dark works so well to convey Bruno as a creep, almost making you think he’s the villain of the movie.
The accompanying lyrics:
“A seven-foot frame, rats along his back When he calls your name it all fades to black Yeah, he sees your dreams and feasts on your screams”
Just stick in your head for days and easily stands out against the others towards the ending of the song.
Now I won’t go into too much detail about the lead up to the ending, but I do have to say one thing; it felt quite predictable.
From seeing more of Bruno’s vision to rebuilding the house, you could see it coming from a mile away. The movie just sort of missed the mark for me.
The buildup to this moment of finding out what Mirabel must do to save the house was great, but when we get the reveal that she just needs to hug someone...not so great.
Sure, this movie doesn’t need a big fight and in reality, there is no villain in this movie, but I just wish we saw something a little bigger than what we got.
Also, more screen time for the other members of the family would have been great. I loved seeing Isabela and Luisa’s struggles and insecurities, but I would’ve also loved to have seen Camilo’s or Dolores’.
If someone had the power to shape-shift, would they not have an identity crisis at some point? Dolores can hear everything, would that not influence keeping secrets, like we know she does?
I’m not saying I needed thirty minutes of the movie addressing it, but maybe put a brief spotlight on those kinds of moments or maybe even a Disney+ short will work just as well.
Encanto is the best movie to come out since Tangled back in 2010, not counting Pixar movies. The characters are fun, every song is just amazing, even the ones that I think are lackluster are still miles ahead of some other Disney brands.
The animation is spectacular as always, I love the way that songs allow the animators to really be creative and just do whatever they want.
It’s definitely a must watch!
Encanto gets 4 out of 5 candles from me.
Encanto is now streaming on Disney+