Encanto: An Uncommonly Personal Musical Fantasy

4 out of 5 stars (One of the Best of the Year)

Encanto is an example of Disney working at the height of its power.  It’s a small story told with toe-tapping songs, humor, emotional honesty, and gorgeous animation.  I felt great joy watching a mainstream animated film tackle such issues as self-doubt, feeling out of place, generational pain, and realizing we all have something to offer the world in an accessible manner that made me laugh and cry in equal measure.  I hope we get more like Encanto.

Everyone in the Madrigal Family gains a special gift when they come of age… Execpt for Mirabel (Voiced by Stephanie Beatriz).  While everyone else received a superpower like strength, weather control, shape-shifting, etc, Maribel got squat in that department and thus feels awkward on the day another family member is set to get their gift.  However, when the Madrigal’s magical house starts cracking and people’s powers start disappearing, only Maribel can figure out what’s happening before the house and her family falls apart.

I love Encanto.  Whereas many recent Disney films have told grand, epic stories with world-ending stakes, this one instead tells a small one with very human-feeling characters going through problems that both kids and adults can relate to while making them laugh, cry, and dance.  The biggest takeaway is that everyone in life deals with problems behind closed doors, but various other themes are sprinkled in and will lead to good discussions afterwards.   The voice-work and animation are top-notch, the all-ages humor is well-inserted, and the emotional elements resonate strongly while still being understandable for kids.  Quick ending aside, this is one of Disney’s strongest outings and a welcome change of pace for a big studio blockbuster.  I hope to see more stories like that of Maribel Madrigal in the future.  Encanto’s refreshingly smaller-scale narrative, great songs, and endearing lead character and themes make it one of the year’s best outings.  See it on DisneyPlus

Rated PG for Rude Humor and Some Thematic Elements

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