Movie Review: Encanto

SPOILER ALERT: Disneys new take on magic and mental health

Since 1937, Disney has been making record breaking films. Since their first release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the franchise has only grown to become more popular and find a place very close to many of our hearts. 

One of their newest editions, Encanto, fits right into the Disney world of films. 

From silly little jokes, to emotional trauma carried just far enough below the surface that children can not understand it yet, these Disney tips and tricks make their movies enjoyable for not only the little ones, but for the adults that are forced to watch them on repeat. 

Encanto starts with a musical introduction of the Madrigal family. This beautifully-written  song teaches us a little about each character. This is also what leads us to find out that the Madrigal family has powers.

Shortly after Maribel, song singer and main character, finishes her lyrics, we are told that she is the only Madrigal without powers. This doesn’t phase her though. She believes “the truth is, Gift or no Gift, I am just as special as the rest of my family,” Mirabel states.

After a few short events, Mirabel believes she sees Casita (the house) falling apart and rushes to tell Abuela. When they return, “There is nothing wrong with La Casa Madrigal. The magic is strong and so are the drinks,” Abuela states.

After talking to other Madrigals and searching for answers, Mirabel is told the magic could be dying. This leads her on a hunt to find her long lost uncle, Bruno, who had a vision regarding the magic and Mirabel before he disappeared. “We don’t talk about Bruno” is another great song element in this movie that was sung.

Oddly enough, she finds Bruno living in the walls of Casita. 

“Yeah, my gift wasn’t helping the family, but, uh, I love my family, you know?” stated Bruno. 

Mirabel refuses to give up and convinces Bruno to have another vision to help her save the family’s magic.

Bruno has another vision and Mirabel isn’t impressed with what she sees. 

“Isabela? Why would embracing Isabela do anything? It’s not gonna work. She won’t hug me ever, okay? She hates me! Also, I don’t know if you heard, I ruined her proposal! Plus, P.S…she is just annoying. Of course it’s Isabela! What’s her problem with me anyway? She’s the one with roses coming out of her…,” Mirabel complains. 

So, dreadfully Mirabel sets off to “embrace” her “perfect” sister Isabella as her uncle advised her to do. After an argument leads to a new discovery, Mirabel and Isabela embrace and the candle that holds Family Madrigal’s magic begins to shine brighter. So, that should be it right? Wrong.

Abuela, who has held a strong grudge against Mirabel the whole movie, comes and ruins the moment. This leads to Casita falling apart, Mirabel feeling as if she failed the family and running away. After searching for Mirabel for a while, Abuela comes to find her and then apologizes.

 “You never hurt our family, Mirabel. We are broken… because of me,” Abuela admits.

The town that Family Marigal has sworn to serve with their gifts then comes together and helps rebuild everything that has broken. 

Overall, this is a movie that can be watched and enjoyed by people of any age, but it leaves viewers with a lot of questions. Such as, who sent the magic candle (the miracle)? Why didn’t Mirabel get a gift? Why did Abuela mistreat Mirabel? If Mirabel doesn’t have a gift, why can she still control Casita? Does Mirabel actually have a hidden gift?

Although those questions may never be solved, the artists of this film paid very close attention to detail. Whether it be the movement of every character, including Casita, Bruno’s presence creeping in the background of scenes or the fine points of the colors and clothing in the movie. The artists paid great respects to Colombian culture with this film as well. With Colombian actors and other great details such as traditional dress (the embroidered, ruffled tops, skirts, etc.) and the making of typical foods like the healing arepas that Mirabel’s mom, Julieta Madrigal, feeds the family and villagers.

Throughout this movie Mirabel, even though she’s treated like an outsider, continues to fight for her family. She’s the kind character that has many inspiring characteristics. This is a good movie to sit with children and conversate with them about. You can ask questions such as, why is embracing differences so important? Why did Mirabel work so hard to prove herself to the family? Should Mirabel have had to do that?

This film has many meaningful lessons that can be taken away from it. Whether it’s from the song “Surface Pressure” that Mirabel’s older sister, Luisa, sings and how you should always check on the people you care about, or how just because someone is different does notmean you should treat them unkindly, there’s many valuable lessons to learn behind the walls of Casita.

I personally believe the biggest take away from this movie is- everyone has gifts and things that make them different, what matters is how they decide to use them.

Encanto is currently streaming on Disney Plus and the soundtrack is available for listening on apps like Apple Music and Spotify.