Encanto Movie Enchants


The new animated Disney musical, Encanto, premiered in theaters on Nov. 24, 2021, and was then released to stream on Disney+ on Dec. 24, 2021. Encanto, a PG movie about a Colombian family with magical gifts, was a refreshing story complete with excellent songs, beautiful visuals and very lovable characters. Though the movie excelled in many ways, there were also some aspects of the film that could have been improved.


While many recent Disney releases are merely retellings of old stories, Encanto is different. Instead of trying to explain the backstory of a well-known fairytale character, Encanto tells the story of Mirabel Madrigal, the only person in her family without a fantastical gift. Mirabel struggles to feel like she belongs, while simultaneously trying to save her family from a potentially damaging prophecy. The story includes a whirlwind of adventure and a look into family dynamics, while also providing an excellent score for audiences to become hooked on.


Encanto features eight new songs, all written by Lin-Manuel Miranda. Of the eight songs, three are solo melodies exploring the experiences of each of Julietta Madrigal’s daughters – Mirabel, Luisa and Isabela. Each song provides insight into the various characters and their hopes and fears. Mirabel’s song, “Waiting on a Miracle,” is all about how Mirabel just wants to feel connected to the rest of her family and asks for a chance to prove her worth. It is a sad but hopeful song complete with beautiful animation to accompany the song’s message of longing. “Surface Pressure” is the song sung by Mirabel’s older sister, Luisa, who is the middle child. The song is an intense number, all about the immense pressure Luisa feels coming from the Madrigal family’s expectations that accompany her gift of strength. Luisa reveals to Mirabel that she feels like she isn’t worth anything without her gift, and that she doesn’t think she can manage all of the burdens put on her. The song shares a message that is relatable to many, especially women who are older sisters. “Surface Pressure” has been used across social media as a way for women to share the pressures they feel and seek comfort in the similarities found in others’ experiences. Isabela’s song, “What Else Can I Do,” is an ode to discovering yourself. Isabela, gifted with the ability to create plants, sings to Mirabel about how she wishes to break free of the expectations that she has to be perfect and beautiful. Isabela creates unique and imperfect plants throughout her song to demonstrate this change in how she wants to be perceived. 


The other 5 songs are also notable, especially “We Don’t Talk About Bruno.” This song, sung by a lot of the cast, has blown up on social media. In the song, the Madrigal family explain to Mirabel why they don’t mention Bruno, Mirabel’s uncle who disappeared years before. The song is catchy and includes solos from many of the older family members. It also displays the family’s various magical gifts, providing the audience with intriguing graphics to go along with the catchy tune. The song was very well received by audiences, and led to lots of fan art, cosplay and covers of the song to be shared on many social media platforms. 


Although Encanto is notable for its unique soundtrack and fun array of characters, its use of time and character prioritization are in need of improvement. The movie has been accused of being slow paced, as the viewers don’t get to see the conflict of the film until past the halfway mark. Though character introductions and world-building are crucial parts of telling a good story, those introductory sections shouldn’t take up half of the movie. Also, the story focuses a lot of its time on Mirabel and her Abuela, while the rest of the cast have much less time in the spotlight. It’s understandable that Mirabel, the main character, should have a lot of focus on her throughout the movie, but Abuela Alma is arguably the worst character in the movie. She constantly forces her family members into boxes, making them believe they don’t deserve to be happy or follow their dreams. She gaslights Mirabel about the fact that they’re losing their magic, even though she’s well aware that is the truth of the matter. Despite that, Abuela Alma is the only character who’s backstory is shown. Viewers see snippets of Mirabel’s childhood and Bruno before he disappeared, but Abuela Alma’s story is shown multiple times and has an entire song devoted to showing her past. Fan favorite characters, like Camilo, Dolores and Bruno, are barely featured in the movie at all. Camilo and Dolores get short solos in the song “We Don’t Talk About Bruno,” and Bruno has one full scene with Mirabel as well as a small solo in the song “All of You.” However, many fans would have appreciated more songs featuring the three favorites. A duet between Camilo and Dolores had been especially requested.

Overall, Encanto is a beautiful movie with many positive aspects, even despite its few flaws. While some background characters should have been more represented, and the film should have moved at a much quicker pace, Encanto is definitely worth a watch for any Disney fan.