Encanto review: Disney, Lin-Manuel Miranda delivers a musical masterpiece
Encanto, Disney’s newest animated film, is a fantastic musical – exactly the sort of thing that has made the studio famous for the past 80+ years. But while the film uses a typical Disney setup of a misfit youngster who finds her way into the world, it focuses on a tighter, more contained story than previous Disney films, and it’s one of the more films. more emotionally captivating Disney’s Revival Era. Of Zootopia directors Byron Howard and Jared Bush, with a script by Bush and playwright Charise Castro Smith, and music by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Encanto is a masterpiece that skyrockets the Disney music formula with a touch of magic.
[Ed. note: This piece contains some light setup spoilers for Encanto.]
Mirabel Madrigal (Stephanie Beatriz) is the only member of her family who has not been given a special ability. Each madrigal has a unique power, from super strength to metamorphosis, which was given to them by the magical family home when they came of age. With the exception of Mirabel, every Madrigal opened a new door that the house created just for them and received an ability that they then used to help their community.
All madrigals look to the matriarch of the Abuela Alma family (María Cecilia Botero) for advice. However, without any power of her own, Mirabel struggles to impress her stern grandmother. On the evening of her young cousin’s gift ceremony, Mirabel notices that the house begins to shake, as cracks appear in its walls. When she alerts her family, however, the house seems fine and stable. But Mirabel, sure to have seen something wrong, sets out to find out what is wrong and, ultimately, to save the family magic.
While magic is certainly a fun and important part of Encanto, the film is above all about complex family ties. The potential for the Madrigals’ magic to vanish is the catalyst that drives Mirabel on her quest, but every clue she finds brings her back to her family. Magic is a metaphor, in a way that goes deeper than previous Disney movies.
The ability of each character is more or less correlated with the role they play in the family. For example, Mirabel’s older sister, Isabela (Diane Guerrero), is the perfect golden child, and she makes flowers bloom with a simple wave of her hand. Too emotional, Tía Pepa (Carolina Gaitán) prepares storms every time she gets angry. So when Mirabel searches for the cause of the threat, she’s not there to confront an infamous villain, or even a traitor in the midst of her idyllic community. She must question her relationships with her family in order to find the root of the problem.
Disney animated films have historically pitted daring heroes against scheming villains, but this is a new kind of story, where conflict stems from real family storylines that happen to be magnified by magic. Recent Disney movies have moved away from classic cackling villains in favor of more nebulous threats, but those threats were still presented as big and bad things to be conquered. In Encanto, the threat is smaller and more specific, which shifts the story from that typical good versus evil dynamic to something more grounded. The use of animation, magic, and music to explore more complex and relevant themes points to an exciting new direction for Disney.
In order to balance the large distribution, the Encanto The team cleverly removes extra characters, elaborate settings, and cute animal sidekicks. (There are a few cute animals, but they don’t requisition scenes.) The focus is on a family, in a house, facing a specific problem. But that doesn’t make the movie any less complex than the Disney movies that roam multiple locations, like Judy and Nick roam Zootopia, or those with devious villains, like Frozenit’s Hans.
In fact, because it’s so tightly focused on Madrigals, the complicated family dynamics – including Mirabel’s relationships with her loved ones and their relationships with each other – has more room for more comprehensive explorations. . This is a story about family members who love each other, but cannot fully understand each other, leading to beautifully realistic interactions built around affection, expectation and dysfunction, all reinforced by the magical metaphor woven throughout.
The family story is strong in itself, but the visuals and music help the film reach new heights. Gifts from the Madrigal family lend themselves perfectly to stunning visuals, such as the elaborate pocket sizes that family members use as rooms in the house, or the physical manifestations of their powers. These fancy splashes are particularly effective compared to Mirabel’s relatively small and simple room and her car without completely normal electricity.
But even without the magic, the Madrigal home is lovingly rendered with specific details, from the tiles to the family dining set, that add to the coziness of home and closeness to family. Additionally, each member of the family has a distinct character design, from the super strong Luisa (Jessica Darrow), with her protruding muscles, to the cousin Dolores (Adassa), who has great hearing, and therefore moves on the floor. tiptoe like a cautious cat. It’s a family where everyone seems related, even though they don’t look like exact clones of each other. (Cough, Frozen, cough.)
When it comes to music, all of the songs are contagious and catchy, but they all serve important storytelling purposes as well. While Disney does a lot of musicals, not all of them use music this way (cough, Frozen troll song, cough). But from the start, the music in Encanto is deliberate. The first song, for example, introduces each member of the Madrigal family and their powers, personalities and what Mirabel thinks of them, with an infectious Latino pop beat and quick lyrics that set the scene much like the opening song. of Hamilton.
Disney has repeatedly returned to the journeys of brave, bright-eyed heroes and protagonists gazing at the horizon, dreaming of adventure or romance. Encanto It’s not that. It’s something new and dynamic: a film about parents who love each other very much, but who find it difficult to understand each other. It’s a film about trying to keep a legacy, a film about a misfit who just wants to make her grandmother proud. It’s a movie where saving the day doesn’t mean traveling through a magical land or defeating a villain. But above all, it is a film about the family where the hero does not leave alone and must rather look inside to fill these family relationships. It’s a rare Disney movie talking a family but it’s also In regards to family.
Encanto hits theaters on November 24.