Critics’ Corner: Movie Review – Encanto

Matt Michailoff, Co-Clubs Editor, Sophomore

Many times the main ideas and storylines in animated movies can become lost and unclear. “Encanto,” an animated Disney movie musical, stays true to its roots and distinctively tells an important story. 

Set in a village in the mountains of Colombia, the movie starts off with the sentimental backstory of the intergenerational Madrigal family, slowly returning to the present day. Mirabel Madrigal (Stephanie Beatriz) is a 15-year-old girl living among a family of people who all have some kind of magical power, and therefore have a different purpose in the community. However, Mirabel is not given any magical ability and runs the course of the movie trying to find her place.

Despite the lack of any real antagonist, the conflict in the movie was greatly executed. Much of the conflict that arises is a result of Mirabel doubting herself and complaining which became repetitive at times. This was made up for, however, as the moments of conflict and arguments between characters were emotional and dramatic. Specifically, the fights between Mirabel and her sister Isabela (Diane Guerrero) or “Señorita Perfecta,” as she calls her. They weren’t groundbreaking, but they were done well.

One aspect of the movie that bothered me was the lack of development of Luisa(Jessica Darrow), one of Mirabel’s sisters. She has the ability of super-strength and, in turn, does lots of labor to serve the community. All of Luisa’s responsibilities become too much to handle as she belts out in “Surface Pressure.” After this point in the movie, we never really get to see her problems thoroughly resolved and her character fades into the background.

Mirabel is a relatable character in several ways. She is overwhelmed by the feeling of insignificance in a large family of such remarkable people. This feeling of being lost is greatly illustrated in “Waiting on a Miracle” as Mirabel weaves through her family members, pointing out how each one is special, but wondering where she fits in. I appreciated that instead of resenting everyone else out of jealousy, she lifts her family up and does everything she can to help the village. She has great character development and has become one of my favorite protagonists from Disney.

Disney has done a great job recently with representing different cultures in their films. The cultural details in Encanto weren’t over-exaggerated and they captured traditional aspects of Colombia well. The warm colors and lights, the decoration in the village, and the clothing that the characters wore were the perfect mix of authentic and magical. 

The soundtrack, written by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Germaine Franco, has very few flaws. Miranda has written the soundtracks of multiple movies that have come out this year and has done well with each. Most of the songs are upbeat and catchy, and I enjoyed that several songs are in Spanish, incorporating Latin instruments. “Colombia, Mi Encanto” and “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” are unique and lively.

Encanto premiered in theaters on November 24 and was released on Disney Plus for no additional cost on Christmas Eve.