It can’t be stated enough, or maybe it has been but like I previously said in my Tick, Tick… Boom! Review, 2021 is Lin-Manuel Marinda’s year. Everything his hands have touched this year has been nothing short of brilliant. From his breakout Broadway hit In The Heights being adapted to the big screen by John M. Chu to his directorial debut of the story of Jonathan Larson to now with his musical genius embedded in Encanto. Lin-Manuel is batting 1000 right now and there’s no signs of slowing down with what he can do.
Just like Miranda, Disney animation doesn’t miss either, its rare if they do. Pixar aside, Disney animation studios this year alone has another hit – first was the beautifully stylistic Raya and the Last Dragon that transported us as the viewers to the mystical land of Kumandra. Encanto does the same – transports us to a beautifully animated land where magic is real, at least for 95% of the characters. Animation in Encanto is crisp and fresh, performances are all well-acted and sung as this is a hybrid comedy/musical and the story speaks to a culture that may not have been entirely represented before. Disney and Pixar have become more inclusive, allowing different groups of people get their voices heard.
Alma Madrigal (voiced by María Cecilia Botero) after losing her husband saves her children thanks to a magical candle that creates Casita for the family to live in. This special candle gives each member of the Madrigal family special gifts and abilities to help others who need assistance in the town surrounding Casita Madrigal. Everyone in the family has gifts – Julieta Madrigal (voiced by Angie Cepeda) can heal others with her cooking, Bruno Madrigal (voiced by John Leguizamo) can see the future, Pepa Madrigal (voiced by Carolina Gaitán) can control the weather based on her emotions. Isabela (voiced by Diane Guerrero) is considered perfect and can make flowers bloom anywhere and Luisa (voiced by Jessica Darrow) who has superhuman strength who carries the weight of the world with her biceps. The only member of the Madrigal family that doesn’t have powers is Mirabel (voiced by Stephanie Beatriz).
As a character Mirabel is the perfect character to be an underdog, she’s easily relatable and easy to root for. However, what she doesn’t realize is that even though she doesn’t have abilities like the rest of her family and even Casita, she is still special and important to her family – she still matters, even as an outcast on the outside looking in. We all feel that way – look at all the professional athletes, successful entrepreneurs, talented actors and actresses, we all wish we had that talent but just because we don’t, it doesn’t mean we aren’t special in our own ways. Encanto perfectly conveys that message in the 109-minute run time.
Lin-Manuel’s DNA is all over Encanto. Every song has his signature structure to them that made In The Heights & Hamilton worldwide phenomenon’s. His talent is on full display – each musical number is big and bold that pairs well with the animation style.
Mirabel as the main character isn’t the entire focus as emphasis is given to the supporting characters surrounding their abilities. Just because they have abilities doesn’t mean they can’t feel the pressure and weight of their responsibility. Luisa with all her strength feels the weight on her shoulders constantly struggling to put on a brave face while more gets added to her pile. Bruno is cursed by his visions and becomes an outcast because of it.
The family dynamic pops in Encanto. Relationships with one another, how close the Madrigal family is yet how distant, jealous, and cold they can be. Mirabel is jealous of her perfect sister but can’t see how perfect she is.
Encanto is another win for Disney animation – Its beautifully animated, full of charm and heart, has exceptional music and deep profound messages. Showcasing a culture that is steeped in mythology and belief, Encanto is just the feel-good film we needed during the holiday season as we all get back to a sense of normalcy. Direction, performances, cinematography all shine and are given the utmost importance centered around the Madrigal family. Lin-Manuel continues to outdo himself with his talent making Encanto’s music vastly different and unique from his other work. Encanto is a celebration of culture, history and music from start to finish.
Written By: Charise Castro Smith, Jared Bush, Byron Howard, Jason Hand, Nancy Kruse & Lin-Manuel Miranda
Directed By: Jared Bush & Byron Howard
Music By: Germaine Franco
Cinematography: Nathan Warner, Alessandro Jacomini & Daniel Rice
Starring: Stephanie Beatriz, Maria Cecilia Botero, John Leguizamo, Mauro Castillo, Jessica Darrow, Angie Cepeda, Carolina Gaitán, Diane Guerrero, Wilmer Valderrama
Release Date: November 24, 2021
Running Time: 1 Hour 49 Minutes
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%
My Score: 4 out of 5