Verdict: Encanto tells a feel-good story that looks and sounds gorgeous, but it feels quite slight in comparison to other Disney animations

  • Stephanie Beatriz
  • November 24th 2021
  • Byron Howard and Jared Bush

Disney’s latest animated musical tells the story of a Colombian family with magical powers.

Following on from his success writing songs for Moana, Lin-Manuel Miranda has reunited with Disney to write numbers for its latest musical Encanto.

The animation tells the story of the Madrigal family, who live in a magical house powered by a magic candle.

Each family member is blessed with a unique gift – such as super-strength or beauty – by the candle when they turn a certain age – except for Mirabel (voiced by Stephanie Beatriz), who didn’t get one for some unknown reason and feels like an outsider within her own family.

When it seems like the magic of the Encanto is in danger, Mirabel decides that she, as the only ordinary Madrigal, might be her family’s last hope.

Encanto tells a heartfelt, charming tale about the importance of family and embracing your uniqueness, and while it’s a worthy message and the film’s heart is in the right place, you can’t help but feel the story is a bit too lightweight.

The film is micro in scale compared to other Disney animated outings and some viewers may have expected more to happen. Also, the story became a bit too sentimental towards the end.

Disney continues to take big steps in terms of representation with Encanto, which features all-Latinx characters and voices.

Earlier this year, Miranda was accused of colourism with the movie adaptation of his musical In the Heights – darker-skinned Latinx people didn’t feel represented – but that’s not the case here as there are many different skin tones onscreen, as well as an interracial couple, who are treated like no big deal.

Encanto‘s greatest strength is the visuals. The film looks stunning; every frame is so vibrant and colourful and full of life, while that’s closely followed by the music.

The music gets off to a great start with the catchy The Family Madrigal, which introduces the family members and their respective gifts and features Miranda’s signature vocal gymnastics – but admittedly only a couple of the numbers are particularly memorable. However, the score is full of energy and foot-tapping beats that will make you want to dance.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine star Beatriz is well cast as the outsider Mirabel, who puts on a positive, upbeat front but feels inferior and unworthy compared to her seemingly flawless siblings.

She has solid support from John Leguizamo as Uncle Bruno, the dark sheep of the family, as well as Diane Guerrero, Wilmer Valderrama and Maluma.

So ultimately, while Encanto tells a feel-good story that looks and sounds gorgeous, it feels quite slight in comparison to other Disney animations and might leave viewers wanting more.

In cinemas from Wednesday 24th November.

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