Movie review: Encanto

Katherine Haden

With stunning animation, unforgettable songs, and important lessons, Encanto will warm your heart like a freshly made arepa con queso. This Disney film doesn’t entail a treacherous expedition, but instead is set almost entirely in the home, or Casita, of the Madrigal family, who use their magical gifts to help their lively Colombian town. Despite the objectively smaller scale, however, the stakes are still high: Mirabel, who often feels overlooked due to being the only Madrigal without magic, must find a way to save the Casita and everyone else’s magical gifts from disappearing, proving herself to her oft-critical Abuela along the way. Encanto’s ensemble cast is where the film really shines. All the characters are memorable, each with their own strengths and struggles, and it’s clear that there’s much more to them than what we get to see– it’s a shame that some of them don’t get much screentime, but it’s understandable with the time constraints of a feature-length film, and what we do get is brimming with potential for insight into their characters.

Not only are the characters complex, they’re also animated masterfully. Their movements are bouncy and lifelike; the vivid colors jump off the screen, like a warm hug you can look at. Lin Manuel-Miranda flexes his songwriting muscle with absolute head-boppers like “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” and strums the heartstrings with the longing ballad “Dos

The film’s message is pertinent in modern times, and will likely resonate with any kid who’s had to shoulder sky-high familial expectations. Encanto asserts that we have value not by what we can do, but simply by being who we are, in a resolution that admittedly feels slightly rushed–decades of generational trauma usually don’t just disappear in order for a movie to be tied up in a neat bow, after all–but is still deeply moving.