Encanto Review

Ada Green and Dionne Peterson

An enchanting tale with hit songs and striking visuals, Disney’s Encanto took audiences by storm on November 24 with a unique and vivid Colombian story. Encanto follows the Madrigals, a family given unique magical gifts after a devastating tragedy—other than fifteen-year-old Mirabel. The movie follows Mirabel, born with no apparent gift, and tries her hardest to fit in with her family’s extraordinary powers under her Abuela’s reproachful eyes. When Mirabel finds herself amidst the mystery of her family’s magic, she must go on a mission to find the truth and to “save the miracle.”

Encanto ultimately incorporated the essence of Colombian culture into this movie. The vast production team—including three directors and six writers—went on a research trip to Colombia to get a feel for the setting. “We knew that if we were going to tell a story that was inspired by Colombia, we wanted it to feel true,” said writer Charise Castro Smith. The movie also stars twelve Colombian actors as the twelve Madrigal family members.

Encanto’s original story breaks convention on many accounts. One is the character Luisa Madrigal, Mirabel’s older sister. Like Superman, the Hulk, and Hercules, Luisa has the power of super-strength, which is usually never portrayed to a female character. She feels burdened by her family because of her strength and sings “Surface Pressure.”

The songs in this film are in a league of their own. Composed by the legendary Lin-Manuel Miranda—who also wrote the songs for Moana, In the Heights, and Hamilton—Encanto features eight original Colombian-inspired songs.

Along with “Surface Pressure” came the hit song of the movie, “We Don’t Talk About Bruno,” which has over 170 million views on Youtube. It has a unique tango vibe, having a mix of Broadway and Latin American influence. As passionate movie watchers, we thoroughly enjoyed Encanto, although it does differ from previous Disney movies in the storyline, character design, and music. In Encanto, there seems to be no “bad guy” that the main character must defeat for a happily ever after. Instead, this unknown mysterious force is diminishing the Casita and the Madrigals’ powers.

Another significant change is the character design. In many Disney princess movies, we see the classic princess mold that seems to fit each Disney princess in standards such as they must be gorgeous and have a prince to save them. Mirabel, short with glasses, does not seem to fit the criteria on the outside. Instead, Mirabel’s older sister, Isabella, fits into this sculpt, from which she learns to break free.

Disney has branched out with this movie’s theme. There isn’t a villain in the story, as the challenge Mirabel must overcome is the discord within her own family. Everybody can relate to having an “imperfect” family where nobody gets along all the time. Encanto inspires watchers, young and old, to make a difference in their lives by working through family problems and being kind.