Movie Review: Encanto

The Madrigal family has been blessed with an incredible gift. While fleeing the violence of what is probably the Thousand Days’ War in Colombia, Alma (María Cecilia Botero) and Pedro Madrigal and their infant triplets are gifted a “miracle” candle, which never goes out, grants their children and their descendants magical powers, and creates a magical, sentient house named Casita for them to live in. After losing Pedro, Alma is left to tend to the family on her own as it continues to grow over the ensuing decades, along with the town that has sprung up around them.

But one of her grandchildren, Mirabel (Stephanie Beatriz), did not receive a special gift from the candle, and is just an ordinary girl. She struggles to fit in amid her superpowered family, especially with relating to her “perfect” sister Isabela (Diane Guerrero), but does have a strong bond with her young cousin Antonio (Ravi Cabot-Conyers) who she helped raise. On the night of the ceremony in which Antonio will receive his power, Mirabel has a vision of the house beginning to crack around her and the candle almost going out, but no one else believes her and she is instead left to try to figure out what it means before it’s too late for her family.

There are few movies made anymore that even attempt to capture the sense of wonder and joy that Encanto delivers in spades. Nearly every frame is bursting with swathes of vibrant color and gorgeous animation, with clever touches throughout. The way the house itself is given personality especially stands out. The songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda are catchy and clever and will have you smiling and tapping along (and likely have you streaming the soundtrack afterwards), with each lavishly staged in a way that is only possible in an animated movie. The message of learning to appreciate yourself and others for who they really are is hardly groundbreaking but is always good for children (and many adults) to see. Encanto may not bust out of the Disney formula too much, but as long as said formula is still capable of producing films that feel as memorable and magical as this, who’s complaining? ★★★★★

Rated PG for some thematic elements and mild peril.

★★★★★ = Excellent | ★★★★ = Very Good | ★★★ = Good | ★★ = Fair | ★ = Poor

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