Disney’s ‘Encanto’ is spellbinding

Mirabel Madrigal is the only person in her family who does not have a magical ability.

Main character Mirabel receives a sympathy gift basket because she is the only one in her family who does not have a magical gift.

Released to U.S. theaters Nov. 24, animated Disney movie “Encanto” takes the viewer on a colorful journey through the story of a magically gifted family. 

As the inciting incident, Mirabel sees a startling vision that confirms the worst: the Madrigal family is losing its magic. 

Mirabel decides that she will take on the responsibility of restoring magic back to her family. 

Unlike most animated children’s movies, Mirabel does not embark on a long journey to save the family’s magic. Instead, she stays right at home.

This choice is effective because the heart of this movie lies with the characters. 

Instead of focusing on a grand quest, “Encanto’ chooses to hone in on the smaller moments.

However, the first act was a few scenes too long, creating a slow start. This made the middle feel rushed by comparison. 

While the movie is about an enchanted family, it still feels grounded and relatable. This aligns with the overall theme of the movie. 

The message of “Encanto” is clear: you are more than the expectations your family places on you. 

This message is enhanced by the movie’s visuals. 

Character expressions are subtle but impactful, adding to the depth of each emotional moment. 

All of the characters were clearly designed with care. There is so much detail in each character’s clothing and hair, and the way Mirabel’s dress flows is stunning. 

The setting is alive with beautifully rendered tropical plants.

Each musical number was accompanied by creative, engaging scenes that illustrated the meaning of the song. The musical numbers hearken back to iconic Disney moments, like the “Be Our Guest” number in ‘Beauty and the Beast” or the “Friend Like Me” scene in “Aladdin.” 

While the movie has strong visuals, I have mixed feelings about the songs themselves. 

In most cases, I felt like the songs didn’t fit the voice actor’s voice, so they felt awkward and forced.

While I loved the beat of the song “Under the Surface,” I was taken out of the moment by how out of place the actress’s voice seemed. 

I was most impressed by the song “We Don’t Talk About Bruno’ because of the clever lyrics and the way it introduced exposition.

Despite not falling in love with the music, I did find myself humming the songs under my breath later.

The rest of the score was beautiful. 

Spanish pieces combined with instrumentals highlighted the emotional moments in the movie, adding to the immersion.

I left the theater feeling connected to the emotional core of the movie. 

I like the new direction Disney and Pixar have been going toward lately with their movies. With movies like “Moana”, “Luca” and “Soul”, the production companies have been making an effort to tell stories about a variety of cultures and protagonists, and “Encanto” is no different.

The large variety of skin tones, body types and hair textures was great to see. It only added to the character of each scene.

Overall, ‘Encanto” is a movie with authentic conflict, effective messaging, and beautiful visuals.