‘Encanto’ is a charming movie that could have been spectacular

With Disney movies back in theatres, is it enough to capture the magic with this latest release?

Promotional+photo+for+Encanto

Promotional photo for “Encanto”

By Sierra Thornton

With Thanksgiving weekend came the long awaited onslaught of movie releases, especially from studio conglomerate, the Walt Disney Company. Last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, audiences sadly got no new films, in or out of theatres. As many know, the lockdowns pushed families to streaming services in search of entertainment, with Disney+ being one of the main players. Exclusively in theaters, can “Encanto” pull audiences away from couches and into theatre seats?

The movie centers around the Madrigals, a Colombian family with a special secret that interests their whole village. Ranging from super hearing to predicting the future, both the Madrigals and the physical house are enchanted with supernatural powers. Everyone in the family, except for the protagonist, Mirabel, has these special abilities. This is revealed at the end of the musical number titled “The Family Madrigal.”

In flashbacks taking place before the timeline of the film’s plot, the head of house, Abuela Alma, received the very first power at a river while her village was under attack. A “blessing” came down and transferred itself into a candle, which would then remain lit and eventually transfer magic powers onto the family and their house. From then on, once a family member reaches a certain age, a door will appear and give them a room to complement their new-found ability. Since Mirabel lacks an ability, she is forced into the house’s nursery.

The main story starts off when Mirabel’s youngest relative, her cousin Antonio, receives his gift: the ability to understand and talk to animals. The entire village celebrates this occasion in Antonio’s new room, which is a big and luxurious rainforest. After a while, they decide to take a family picture, excluding Mirabel. She then internally freezes the situation to sing the second number entitled “Waiting On A Miracle.” Each shot is beautiful and vibrant in its color palette.

After the song is finished and the family photo is taken, Mirabel notices some odd happenings in the house, and is dismissed by those around her. Later, she suspects that her older sister Luisa has seen them as well. Being confronted by Mirabel, Luisa sings her own song about feeling familial pressures in the next musical number, “Surface Pressure.” The song itself is extremely emotional but upbeat, with the optimism of the tempo and pessimism in the lyrics clashing with one another. Following this, Mirabel sees that her cousin Bruno’s last vision is that she would either destroy or save her family in events to come.

Several smaller plotlines distract for its runtime, but the plot accelerates as the house and candle flame are mysteriously eradicated. With the family’s powers gone and the home destroyed, Mirabel escapes to the place where the magic all started: at the river where Abuela Alma received her power. After learning more of the backstory from her Abuela, the two grow close and get to work on repairing the house with help from the family and village people. Soon, Mirabel is able to install her own door to the house and it springs back to life, bringing back the family’s powers. The final shot of the film is a family photo that includes Mirabel, smiling and finally feeling a part of the family.After leaving the theater with my friends, we all agreed to rate the film three stars. No one loved the movie nor did anyone hate it with a passion. It was a quite forgettable film, with all of us shrugging it off and going about our day immediately after.

I would describe the movie is being akin to a Disney animated short, just longer. The premise is cute but there was not much substance beyond the beautiful animation. Compared to other recent films from Disney, the songs are not as catchy and much of the film is forgotten even a few hours after viewing. If you want a “fun-in-the-moment” movie, then this might be the one for you. If you want a film that will impact your life in the long run, you might want to skip this one.

Sierra Thornton can be reached at [email protected].