The Madrigal family live in an enchanted home in the mountains of Columbia. Each child in the house is bestowed with a magical ability once they come of age – that is except for Mirabel (Stephanie Beatriz), who tries to help around as much as possible, though she is ordinary. When the magic of their home comes under threat, Mirabel takes it upon herself to save the day.
‘Encanto’ is so immediately colourful, vibrant and dynamic, that you know right away that Disney are onto another winner. The opening song introduces the Madrigal family as Mirabel explains how everyone is related, and who has what power or “gift.” Lin-Manuel Miranda has produced another terrific soundtrack with songs that delight, or even bring you to tears, with catchy lyrics that’ll have you wanting to sing along in no time.
It’s a movie about community and generosity as well as family, as the Madrigals use their gifts to be of service to the local town. In this regard, the song “Surface Pressure” is a phenomenal number, relating the strain of taking on too much, being terrified of letting people down, and feelings of worthlessness if you can’t do it all. Thus ‘Encanto’ continues that Disney trend of producing works that are both magical and highly relatable. The song “Waiting on a Miracle” also breaks your heart, as Mirabel sings about being surrounded by exceptionalism, desperate for it to be her turn to be special.
The film integrates a refugee narrative too that is subtle enough as to be lost on little ones, but it’s worthwhile for parents to discuss with their children after the film what it means. It never goes too dark though, and between the manic Bruno (voiced by John Leguizamo), spoilt sister Isabela (Diane Guerrero), moody aunt Pepa (Caroline Gaitán) and adorable Antonio (Ravi-Cabot Conyers), the biggest takeaway from this film is its characters, who you’ll no doubt want to revisit after the credits roll.
‘Encanto’ has a couple of plot holes, and a stronger first than second half, so it might not have quite leapt the bar that the House of Mouse has set. Still, it’s a magical adventure that’s impossible not to be moved and exhilarated by. Watch it with your family and then give them a big group hug after.