‘Encanto’ Review: Disney’s Latest Masterpiece

Caroline Calvert

-Before reading this article, beware of mild spoilers-

When I sat down on Christmas Eve to watch Disney’s new blockbuster, Encanto, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Movie critics certainly have not been easy on the film, even going so far as to say that it’s “blandly frictionless.” After sobbing my eyes out a countless number of times during the film’s run, I couldn’t disagree more. 

We follow the magical Madrigal family, who have been granted a miracle in the form of a powerful candle. This miracle sustains a sentient house in which the family resides within Colombia, as well as granting each family member a “gift” when they reach the age of five. That is, every member except for Mirabel. The hardworking fifteen-year-old was never granted a gift and is often pushed aside by her own kin. Determined to prove her worth, Mirabel is constantly going above and beyond to help her fellow Madrigals no matter what it takes. However, no matter how hard she works, Mirabel is almost always overshadowed by her magical siblings. 

The Latino representation that Encanto provides is vital within the media today. The diverse Madrigals’ hair ranges from corkscrew curly to pin straight, the skin tones from dark to light. Encanto manages to avoid the pervasive media trope of model immigrants. Along with their abilities, each member has flaws that help shape more rounded personalities. Even after temporarily losing their powers, the Madrigals still belong as a part of the community. They don’t have to be able to talk to animals or shapeshift to be valued by those around them.

The familial dynamics within Encanto can be related to almost any family, which gives this film its unique charm. Magical realism, a new frontier for Disney, is something that sets apart Encanto from its fantastical predecessors. The Madrigals’ powers only highlight their relationships and their individual desires, giving light to the often-overlooked internal battles many of us face within our own families. This grounded approach to otherwise otherworldly superpowers is what gives Encanto its distinctive appeal.

What made this film all the more special was its musical score. Lin-Manuel Miranda has once again created an enchanting soundtrack, which combines traditional instrumentation from Colombia with modern salsa and bachata elements. The music, paired with the vibrant colors and smooth animation, creates a lively, entertaining atmosphere. These unshakeable melodies will have any viewer enthralled within seconds, begging for a sequel.

It’s not the minimal action or absence of a villain that defines this movie. It’s the believable family dynamics and dialogue that make so many people feel seen and accepted. Encanto urges viewers to not base their worth on their abilities, but rather on their existence. The sole fact that you exist is enough, which is a message many forget.