So I watched Encanto…
I’ve always been a fan of animated Disney films, especially their latest offerings. They’ve ditched the cliche idea that every Princess’ story needs to end in the arms of some devishly handsome blonde. Furthermore, they’ve consistently committed to telling diverse stories and having these diverse characters brought to life by appropriate actors. However, while they do bring these great qualities to this film, overall it just doesn’t have that Disney magic.
Okay, basic plot: Mirabel (Stephanie Beatriz) is a fifteen year old teenager who belongs to the magical Madrigal family. A family who is granted special powers through the magic of the family candle which sustains the family’s house and the surrounding village. Mirabel, however, did not receive any special powers and this has always made her feel like an outcast to her family. When the magic that powers the family begins to falter, Mirabel is the only one who can save the family and her lack of a special power turns out to be her greatest gift.
I don’t often say this about a Disney movie but this movie just didn’t feel special. It’s lacking the usual magic that all Disney films seem to be born with. The film’s biggest problem is that it suffers from an incredibly weak script. The plot that this film decides to build its foundation on isn’t strong enough to carry the film or the emotional weight it aims to deliver. The film at its core is about a young heroine challenging the ideals set forth by her family and setting on her own path. Sound familiar? It should because it’s the quintessential subplot in EVERY Disney movie ever. Moana, had to break free of her father’s wishes for her to be Chief and became an explorer. Elsa, broke free of her family’s ridiculous attempts to conceal her powers, embraced them and became a powerful queen. Mulan, didn’t settle with her family’s expectations of her becoming a stereotypical housewife and became a war hero who saved China. It’s a common thread in all Disney films but it isn’t the main thread in the tapestry of the story.
Usually there’s a grander adventure or far reaching goal that needs to be achieved but in Encanto, things feel too low-key. There are stakes but the odds that need to be overcome seem insignificant. Mulan fought an army of Huns. Moana travelled across the sea and battled a volcanic demon. Ariel left her home behind and battled a seawitch. Mirabel…asked her family how they’re doing – spoiler alert. Now trust me, I know how difficult it can be to deal with family but the challenges she’s faced pale in comparison to her peers. This lack of action and insurmountable odds that need to be conquered just left me feeling bored and underwhelmed.
Another disappointing element of the film was the music. The songs are fun, quirky and as wonderfully creative as you would expect from songs created by the mind of Lin-Manuel Miranda. However, the songs don’t feel like they flow organically from the story and have a tacked on feeling. It’s just indicative of what I didn’t like about this film – it’s made up of great components but they don’t gel together well to make a coherent product.
Overall, Encanto just didn’t work for me. I might be alone in this opinion considering its recent Oscar success but I stand by my thoughts. It didn’t resonate with me and while I continue to love diversity in film, the overall quality of this movie is not at the high standard that Disney has set for itself. 5/10