Voice cast: Stephanie Beatriz, John Leguizamo, María Cecilia Botero, Diane Guerrero, Jessica Darrow, Angie Cepeda, Adassa, and Wilmer Valderrama.
Directors: Byron Howard and Jared Bush
Family is everything. Nothing is stronger than family. Do bear with me If I’m beginning to sound like a Vin Diesel meme. Because in Encanto, family really is everything.
Set in Colombia, Encanto revolves around the members of the Madrigal family, who live in a magical house and have special powers bestowed upon them by a magical candle that was gifted to family matriarch Abuela Alma Madrigal (voiced by María Cecilia Botero). Luisa (Jessica Darrow) has superstrength, Isabela (Diane Guerrero) can control flowers, Dolores (Adassa) has super hearing, Julieta’s (Angie Cepeda) cooking has healing powers, Bruno (John Leguizamo) can see the future… you get the idea, it’s a whole family of supers!
All except Mirabel Madrigal (Stephanie Beatriz), who somehow is the only one who didn’t get any powers. As she struggles to find her place in this magical family and find ways to contribute, she discovers that something is going wrong with the magic, and sets out to find the source.
Under the capable hands of directors Byron Howard and Jared Bush (who tween them have worked on past hits like Moana, Zootopia and Tangled), Encanto is another winner for Disney.
The visuals are colourful and joyful, the characters are vibrant and likeable, the voice cast is spot on and entertaining (Leguizamo’s Bruno is a standout here), and the story, which focuses mainly on the family dynamics of the Madrigals, is something that both adults and kids can relate to.
It’s the music that is the star of the show though. While many musical animated features tend to feel as though the songs are shoehorned into the story, Encanto weaves the tunes seamlessly into the fabric of the plot, serving not just as musical interludes to the story, but actually advancing and creating more depth into each character at the same time.
It helps that the original songs were composed by Lin-Manuel Miranda (Into The Heights, Hamilton), who has of course, worked with Disney before in Moana. Miranda was involved in the production process of Encanto from the very beginning, and his contribution to the flow of the story is apparent through the music.
One highlight is We Don’t Talk About Bruno, in which each character sings about not talking about the black sheep of the family, Uncle Bruno, and their various individual personalities get to shine, giving us further insight into the family dynamics of the Madrigals.
Part of the fun of Encanto is that although the entire movie is pretty much self-contained within the Madrigal residence, it opens up to magical worlds of wonder via the various family members’ rooms. There is a certain sense of wonder that is apparent throughout the entire film, and as Mirabel makes her way through the various ‘worlds’ of her siblings and other relatives, you keep wanting to see more of these worlds.
As Disney’s 60th animated feature, Encanto is another feather in the studio’s animated feature cap – a fun, vibrant watch with great music that the whole family can enjoy.