The Reel Review
Mirabel is the lone ordinary member of an extraordinary Colombian family whose members each possess various unique, magical powers. When cracks, both literal and figurative, appear in the household’s foundation, Mirabel decides she alone is the one to save her special family, in this Disney animated musical.
Mirabel’s lack of a magical gift makes her a bit of a misfit compared to family members whose powers include healing through food, superhuman strength, communicating with animals and the ability to create weather. The concepts are cute and the animation is the now trademark, Disney spectacular. Stephanie Beatriz (In the Heights, Q Force, Brooklyn Nine-Nine) is the voice of Mirabel, with a cast that includes Maria Cecilia Botero (La Bruja), John Leguizamo and Wilmer Valderrama.
But viewers expecting a heartfelt repeat of 2017’s Oscar winner Coco (which also topped The Reelness’ Best 10 Films of 2017) will be disappointed. The story itself is a confusing, hot mess – a mishmash of mediocrity showcasing shockingly uninspired songs from Lin-Manuel Miranda. The message, apparently about how life’s gifts can eventually become burdens, is lost in a wildly overproduced, incoherent story that frankly just doesn’t make much sense. It has the feel of a screenplay that was written by a committee. (It was.) Miranda’s clever, staccato rap lyrics that felt so fresh in Hamilton and only felt a tad bit stale in the 2021 musical In the Heights feel like a hard to follow, one trick pony in Encanto. While visually stunning, Encanto is a rare, unenchanting miss by Disney.
• Encanto marks the third collaboration between Lin Manuel Miranda and Stephanie Beatriz, after the 2013 TV series Brooklyn Nine-Nine and 2021’s In The Heights.
• Encanto contains several nods and themes of magical realism, typical of the works of Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Yellow butterflies are a recurring theme in his novel One Hundred Years of Solitude.
• Encanto‘s Mirabel is Disney’s 14th Princess, the first from South America and the first to wear glasses.