By Trevor Tiemeyer, Staff Writer
Welcome to the next mainstream animated work by Lin-Manuel Miranda. Unfortunately, Miranda was unable to convince Disney to let him voice a character, let alone have a cameo.
As someone who really enjoys Miranda’s work, I was excited for Encanto, but I cannot help but feel let down. The music was composed well; however, the storyline and value of the songs are not fulfilling.
My biggest problem with the movie is the plot. I understand that not all movies need to follow the hero’s journey, but Encanto strays a little too far.
The climax and return occur within the last 10 minutes of the movie, leaving little time for any progress or actual development of character.
For starters, a lot of the interactions between the story’s main character Mirabel and her family make it seem as if they have never interacted before. The opening is excused due to the necessity of context for the plot. After that, it becomes difficult to believe.
I mean, do we really believe that Mirabel never noticed that Isabella was miserable being perfect or that Luisa was under tremendous pressure in her 15 years of existence?
She also speaks of Bruno as if she never knew him. However, Bruno confirms that he left after her gift ceremony. Yet, this happens when they turn five — so she had no interactions with Bruno during any of her first five years?
This is only one of the major flaws with the film. Another issue is the purpose of some songs. I love most of them, but others are just not pertinent.
Some of the songs are remarkable and move the plot of the story along effectively. “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” allows us to learn history about many of the main characters and the situation into which Bruno was placed. However, we do not understand the power of these words until we meet Bruno later.
On the other hand, there are songs like “Surface Pressure.” Although it is probably in my top three songs, it adds zilch to the story. The song is catchy and relatable, but it does not progress the plot. It is just there, being ineffective.
The movie is not all bad. It is one movie in the right direction for Disney. Cultural diversity and social issues are things that Disney has struggled with for years. Many people have shared their joy, for either themselves or their children, of having a Disney “princess” who resembles them.
Another well done point is the narrative’s moral: the importance of family. This is found in the juxtaposition from the first to last songs. It is first presented as: “This is my family, a perfect constellation; so many stars and everybody gets to shine.” This puts the emphasis on the character’s individual gifts, rather than the characters.
However, near the end, we get this line: “But the stars don’t shine, they burn. And the constellations shift. I think it’s time you learn, you are more than just your gift.” This grants us a heart-tugging message about the family and how much they have grown — over the course of two days, of course.
However, there is no explanation as to how the sudden growth occurs. Mirabel and Abuela hug, and everything is perfect? She now understands that she has emotionally gaslit her family for generations? And everyone is just OK with this? She has terrorized them for years, apologizes once and everything is just peachy?
I understand the need for a happy ending in a Disney movie, but it also gives children who are victims of that type of emotional trauma the idea that they need to be forgiving, and it permits any parent who relates to Abuela to think that they can just apologize and everything will be chill.
Don’t get me wrong, the movie was promising and has some good parts, but it concludes too fast.
I would have liked to see a conversation with the triplets and Abuela, specifically Bruno.
Overall, I would rate it a three out of five. It does its job as a stepping stone for diversity in Disney, but they still have a long way to go.