- Jared Bush, Byron Howard, Charise Castro Smith
- Run Time
- 1 hour and 42 minutes
VP Content Ratings
- Sex & Nudity
- Star Rating
For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, 5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. 6 We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us...
This time Disney transports us to the mountains of Columbia where the Madrigal family live in an enchanting village in called “the Encanto.” In a flashback that reflects the experience of thousands of Latinos, a large group of people is fleeing from violent forces that threaten them, among them the Madrigal family. They are saved by the heroic sacrifice of the father, the rest of his family transported by a magic candle that convey them to the hidden valley where they live in harmony with their neighbors in a magnificent house so magical that it becomes a character in the story.
Each Madrigal family member is bestowed a unique gift by the magic candle upon her or his fifth birthday when a door appears, the child opening it and receiving a new power that enables them to serve both their family and the villagers. Luisa (Jessica Darrow) receives the strength of a Superman, enabling her to move massive stones and masonry; Isabela (Diane Guerrero) can make plants grow and flowers bloom; Pepa (Carolina Gaitán) can control the weather, depending on her changing moods; Camilo (Rhenzy Feliz) is a shape shifter born to entertain; Dolores (Adassa) has such keen ears that she easily picks up the news and gossip of the villagers; and Bruno (John Leguizamo) can see the future, but nobody talks about him since he disappeared, estranged from the family. The house responds to each member, its floorboards and floor tiles rising up and down to transport whatever they need. In one quick shot the floor turns into a treadmill so that Luisa can engage in a jogging exercise!
However, none of these is the center of our story. It is the teenaged Mirabel (Stephanie Beatriz), and though pretty, she wears glasses (perhaps reminding us older viewers of Disney’s earlier heroines in contrast to her, created in the days when the saying was popular, “Guys don’t make passes with girls who wear glasses.” Come her fifth birthday Mirabel received—nothing. Her mother Julieta (Angie Cepeda) is gifted with the power to heal and to cook, but her daughter is the only one of the large family who is “ordinary,” thus giving rise to her feeling that she is an outsider. This is something that her grandmother, Abuela Alma (María Cecilia Botero), the formidable family matriarch, especially re-enforces as the fifth birthday of the youngest family member, Antonio (Ravi-Cabot Conyers) approaches. All but Mirabel use their gifts to get ready for the celebration. Her grandmother tells her to “stand aside.” Antonio’s big day arrives, and he receives the gift to talk with animals and thus tame them, even the mighty jaguar that shows up at the party, giving the boy a thrilling ride.
Soon after the party Mirabel sees cracks appearing in the house. frightened, she tells her grandmother, but the old woman brushes aside the girl’s fears. The cracks continue to appear to Mirabel so that she sets out on an adventure that will pit her against her beloved Grandmother, discover the whereabouts of her Uncle Bruno, and a host of other developments.
As a parable about gifts and the family, this is a splendidly colorful spectacle that is as beautiful to the eye as it is illustrative of the apostle Paul’s observance about the church and the various gifts of its members. In both film and Scripture, an individual gift’s is regarded as a means of building up family or church. Just watch and see how in clever and amusing ways the different gifts of the family members contribute to preparing for Antonio’s
fifth birthday party! And then, near the end, what a beautiful scene when the villagers gather around to support the Mirandas in their moment of need! (So much happens, so fast, especially in the rap-like songs—yet Latin rhythmed–of Lin-Manuel Miranda, that you will want to watch this film at least once more.
The brightly colored animation is eye-dazzling, the camera swooping high and low, in and out of trees, windows, and over the landscape. This is definitely another musical, with Miranda’s songs amply revealing the thoughts and feelings of the characters. The first thing I did after getting home from seeing the film was to go the website of Animation Songs where you can not only read the lyrics of the nine songs but see the clips for two of them (“The Family Madrigal” & “We Don’t Talk About Bruno”) as they appear in the film. What a wonderful way to study the lyrics, and then by playing the video, you can listen as you scroll down the lyrics.
I love it that animators have been transporting us into different countries and cultures the past few years, broadening our all-too narrow perspectives and understanding. And many of the voice talent are from Columbia, so there has been an attempt at cultural authenticity.
Families with children looking for lively entertainment for their little ones will be delighted with this extravaganza. There are probably too many characters and plot complexities for the youngest viewers to understand, but there is plenty of dancing, cute animals, bright colors, and tuneful songs to keep their attention. I noticed that the film fully occupied the attention of the little ones in the theater where I saw the film. Because of its values of family, love, and using gifts for the good of all, and the sense of community, the film will be on Visual Parables’ Top Ten list for the year.
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