Encanto (2021)
November 28, 2021 6:00 PM - Subscribe

The tale of an extraordinary family, the Madrigals, who live hidden in the mountains of Colombia, in a magical house, in a vibrant town, in a wondrous, charmed place called an Encanto. The magic of the Encanto has blessed every child in the family with a unique gift from super strength to the power to heal every child except one, Mirabel. But when she discovers that the magic surrounding the Encanto is in danger, Mirabel decides that she, the only ordinary Madrigal, might just be her exceptional family's last hope.
posted by jenfullmoon (31 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I really liked this, but I think it's a little unclear in parts as to what is going on. Like I made my mom go and she asked what happened afterwards. Sadly I don't think this is going to be a big hit, but it looked gorgeous (I WANT MIRABEL'S OUTFIT and Isabela's too) and was really affecting on me emotionally.

I'm a fast-paced person, but the opening song went so fast (felt faster than Guns and Ships!) that even I couldn't keep up, so here's the genius.com page on it.

I BUSTED OUT IN TEARS (not something I normally do at movies unless a mom dies) during "Waiting For A Miracle," I felt so bad for her being a nothingburger in this family. That poor girl trying to be cheerful about the whole thing, not point it out, not feel bad, and then gets left out of the photo...

And Luisa's song was incredibly affecting that I want her to get her own sequel. I wanted to hug her too during that. I did think Isabela looked like she'd discovered Holi during hers. I vaguely wonder if she's coded gay if she didn't want to marry that bohunk--but I'm happy Dolores got him since she wanted him.

So was Mirabel's power a house-based thing? It seems like she finally opened her own magical door once the house was rebuilt. I'm not sure if the house responded to everyone like it did her, but it did clearly try to support her throughout the movie, especially "Get me up there!" and sheltering her as it broke down around her. Maybe that's her gift, house maintenance? That's the other thing I thought was a little unclear about the movie.

Anyway, I really liked it and thought it was very sweet.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:53 PM on November 28, 2021 [3 favorites]

I agree it was a little unclear! Her gift was to...hold everything together? Love them? Make them aware they are people not just gifts?

At the end, the house rebuilt the whole town...did that mean those people would also get gifts?

Is the valley a Shangri-la, and no one from outside gets in?

I am definitely overthinking this sweet children's movie, I know.

The music was good! The animation was appealing. I loved the variety of skin color, hair, and body types.

But there were a LOT of characters so many didn't get much time.
posted by emjaybee at 7:41 PM on December 2, 2021

According to the directors, Mirabel never got a power and we'll never know why. Bummer.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:42 AM on December 3, 2021 [1 favorite]

I really enjoyed this. I thought we had tickets for West Side Story, but it turns out that not only were my tickets for next week, but West Side Story isn't even out yet! So we made a last-minute decision to see this.

The music didn't seem quite up to LMM's normal output, and I agree the plot was missing ... something. But the animation was SO GORGEOUS. And I loved the little subversions, like having the big, strong lug be a girl, and also have her be completely overwhelmed with the pressure of being strong.

Abuela's song at the end wrecked me. She reminded me of my grandma, who also survived war and genocide (I think that's what was happening in the flashback? It was vague). But I didn't really expect Disney to give us a movie where the villain was intergenerational trauma. (Though maybe I should have after Moana)
posted by lunasol at 8:47 PM on December 7, 2021 [3 favorites]

That was fun! I guessed pretty quick that Mirabel didn't get a door because she was Abuela's heir - Abuela being the other Madrigal with no special powers. I did assume she was going to stop the house from falling apart, but it's more interesting that it did.
posted by mersen at 11:14 AM on December 14, 2021 [5 favorites]

Wow this movie was really good??? You guys?????

I adored the way that they made no attempt to present songs in even a vaguely diegetic fashion, and just leaned into purely theatrical spectacle pretty early on. The songs were also great and memorable and also I am PRETTY SURE that there was a subtle Savage Garden reference snuck into that one song, and I just ate the whole thing up. Mrs. Fedora described the movie as causing “airplane tears” and that feels pretty apt given how hard it brought The Feels
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:30 AM on December 25, 2021 [5 favorites]

like, that “deeply, madly, truly” in Isabela’s song? That combination of adverbs, all together? If it weren’t Lin-Manuel Miranda I’d say maybe it’s a coincidence, but it seems a little too much to think that he wouldn’t sneak in the title of an album by a band called Savage Garden into a song sequence that starts with a cactus and is defined by spiky plants instead of flowers
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:36 AM on December 25, 2021 [4 favorites]

Gotta say the advertising was very deceiving about the amount of capybara in this movie.
posted by jeather at 1:41 PM on December 26 [13 favorites]

I actually found a Tumblr post that cheered me about Mirabel's (lack of) powers.
mirabel didn’t lack a gift. her gift was that she was abuela’s true heir, and her power was control over the casita.
her door vanished when she touched it because her abuela could not relinquish her grip–over the house, over the magic, over her family, over her own fear-driven expectations–and unconsciously or not, her grandmother took it away. she couldn’t cede control. she couldn’t even acknowledge that this was an issue. she denied all of it, and in denying it she denied mirabel’s door, her gift, her importance, and her place in the future of the family.
evidence one: no one else is accommodated by the house the way mirabel is. they ask now and then, it anticipates them a bit. but it doesn’t dance around them the way it dances for mirabel and her abuella. from the very first scene, mirabel is literally in tune with casita the way everyone else is in tune with their own powers. it’s a fundamental part of her moveset and her music.
evidence two: when casita is being torn apart, it’s clearly being torn in two. it helps her in her struggle towards the candle even as it’s dying, even as abuela screams for her to stop. abuela’s unyielding grip is clearly driving the destruction, but even then the soul of the house is desperately aiding mirabel’s will. it drives everyone away from her against their wishes to further hers. she’s in control, even as her abuela’s refusal to cooperate tears it all apart. at the last, the house drives everyone out of the blast zone but protects mirabel with broken pieces of door as its very final act of volition. the framing is incredibly clear: mirabel is the house’s true mistress. mirabel is who the house chose to run this show. abuela can only deny this, not reverse it.
evidence three: when everyone’s finally reconciled, abuela’s most significant gesture–for her own healing, for the family’s, and for mirabel’s–is to formally pass stewardship of the household to mirabel. she gives over the doorknob. she invites mirabel to try again. she acknowledges she wasn’t fair to reject mirabel before. and now mirabel’s door is the front door, and mirabel’s power is openly acknowledged as the central power. it restores casita and from casita the wellspring of magic the rest of the family draws from.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:38 AM on December 28 [16 favorites]

I've watched this movie three times since it dropped on Disney+ on Christmas Eve -- so I have some feelings.

I'm third-generation Mexican-American, so not Colombian, but seeing PoC that remind me a lot of my extended family in a mainstream Disney is extremely meaningful! I'm having some fierce feelings right now, so here we go!

Pepa. Who has a lot of anxiety! Everyone knows how she's feeling -- it's showing right above her head most of the time. She pets her hair and has a soothing mantra. Her way of dealing with the anxiety, with the stemming and other self-soothing mannerisms that she utilizes! Seeing these emotions are important, and validating and real.

Her relationship with Felix is amazing. He totally gets it. Instead of going, oh, you're stormy! Just feel better! -- He's all, feel your feelings! He doesn't tell her to make it stop raining. He just asks her to take two steps back so their kid doesn't get too wet. That's powerful.

On the second viewing, I also noticed that while she's sometimes irritated with people, they're just normal, everyday kind of irritations. What always really seemed to set her off, was pardon the pun, her environment. So you know, being overwhelmed and overstimulated. Emotional dysregulation is a thing, and it's hard and embarrassing, and sometimes, we just feel everything.

Anyway, the family is just really sweet and charming. You can tell there's a lot of love there, even if it's not always healthy. Generational trauma isn't something I thought I'd ever see explored in a Disney movie. No one's a terrible human being (not even Abuela). There were absolutely some misguided decisions, and they all probably need therapy, but that's the thing with generation trauma. It's messy and complicated and you can love your Abuela while also realizing that she's exceptionally hard on you.

Imposter Syndrome: The Song. Oh, Luisa. There was a lot of love for her sister in that song, but also those self-esteem and self-worth issues. That trauma just goes on and on. It's so hard to break the cycle when it's all you've ever known.

Isabela's song really got to me the second time around. That's a girl who just wants to explore the world beyond her small hometown, and go get into some Trouble. But she also knows that if that Trouble gets to be a real crisis situation -- she's got a soft place to land.

Mirabelle - oh, sweet girl. Her gift is totally the house. She's absolutely the one to take over as the next matriarch. But importantly, empathy was what she had to provide. To understand that her family is incredible, but also flawed. Having a gift doesn't make you perfect; or a decent person. You have to work at those family relationships, and you have to try.

I think it's a bit like when you're a kid, you see the important adults in your life as some kind of larger-than-life mythical, all-knowing figures. Then you grow up and realize that they're just human beings, like you.

So Mirabelle needed to see her family as the people they are, instead of defining them by their gifts -- it's an oversimplification of who they are, and like how a kid would know them. Seeing the shades of gray between the black-and-white.

Last thoughts, the Madrigal husbands are the best. They both very obviously care about their wives, kids, and the rest of the extended clan. It's so refreshing to see two normal people who married into this super fantastical family and are all, that's nice. No jealousy, no bumbling parenting, just hey, go do your magical work stuff, and I'll hang out here, being supportive and loving!
posted by PearlRose at 1:11 PM on December 28 [14 favorites]

First: Holy wow was this so good. Like, watched it last night, stayed up way too late to immediately watch it again, and then watched it again today good. Amazing visuals, great music, and centering a stellar cast, Stephanie Beatriz proved just how crazy versatile she is.

Second: I'm glad jenfullmoon makes the "Guns and Ships" comparison right at the top here, because that's exactly what I was thinking when that part just flattened me (and if I've seen the movie three times now, I've watched that bit probably three dozen times. It's unbelievable, and Mirabel is definitely singing even faster than Lafayette there!)

Third: My reading, which I think is absolutely borne out by what we see even if it's not totally spelled out for us, is that Mirabel's role is to lead the family - something which Abuela Alma wasn't ready to give up yet. This makes sense with how Casita seems to respond to her even more than the others (except for maybe Alma) and the visual we get towards the end where Alma is clutching the candle "too tight" while Mirabel's door dissolves, something which in that context Alma is claiming is her own fault. In leading the rebuilding of Casita, with Alma's gracious blessing, the reins are handed over, presumably so that the Family Madrigal may continue to thrive for generations more.

Fourth: While we don't get to spend nearly enough time with all of the different characters, they were all dsrawn so distinctly and well that it didn't feel like a shortcoming - rather that I just wanted more of them - and it genuinely felt like they all had their own movies going on that they were the protagonists of, and which we were just peeking in on from time to time through Mirabel's POV. That's an amazing trick, to me. Obviously Luisa and Isabela have their own things going on, but the one I most wanted to hang out with was (perhaps obviously) Delores, hilarious and effortlessly charming and just delightful. Please Disney, at least give us a short about how Delores experienced this whole thing. It'd be amazing.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:12 PM on December 30 [1 favorite]

Rewatched this last night and for another Hamilton comparison, I submit: at the start of the movie, we get a look at the moment that created the candle, with the moment presented as kind of a detached “here’s a sad thing that happened in the past,” before revisiting that same thing at the end in much more human detail, at which point it is absolutely devastating.

It reminded me, as I thought about it, of the way that the first duel in Hamilton is mixed such that the gunshot is fairly loud but within the same general range of the rest of the sound, but the duel at the end has the gunshot way way louder, in a way that is fairly shocking.

Anyway this is a great movie
posted by DoctorFedora at 7:33 PM on December 30 [1 favorite]

We have a family-wide crush on Luisa, the giantess.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:44 PM on December 30 [1 favorite]

My official annoyance from an otherwise charming movie was that they don't make it clear whether Mirabel gets her own door/room at the end. And the junior novelization has her not getting one, but she's supposed to be happy because her family decorated her regular door. "Hey, we stuck some flowers on it! Enjoy the same poky room behind it while we go off to our personal pocket dimension paradises!" I guess we can hope that they at least remembered to build her her own regular room when they rebuilt the house, something they had not bothered to do for the last decade. So that she doesn't have to share the nursery with the next generation of great-grandchildren, no doubt being expected to take care of them. I'm pretty sure it wasn't Pepa getting up in the night when 4-year old Antonio had a nightmare in the nursery, at least.

I don't know if there's a TV Tropes name for it, but I've seen it before and it annoys me every time. You start with a really unjust and unfair disparity, and at the end the disparity is still there, but the person being fucked over is supposed to be happy, because they are the Heart or something else is more important. But all their pals/family still have all their benefits. Abuela has a door, so it's obviously not dependent on having a power, the house managed to rebuild all the other doors so it's not a lack of capability. I'm just imagining what a kick in the teeth it would be for Mirabel, to go in excitedly because surely she will have a room of her own now, she saved the Miracle, and to see all the others happily go to theirs and realize it's the nursery for her still and forever.
posted by tavella at 2:16 PM on January 3 [8 favorites]

(And the "well, the front door is her door so the casita is her room" shit does not fly. Sure she's on it, but so is everyone else, and they still have their own rooms. Can she shut the front door of the house and lock everyone else out? Is it her own private space? No it is not.)
posted by tavella at 2:29 PM on January 3 [5 favorites]

I TOTALLY AGREE WITH YOU. And per the director link above, she never gets a power, AND THAT PISSES ME OFF.
posted by jenfullmoon at 3:50 PM on January 3

According to the directors, Mirabel never got a power and we'll never know why. Bummer.

That article, and article linked within it, do not say that.

All they say is that the reason she doesn't have a power is never explained.

If you wish to believe that she gets a room and/or a power at the end, you can. But it's not brought up because it's not relevant to the story. Mirabel is a whole person, power or no.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 3:04 AM on January 6 [2 favorites]

So. Are we not going to talk about Bruno?
posted by Omnomnom at 12:06 AM on January 8 [4 favorites]

I'm OK with her not getting an "official" power. I think the point is that Mirabel is a part of the family even without a power--and not only a part of it, but the natural heir to its leadership. Which is arguably its own power. This doesn't come through as much, but when the whole community rebuilds the house instead of "the magic" there's a line that they sing along the lines of "we have no Gifts but we can help" and I think part of the point there is that a community is more than just a few magical people (like I said though--this is not emphasized, not as much as I'd like).

Dos Oruguitas, the song over Abuela's memory at the end, is the one that really made me ugly cry. And the animators really did not hold back, huh? The expressions they gave Abuela, her devastation after the miracle happened when she's in the house and clearly just wishing Pedro/Abuelo was with her . . . Disney shows sad people but there's always a softness about it. An exaggeration that's makes it a little cute. There was nothing cute in the animation of her face, it was completely raw.

I looked up the translation, it's about two caterpillars who cling to each other but must separate to become butterflies and then revisit in another form (that was my interpretation of the translation, anyway). I think that was about Pedro/Abuelo and Abuela--his transformation is through his death and going to the afterlife, hers through learning to grow without him and then when she dies they'll meet again. Granted, shades of "it was meant to be" and shitty if you're not religious. I could be totally wrong with that song's meaning!

I thought the speed of "The Family Madrigal" was an intentional effort to challenge the viewer, and LMM maybe very gently acknowledging the complexity and diversity of the multigenerational homes that are pretty common outside of the parents-two-kids-dog families that are always on screen but only typical among, well, white people of European background. LMM's music in general may channel other cultures but I don't know if it's always written for the cultures it channels (i.e. I think the song is written to challenge white viewers).

Speaking of which: with the caveat that I do not have a musical background this is the first time I've heard LMM's music that did not have all of LMM's musical tropes (like multiple songs that contain people rhythmically singing over one another about only slightly related topics). It's not that I don't like his prior work, but at a certain point it sounds the same.

In general I feel this movie is not going to be a classic standout, but nevertheless demonstrates an ongoing and much needed evolution of the Disney films.

And that was a lot of words for a Disney movie.
posted by schroedinger at 6:00 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]

Watched it last night and I liked it a lot, but I didn’t love it - I want to watch it again to get a better hold on it. It was so much fun - I loved so many things about it - but so many of the plot elements just felt forced or resolved unearned (we hate each other! Let’s sing about it! Now we love each other! / You’re destroying the family and our house! I love the family and our house and you’re destroying it! Now it’s destroyed you must be right it was me! - wait, what?) I also have an incredibly hard time with giving a character the gift of being able to hear a pin drop on a mountainside (I think that’s how they described it), but couldn’t hear her uncle living in the same house for years? Or even her sister’s conversations with him? It was a dumb, wasted gift that wasn’t interesting or useful.

There was a moment where I really caught my breath in the Bruno song (maybe my favorite song in the film) where it compared that cousin’s vision to Isabela’s and it sounded just like Angelica and Eliza’s - one would get the guy and the other would want him and always have him just out of reach - and then when it was time for the proposal it looked like the fiancé was about to say “well actually” and admit he really loved her instead. But no, he was actually-ing something else? And did love her? But then when Isabella didn’t want him he was like ok cool I guess I can switch so it turned out the prophecy was false for both sisters and (???)… I like that they all get happy endings but I feel like that could have been handled better. They had the setup do do something far more interesting.

But still, I went in thinking this was going to be a retread of Coco meets Moana and it was nothing like either, and it had me riveted the whole time (and ready to watch it again). Which I can’t say for a lot of Disney films.
posted by Mchelly at 7:33 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]

So. Are we not going to talk about Bruno?

No. We don't talk about Bruno.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 3:26 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]

I also have an incredibly hard time with giving a character the gift of being able to hear a pin drop on a mountainside (I think that’s how they described it), but couldn’t hear her uncle living in the same house for years?

She could. She did - she says so when Bruno reveals himself. Also in the song, she talks about Bruno in the present tense.
Hey, grew to live in fear of Bruno stuttering or stumbling
I can always hear him sort of muttering and mumbling
I associate him with the sound of falling sand, ch ch ch
It's a heavy lift with a gift so humbling
Always left Abuela and the family fumbling
Grappling with prophecies they couldn't understand
Do you understand?
He hid for a reason, and so she keeps his secret to respect his wishes.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:12 PM on January 9 [13 favorites]

Oh, this is a lovely movie. I've watched it twice. I don't think the story/plot is particularly strong - Zootopia and Frozen are definitely stronger - but there is so much else to me that is lovely about Encanto; my second viewing was mostly to allow me to pause the screen every so often to admire the artwork and the incredible level of detail. The songs might not be everyone's cup of tea but I really liked them, as well as the dancing - the dances with the complex choreography, swirling skirts and varying camera perspective are all so beautifully animated. The whole of We don't talk about Bruno is just fantastic. The song is good, but I'm not surprised that the video is trending on Youtube - the way it is animated takes it to another level.

Also, on both watches, this movie made me cry absolute buckets. While the plot is light, everyone is beautifully characterised. There is so much there to empathise with, whether it's Abuela's grief, Mirabel's desire to please her grandmother or Luisa's constant feeling of being under pressure to be strong for her family. (I mean: Give it to your sister, it doesn't hurt And see if she can handle every family burden Watch as she buckles and bends but never breaks - as the older sibling in a complicated family, this song had me in pieces. PIECES.)
posted by unicorn chaser at 1:28 PM on January 10 [2 favorites]

Back to link to this cool featurette on the making and animation of 'We don't talk about Bruno'. I particularly loved the segment where they show the real-life dancers who choreographed the song.
posted by unicorn chaser at 2:07 PM on January 13 [2 favorites]

I vaguely wonder if she's coded gay if she didn't want to marry that bohunk

That was my reading, since she ends up painted in rainbow colors in her song and at the end.

A lovely, lovely film.
posted by MrBadExample at 9:27 PM on January 14 [2 favorites]

Oh my god i just CRIED and cried. What a movie! Jeez
posted by potrzebie at 11:52 PM on January 16

Just a lovely movie, I enjoyed the animation, all the little details and the, you know, heart of the whole thing. I also liked that it wasn't 100% done, all loose ends tied up and presented with a nice bow on top at the end. Let the audience wonder a little bit.
posted by Harald74 at 11:57 PM on January 17

This was a very fun and colorful movie about multi-generational family trauma (with capybaras!).
posted by Julnyes at 12:36 PM on January 21

Nobody talks about Julieta either, which struck me when I realized that both Luisa and Isabella are suffering by trying to never have needs of their own. Mirabel does the same at the beginning, trying to minimize herself from being a burden. Pepa's kids are much less stifled. Every time you see Julieta she's supporting someone or healing someone, often both. In her generation, Bruno was the designated scapegoat, Pepa is the drama hurricane and Julieta is the one pressed into being perfect. She models that for her daughters, probably not even aware she's doing it.
posted by Karmakaze at 1:45 PM on January 22 [2 favorites]

We just watched this for the second time and it’s turning into a family favorite. I love that a major studio decided to do a feature that’s a Colombian character study, like a family friendly Chekhov play.

I’m bothered by Isabella’s turn in the spotlight though. The other two characters that get “I have a problem” time with Mirabella (Louisa and Bruno) are fan favorites and are a big chunk of the emotional heart of the film. This is due to the fact that their problems are well- rendered and universal - unsustainable personal expectations and lack of self respect for Louisa, neurodiversity / mental well being for Bruno. Resolution involves each of them realizing that they are not the problem, and the family learning to be more understanding and accommodating.

Isabella’s character arc is much less satisfying, probably because in 2022 self-expression isn’t necessarily something most people are struggling with. Given the more weighty stuff in the other songs it seems pretty clear to me that her arc is a coded reference to either sexual orientation or gender identity. I have two kids in middle school and they picked up on this immediately - at their school somebody making drastic changes to their personal style, particularly from an extremely gender-binary look to one more colorful and ambiguous, usually goes along with joining LGBTQ club (btw if anything gives me hope it’s that this club not only exists at their school but is very popular). It pisses me off that Disney can make explicit the struggles around mental health and generational trauma but not speak clearly about someone being gay or trans. Back to back with Luca I’m kind of losing patience. So I’ll stick with my headcanon, which is that since this is 1950’s Colombia Isabella can’t actually say what she means, but everybody gets it and is accepting anyway.
posted by q*ben at 10:30 AM on January 23 [1 favorite]

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