I finally got around watching this animation from Disney. I had originally avoided this because it looked like it was geared too much to the younger audience category. However, the film had made a name for itself through positive reviews, and its record breaking performance with its soundtrack album including the hit song “We Don’t Talk About Bruno”. That song stayed in number 1 position in the British top singles chart for several weeks and is a popular song that can be heard everywhere. Encanto went on to win the Academy Award as well as the BAFTA (British Awards) for Best Animated Feature Film for 2021. With such highly respectable accolades bestowed on it, I was feeling hard pressed to give this a watch.
After finally watching this, I have to say that some of my early reservations were realised. Disney animation is NOT Pixar, and hence, their storyline and characters tend to have less depth or worldly-wise. That is not necessarily a bad thing and just a choice of direction taken to cater for the younger audience set. I also felt that the overall storyline here is too simple and many of the supporting characters to our main heroine, Mirabel (voiced by Stephanie Beatriz) were very superficially written. However, happily there are plenty of other things here to enjoy … the animation is flawless as is expected from Disney, and the colourful setting in the tiny Colombian village simply a visual delight. Mirabel’s facial and body language matches her character’s mood and thoughts perfectly as is the case with the other characters. I suppose if I have to grouch, it would that the character of Mirabel’s grandmother, Abuela Alma, who seemed to be deliberately animated as stiff looking, which translated to me as being less “animated” than the others. Finally, there is the script which is mostly filled with inoffensive humour that keeps the entertainment moving along nicely. It is also worth mentioning that both its directors Bryon Howard and Jared Bush have been involved with multiple animation projects so have vast experience between them.
Ultimately, the best thing about Encanto which sets it above from other recent Disney animation is its wonderful soundtrack. All the songs here were written by Lin-Manuel Miranda including some which were sung in Spanish. Lin-Manuel was recently in the spotlight for being the director of one of 2021’s critically acclaimed musical, “Tick, Tick … Boom”. He is the true talent largely responsible for Encanto’s success. The music and songs in Encanto really comes alive with the snappy and humorous lyrics, accompanied by very busily choreographed dancing! I can’t wait to see the next musical number and wished there were more songs in the film. The hit song ”We Don’t Talk About Bruno” was easily the best song as well as best presented segment. There is just so much happening during these numbers, they demand multiple viewings. The singing here may not be Broadway standard, but the rawness and slightly flawed sounding vocals actually adds a charm to these easy listening songs. Thank goodness for Disney+ streaming service which provides subscribers the option to enjoy these moments over and over again.
Encanto is not perfect, but it is enduring and succeed in elevating itself to a higher status thanks to the music and the freshness of something that is takes place in South America for a change. In fact many of the cast members and voices are Colombian-born or of Colombian descent. Disney stays true to its legacy with this which is something that the whole family can enjoy together.