As you’ve all probably noticed by now, everybody is talking about Bruno. They’re also talking about Mirabel, Isabella, Luisa, and the whole gang. Encanto has proven to be a sensation on the level of Frozen for many families, and with very good reason. This movie is not just for kids. I know that is said a lot, but it’s genuinely a good, family-friendly film. There isn’t a villain, so this movie is great even for really sensitive kiddos. Plus, there aren’t any inappropriate innuendos as is common for adult-friendly kid movies.
Rather than being a typical princess movie, Encanto focuses on a family. The Madrigals are a Colombian family who is just delightful to watch on screen. (Honestly, I want to be friends with, like, half of them, especially Dolores!) Not since Moana has a Disney movie had such good music, either, and that’s because Lin-Manuel Miranda was very involved in both soundtracks. Seriously, the man is fantastic! I actually enjoy listening to the soundtrack 379,403 times a week! There is a reason that “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” has surpassed even “Let It Go” on the Billboard Hot 100.
The cast is also just perfection, but I’ll write more about that below.
The matriarch of the family is from Colombia. We see in a flashback that Abuela had to flee her home with her triplets and husband. As they’re fleeing with others from their town, Abuelo sacrifices himself so his family and community can be safe, and this leads to the Madrigals being given a magical candle. I love that this part of their story is included. It’s mild enough for kids to watch, but it still introduces the idea of displaced people and the suffering they’ve been through. The scene where “Dos Oruguitas” plays usually makes me tear up.
We don’t only focus on the sadness of Abuela’s backstory, though. We also get the joy and liveliness of Colombian culture. The clothes in the movie are very different than what we typically see here in Birmingham, but they’re gorgeous! The music and dancing are CONTAGIOUS. The food looks amazing, (arepas, anyone?) and there is even a map of Colombia in one scene! I’ve been told by a Colombian friend that the movie is better in Spanish, which I think is just a wonderful detail.
I did some digging into the cast and found that many of the characters are Colombian! They are all Hispanic, which I think is a big step in the right direction for Hollywood. The representation in this movie isn’t faked or offensive; it’s actually flattering and honest. The fact that so many children are getting to see themselves in this movie makes me so happy! My girls watching and loving these characters that don’t look like them is just the icing on the cake.
From Luisa’s song about feeling tremendous pressure as the older sister to Mirabel’s song about loneliness to Isabela’s song about needing to be perfect, I’m sure you’ll find a song in this movie that tugs at your heart strings. I daresay we can all relate to at least one of the characters on a deep level. I’ve even seen a therapist take to IG to break down each character’s personality and actions based on their childhood issues (yes, they’re cartoons, but they’re so well-written). This family isn’t perfect by any means. Their journey isn’t all rainbows and sunshine. Yet, they still love each other and take care of each other. At the end of the day, they have each other, and that’s what’s important to them. With or without magic, and with or without their beloved casita, they have each other, and that’s enough for them.
So, if you haven’t watched Encanto yet, do it! Even if you have watched it, you should watch it again! It’s still in some theaters and it’s available to stream on Disney+. If you want to have an educational movie night, have some arepas and discuss the terms of endearment or nicknames used in the film! Above all, enjoy watching this movie while letting it grow your compassion for others. After all, isn’t that what makes stories so great?