Encanto has all the key ingredients to fit in alongside the best of Disney’s impressive animated features yet slips into a formulaic approach – stripping its chance to stand-out from anything that has come before it.
Encanto follows a Colombian family who possess the power of Encanto, a magical gift granted to every member of the family – except for Mirabel. There are a lot of reasons to like Encanto, as it contains all those fun elements we appreciate from these animated Disney musicals – spare-no-expense animation, upbeat songs, and eccentric characters. It creates an enjoyable experience but it feels far too similar to its Disney counterparts such as the recent Frozen and Moana. This film feels far too focused on enchanting its audience through these stimulating pieces but doesn’t provide the extra oomph that other similar films tend to have. It all starts with the film’s internal logic as it doesn’t seem interested in completely explaining the lore of its world and appears to expect the audience to go along with the ‘magic’ component. I found myself constantly questioning certain elements that were unfolding, immediately creating an obstacle for me to get absorbed into the film’s storytelling.
It may have all the winning elements that come with these types of films, but the absolute key component it’s missing? A screenplay that ties the thematics into the narrative and characters. Encanto was just missing that magic that truly elevates a Disney animation film into a Disney classic as it unfolds into your typical ‘everyone is special’ message. I wouldn’t say there is anything majorly bad with the script but there is a ton of potential being left on the table here with zero sense of emotional stimulation that I’d usually experience in these movies. These days, I feel like films like this can simply meet the bare minimum requirements to be classed as ‘great’ even if they don’t have a lasting impact like they used to – Encanto is that type of film. A good and enjoyable animated movie, but one you’ll forget the next day.
Disney constantly loves to flex their production quality in the animation department and Encanto is no different with its vibrant style. Lacking the intricate detail that Toy Story 4 contained and replacing it with a lively colour palette akin to Coco. The world-building is extremely dull as the majority doesn’t really explore anything outside of the magical house nor showcase some of its naturalistic landscapes. From the first song you instantly know that Lin-Manuel Miranda is behind the music as he loves to use an upbeat and rhythmic tempo with expressed lyrics that has a supporting character being a backing vocalist. Lin-Manuel Miranda sticks to his comfort zone in creating the musical pieces here with none of them producing any toe-tapping nor any tug at the heartstrings.
Despite the heavy-handed efforts to make Encanto hit all the right notes that other recent Disney animated films have done, it misses the emotional beats that make those films so memorable.