Review ‘Encanto’ – The Hollywood Reporter

Disney’s Encanto is, well, enchanting. It’s hard to make an animated movie get the ultimate sweetness without being copied. But this eerie magical realism set amidst the lush vegetation of the Colombian mountains benefits as much from the purity of the storytelling as the stunning vibrancy of the images. Apart from a quick nod to the inevitable frozen the song “Let It Go” and a funny quote about valet parking at burros, has a very small number of the usual wink subculture songs designed for lounging with kids contemporary child. Instead, it’s a film that commits the timeless folklore of its South American setting to a carrier level.

The project is led by two of the directors behind Zootopia, Jared Bush and Byron Howard, with the co-direction of lead screenwriter Charise Castro Smith, a playwright who made the dramatic leap into motion pictures following cinematic sequences from The crooked maids come The Haunting of Hill House. Another integral member of the creative team is Lin-Manuel Miranda, who contributed eight outstanding original songs that blend a passion for traditional musical theater with Colombian music and hip-fast puns- hop.


Key point

An absolute charmer.

Release date: Wednesday, November 24
Cast: Stephanie Beatriz, María Cecilia Botero, Angie Cepeda, Wilmer Valderrama, Diane Guererro, Jessica Darrow, Carolina Gaitán, Mauro Castillo, Adassa, Rhenzy Feliz, Ravi Cabot-Conyers, John Leguizamo, Maluma, Alan Tudyk
Director: Jared Bush, Byron Howard
Co-Director: Charise Castro Smith
Writer: Charise Castro Smith, Jared Bush

Rated PG, 1 hour 40 minutes

The opening number does exactly what a good musical beginner should do – it deftly sets the tone, outlines the history and breakdown of the vast collection of characters, and zooms in on the main character, Mirabel Madrigal. Voiceover with exciting verve by Stephanie Beatriz (Brooklyn Nine-Nine), the 15-year-old girl is a beloved member of the extended family but also an outsider, she hides her melancholy feelings of inferiority by being a cheerful helper role model. .

The same song, “The Family Madrigal”, also introduces their casita, a multi-story fairy house with magical powers of its own. Its roof and floor tiles, doors and windows all move to the beat of the music, communicating with the Madrigals in creative ways and promoting physical comedy.

Mirabel’s grandmother, Abuela Alma (María Cecilia Botero), has the warmth of a traditional matriarchal but is also very strict. She is actually the keeper of the flame, a candle entrusted to her in a time of tragedy that burns forever, energizing the family’s magic. Forced to flee her home village with her three infants, Alma lost her husband, Pedro, in an attack by bandits. The candle caused the house of Madrigal to appear in the uninhabited forest and has since bestowed a special gift on all of Alma’s descendants, revealed on each person’s fifth birthday.

Mirabel’s mother, Julieta (Angie Cepeda), is able to heal any illness with her cooking; her younger sister Isabela (Diane Guererro) is a peach blossom beauty, loved by thousands of people; eldest sister Luisa (Jessica Darrow) possesses superhuman strength; Aunt Pepa (Carolina Gaitán) can control the weather with her emotions; cousin Dolores (Adassa) has extraordinary hearing; and another cousin, Camilo (Rhenzy Feliz), is an impeccable entertainer with shape-shifting abilities.

Only Mirabel has no presents. The repulsion of her fifth birthday celebration, when the magical door bearing her name simply crumbled to dust, still weighs on her 10 years later. The same goes for her in Abuela, especially with the gift giving ceremony of Mirabel’s young cousin Antonio (Ravi Cabot-Conyers) fast approaching. Alma is concerned that the magic – which has enveloped the family for three generations and supported the village community to grow around them – may be exhausted.

When Mirabel sees the enchanted casita falling apart, she fears the worst, her fear shared by Abuela and by Luisa, who sets out to find her Herculean in an effort. She revealed the unquestionable flaw beneath her great strength in her song, “Surface Pressure,” another hit song.

Feeling that she doesn’t have a present has let her family down – and needs some self-lifting validation, in line with Disney’s rule books – Mirabel takes it upon herself to investigate what’s at stake spells out, a quest that takes her through mysterious passages and vast rooms within the house’s walls to track down her mysterious uncle Bruno (John Leguizamo), who has been missing for years. before.

Much of the film’s substantial appeal comes from the fact that despite the magical elements inherent even in its title, the story is essentially about the dynamics of any large, close-knit family. with opposite personalities. Much of the Madrigals’ gifts correspond to qualities commonly found in more ordinary people – the traditional grandmother; foster mother; the extremely beautiful golden sister (who has a mean girl-like attitude towards Mirabel); and the selfless, hardworking eldest brother, shouldering a sense of responsibility. Mirabel is basically any considered non-special teen who really just wants to be seen and acknowledged for his own special traits.

The married characters in the family are all recognizable: Mirabel’s father, Agustín (Wilmer Valderrama), is an adorably clumsy father who loves all the dominant women in the family; and there is a party uncle like Pepa’s husband, Félix (Mauro Castillo), in each family.

Much as the story revolves around Mirabel discovering what threatens Madrigal’s magic and endangers their hideout, on a more fundamental level it’s about this large, complex group that resets the world. get along, learn to appreciate, and even celebrate, each other’s qualities, whether they are extravagant or simple. And it’s about a community coming together to rebuild what’s been lost and strengthening each other in the process.

Those sentiments are expertly expressed by the stellar voice cast and are evoked in Miranda’s flavorful songs, including two issues in Spanish: “Dos Oruguitas,” by performed by Colombian singer-songwriter Sebastián Yatra, is a soulful allegory of the love story between Abuela Alma and her late husband; and “Colombia, Mi Encanto” is a stirring hometown salute sung by country pop superstar Carlos Vives. In a beautiful touch of artistic continuity, Alma’s vocals are provided by Miranda’s In the heights Abuela, Olga Merediz.

The film continues to reach for Disney’s more diverse representation of its animated features, following recent titles Moana, Raya and the last dragon and Pixar’s Coco, shares the same Latin American background but is completely different in its distinctly Mexican sensuality.

The color of Encanto sumptuous, as well as magical details in the costumes and production design, look no further than the real animated home of the Madrigals – a merchandising opportunity just waiting to happen. The natural setting is even more beautiful, especially a river fed by waterfalls, where Abuela brought Mirabel to share her story. And the animal life that’s part of a classic Disney TV series shouldn’t be forgotten, with a cheeky bird of prey “voiced” by Alan Tudyk and a whole bunch of animals appearing in connection with his gift. a character, including jaguars, tapirs, capybaras, even cute mice. Luisa around the wandering donkey was laughing.

Disney clearly sees the potential to reach home audiences over the holidays with this Thanksgiving release; The touching, tender but ultimately joyful story will follow the theatrical route, with a Disney+ premiere in December. Encanto ideally paired with Away from the tree, an adorable seven-minute short film written and directed by Natalie Nourigat, reflects the film’s themes of family and family safety in the gripping story of a strict raccoon parent Caring but loving is struggling to keep its curious offspring unharmed.

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