‘Encantamos’: Disney’s ‘Encanto’

‘We love’ the newly 60th animated feature, ‘Encanto’


Disney Studios

Mirabel in her ‘I want’ song “Waiting on a Miracle” in “Encanto” (2021).

Elaine Thimyan, Reporter

We might not talk about Bruno, but we should definitely all be talking about Disney’s new movie “Encanto.” Released in theaters on November 24, 2021, and on Disney+ over break on December 24, it’s the studio’s 60th animated feature film. Directed by Byron Howard (Tangled, Zootopia, and Bolt) alongside Jared Bush (Moana and Zootopia), they didn’t need a future-telling Bruno to tell them Encanto would be a success. 

However, they aren’t the only geniuses behind this wonderful movie. Lin-Manuel Miranda— world-famous for writing the musical Hamilton, songs for Moana, and his other musical “In the Heights,”— wrote the songs for Encanto. The score was also conjured up by Germaine Franco, who did the score for Coco, The Book of Life, and countless other films. 

The music is definitely one of the most charming aspects of the film. Miranda first wrote “The Family Madrigal,” the opening number which explains the family relations and everyone’s magical gift. Catching and informative for an opening number, it establishes a lot of the character’s outside personas that will be washed away by the end of the movie.

Disney has a very set formula when it comes to their music. Starting in 1989 with The Little Mermaid, pioneered by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, each Disney character gets an “I want” song— Ariel wants to be a part of the human world, Simba cant wait to be king, Elsa wants to let go, etc. Encanto follows this same formula when it comes to Mirabel. Her song “Waiting on a Miracle” is a song about her wanting to feel like she truly does belong in her exceptional family.

Isabela Madrigal in the opening number of “Encanto” (2021). (Disney Studios)

Miranda explained in a behind-the lyrics-video, that the rhythm for “Waiting on a Miracle” is in 3/4, which is out of step with the opening song, literally making Mirabel out of step with her family. The big showstopper however is “We Don’t Talk About Bruno”. The song goes through why the family had started to become cautious of Bruno, his gift was no longer helping the town and he became one of the “family weirdos.” It’s a very Lin-Manuel-esque song with light rap, catchy melody and tempo, and of course an overlapping ensemble. It’s quickly become a fan favorite.

However, there are two songs in particular that disappointed me when I first watched them. They were Luisa and Isabela’s songs “Surface Pressure” and “What Else Can I do?”

Remember that Disney formula we were talking about? Well in Disney movies, and in musical theater in general, there’s a rule you follow. When emotion becomes too strong to talk, you sing; and when emotion gets too strong to sing, you dance. That being said, there wasn’t really enough emotional momentum for either of these songs to take place. Undoubtedly catchy and visually pleasing, on a rewatch I had warmed up to them, but in terms of the story and their characters, the placement of the songs weakened the overall plot.

Disney Studios

Right after “We Don’t Talk About Bruno,” we see the fan-favorite emotional flashback song “Dos Orugitas” (translating to two caterpillars.) It’s the first song Manuel has ever written in Spanish from start to finish and his wife has said that it’s easily his best song. The song follows a young Abuela Alma finding her love and having children. The song has lyrics such as “You have to leave and build your own future” and “Forward will you carry on.” The beautiful lyricism is a detail many of us might not understand because it is in Spanish, but regardless of what language you speak, you can feel the emotion singer Sebastián Yatra puts in. 

The visuals of the film are nothing but outstanding. The bright colors of Columbia enchant the audience and the cinematography of the Madrigals using their gifts, especially Isabela is enchanting. One of my favorite visuals is at the end with Dos Orugitas— seeing the animation of Abuela Alma’s breakdown is breathtaking and truly heart-wrenching to watch. Another favorite of mine was the butterflies at the end of the song that go towards the mountain. 

Finally, the characters. A solid 10/10 for the characters. Each one is unique in their character designs and personalities, and all audiences can relate to someone in this movie.

Encanto falls short in regards to the main message of the story, as it is overlooked by questions that never get answered by the resolution. We wonder “Why didn’t Mirabel get a gift?”; “Where did the magic come from?”; “Does Mirabel actually have a gift?”. While those are fun questions to analyze, by doing so the message of the story gets forgotten.

The movie tries to tell us that everyone is more than just what they can do, and just how they can be of service to others. You don’t need to prove that you’re ‘worthy’ of a miracle, because the miracle is you— all of you.