Friday, November 26, 2021

Tonight's Movie: Encanto (2021)

I spent part of "Black Friday" at the movies, seeing the new animated Disney film ENCANTO (2021). ENCANTO is Disney Animation's 60th feature film.

ENCANTO was absolutely charming, an upbeat film with beautiful visuals and a bouncy score by Lin-Manuel Miranda (MOANA).

It's the story of the Madrigal family, who live in a magical house in Colombia. The home appeared out of nowhere as a place of refuge for Alma (Maria Cecilia Botero) and her newborn triplets immediately after her husband was killed in a violent attack.

The casita has sheltered generations of Madrigals, with each Madrigal also receiving a special gift when they come of age. Everyone, that is, but Mirabel (Stephanie Beatriz). Her lovely sister Isabela (Diane Guerrero) can spin flowers out of thin air and her giant-sized sister Luisa (Jessica Darrow) has superhuman strength, but Mirabel is completely ordinary.

One day the magic seems to start slipping away from Casa Madrigal, and spunky, empathetic Mirabel wonders if she, ironically, might be the member of the family who is able to find a solution to preserve the magic.

Like other recent Disney films, including FROZEN (2013) and RAYA AND THE LAST DRAGON (2021), ENCANTO's focus is on strong women; traditional villains aren't in evidence, with the central conflict gradually revealed to be simply relationships which need work and understanding.

The need for working through family issues is especially true when it comes to Mirabel's long-lost Uncle Bruno (John Leguizamo), who disappeared after his gift of seeing the future became problematic; he's the subject of one of the film's catchiest songs, "We Don't Talk About Bruno."

I found Mirabel a very appealing character; she's quite attractive in her unique way, all the more so because she's a good person. When little Antonio (Ravi Cabot-Conyers) is nervous about his coming of age ceremony, it's Mirabel he turns to for reassurance.

The filmmakers have created a group of distinctive characters. Special kudos go to the film's costume designs, which add greatly to the visual appeal.

ENCANTO is simply a gorgeous, funny, and moving film which I found quite original. I thoroughly enjoyed it and will definitely be buying the Blu-ray to enjoy again in the future.

Trailers may be found here and here.

This 99-minute film was directed by Jared Bush, Byron Howard, and Charise Castro Smith; the screenplay was by Smith and Bush, based on a story by several others, including composer Miranda.

Parental Advisory: ENCANTO is rated PG. There are some mildly scary moments but I found it quite family friendly, with positive messages about family love and working through problems.

ENCANTO was preceded by a lovely seven-minute short, FAR FROM THE TREE (2021), about a little raccoon who wants to go exploring beyond the eye of his watchful mother. It was written and directed by Natalie Nourigat.

Previous new 2021 theatrical reviews: F9: THE FAST SAGA (2021), BLACK WIDOW (2021), JUNGLE CRUISE (2021), FREE GUY (2021), and SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS (2021).

I haven't yet had time to see Marvel's ETERNALS due to a busy schedule, including travel, but I'm hoping to catch it before it leaves theaters! Other films I'm interested in seeing in December include WEST SIDE STORY (2021), SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME (2021), and AMERICAN UNDERDOG (2021).


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