Review: Disney’s ‘Encanto’

Encanto Poster

Disney films are known for telling stories full of magic and wonder brought to life with memorable characters. The studio’s latest animated film, Encanto, has the first two but is sadly missing the crucial third element, which is why it’s unlikely to become a Disney classic.

The film focuses on the Madrigal family who live in the mountains of Colombia in a charmed area called Encanto. 15-year-old Mirabel (voiced by Stephanie Beatriz, Brooklyn Nine-Nine) run errands and sings about her magical home and family in the opening song, “The Family Madrigal,” which serves to explain the setup. Three young friends of hers follow along, delighted to hear about the house that’s actually alive and how each member of the family’s bestowed with a special gift on their fifth birthday. Each member, that is, except Mirabel who’s the black sheep of the family and doesn’t have a gift.

Madrigal’s lack of a magical girl is a point of contention between her and the matriarch of the family, Abuela Alma (voiced by Maria Cecilia Botero).

Following a ceremony celebrating her five-year-old cousin Antonio (voiced by Ravi Cabot-Conyers) receiving his gift (he can understand animals), Mirabel goes off on her own to pout about not having her own gift. Suddenly out of nowhere, the young girl has a vision of her home cracking and the magical candle flame being extinguished. Mirabel fears it’s an omen of what’s to come and that the magic’s in grave danger. She decides to take it upon herself to try to discover more about this threat to her family and magic.

Stephanie Beatriz delivers an above average vocal performance as Mirabel, the good-hearted, well-meaning member of the family who hopes her search to stop the threat of her family losing their home and magic will make up for her not being bestowed with a magic gift. Beatriz gives Mirabel an energetic and likeable personality but seems to struggle with balancing that with Mirabel’s need to not feel like an outsider within her own family.

Maria Cecilia Botero is solid as the voice of Abuela Alma but the character is, at best, one-dimensional, seeming only to care about the magic and her home over everything and everyone else…even her own family. She’s a bland and uninteresting character, and Botero’s voice work can’t overcome the writing.

The animation looks great and there’s a vibrancy to the action on screen, but it isn’t anything moviegoers haven’t seen before in films such as Rio and Zootopia. Another major letdown is that there’s not a single song in Encanto that leaves an impression. Not even the opening number is something audience members will likely be humming on their way out of the theater.

Disney’s Encanto is a bright, colorful, and loud adventure with a talented voice cast but suffers from a clutter of forgettable characters and unremarkable songs. It’s a misfire of what could have been, given the premise, a standout addition to Disney’s animated catalogue.


MPAA Rating: PG for some thematic elements and mild peril

Running Time: 1 hour 39 minutes

Release Date: November 24, 2021

Directed By: Jared Bush and Byron Howard