A Disney animated feature is always a big deal. But when it’s a banner number like the 60th release and the first in-theater feature since the start of the pandemic, it’s an even bigger deal. Of course, Encanto is particularly important for Latinxs – one of the rare ones to feature us. A magical realist Colombia for its setting. Written and co-directed by Cuban American Charise Castro Smith. Eight original songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda. A multi-racial Latinx cast. So what do Latinas have to say? Well, let’s just say we don’t agree…
For Remezcla, Aiko Hilkinger brings the Colombian perspective. She notes, “I found myself having trouble connecting to the Colombian experience the film is trying to portray. And that’s when I discovered something pivotal, the main team behind the film, weren’t Colombian. It might seem like such an insignificant detail to be hung up on since there’s already so much representation to be excited about when it comes to casting, but if we’re going to credit the film for being a much-needed step forward, we also have to call them out when they’re not.” Read her full piece.
Disney’s Encanto Review: While Set in Colombia, The Charming Animation Pays More of an Homage to Latin America’s Beauty, Focusing on Family Values
Over at the Mujerista, Josie Meléndez Hernández also describes how the film depicts more of an imaginary pan-Latin American experience than a Colombian one – but that’s not all bad. She writes, “At the end of the day, it’s a beautiful Disney film, but it is not a film about Colombia or its people. Many Latines will be able to connect because, while Encanto isn’t an accurate or perfect representation of Colombian culture specifically, it encompasses the foundation of our cultures that brings us together.” Read her full review.
For Roger Ebert, Monica Castillo has mixed feelings about Encanto, writing “The conflict is minimal at best, which allows for Mirabel to spend more time learning about what she can do despite her lack of powers, but it also leaves the movie feeling a bit meandering. To make up for lost action, the movie shines in its animation and design, really making use of the house with doors to new worlds and musical sequences that allow for a little more abstract artistic freedom.” Read her full review.
Tania Lamb loves it, writing in Your Money Geek, “Walt Disney Animation Studios brings one of its most joyful, vibrant, and intimate animated films to the big screen right in time for Thanksgiving. Encanto is a treasure for those who have ever had a hard time feeling special. With toe-tapping tunes and adorable animated characters (Antonio, I’m looking at you), add Encanto to your must-watch list this holiday season.” Read her full review.
Over at IndieWire, Kristen Lopez has some concerns, giving the film a B-. She says Encanto “feels like one of the Mouse House’s more emotionally complex animated features, even if its story ultimately tries too hard to wrap up that nuance in a very tidy bow… Because the emotions within Mirabel’s own journey are so rich, the rest of the plot of the film tends to feel thin, even with built-in stakes.” Read her full review.
Diandra Rivera of Diandra Reviews it All flipping loves it, writing “Encanto becomes one of my FAVE DISNEY films because its message is to praise your uniqueness and never doubt that in a loving family, no matter how different your members are from each other, it has a place. ISN’T THAT STUNNING?! Add on, Disney’s TYPICAL penchant some of the best, most splendid visual effects in animation, and Encanto proves why Mickey Mouse’s house remains amongst kids and adults.” Read her full review.
After noting that Encanto “not only centers around a Latinx family but it also celebrates Colombia’s immense diversity – something we rarely, if ever, see in mainstream films today,” POPSUGAR’s Johanna Ferreira focuses on the spirituality aspect: “Mirabel’s Tío Bruno, who is referred to as a spiritual intuitive, medium, or psychic, gets visions regarding what’s to come in the future… While the messaging is pretty subtle, the film definitely touches on how heavily stigmatized Latinx spirituality is and the discrimination folks who are spiritually intuitive or gifted have often experienced.” Read her full piece.
Lissete Lanuza Sáenz explores why Encanto is such an important film for Remezcla, arguing “Growing up I didn’t have anyone like Mirabel to remind me that it was okay to not be perfect, to not be special in the ways society dictated I needed to be. No one I could point out to and say, ‘See, it’s okay to just be myself, whoever that is.’ And the fact that Disney’s Encanto allows us – and more importantly – kids to see Mirabel for all she is, even if that never seems to line up with what other people expect, will have a big impact on the way an entire community thinks about what it means to fit in, going forward.” Read her full piece.
But Why Tho? A Geek Community’s Kate Sánchez also focuses on the film’s relatability, writing “This nuanced and direct look at family structure and how the generations above us bury their pain in us when they mean to protect us is one that hit me hard. It reduced me to tears multiple times throughout the film and ultimately created a story we haven’t seen in the Disney Animated universe before. Yes, we have seen films that deal with filial piety, but here, we see the constant fear of a way of life being taken away if even one member of a family fails. That, that one element hits differently.” Read her full review.
Getting it with that big USA Today byline, Pamela Avila notes “Mirabel does what so many Latinx millennials working to break generational trauma want to do: stand up to the root of the issue, to the very person(s) causing the hurt and pain. ‘Luisa will never be strong enough. Isabella will never be perfect enough,’ Mirabel firmly tells Abuela. ‘You’re the one breaking our home… the miracle is dying because of you.'” Read her full piece.
I Saw My Abuela in Encanto’s Abuela Alma and That’s Why This Movie Challenges Latino Families To Be Better
And for mitú, Cristina Escobar can definitely relate to Encanto, writing “I think the tale of the harsh grandma is something a few of us can relate to. Personally, I had this type of grandma and it was difficult for me… Similar to my own story, Mirabel, the Colombian heroine of Encanto, finds herself in this dynamic. She wants to honor her Abuela, but that’s impossible when Abuela Alma doesn’t honor her. Alma is ashamed of this granddaughter, the only Madrigal without a magical gift, and is constantly asking Mirabel to make herself smaller.” Read her full piece.