Encanto, Disney’s 60th animated film, tells the tale of the exceptional Madrigals. Hidden away in the mountains of Columbia, they inhabit a magical sanctuary, an Encanto, that has blessed every child of the family with a gift, from super-strength to shapeshifting—that is, every child but one. Mirabel (Stephanie Beatriz), with no special power to her name, must find a way to save her family’s magic after discovering it’s in peril.
Disney’s attention to detail helps immerse the viewer. Set in Colombia, every part of the Madrigals’ community matches the country’s real-life culture and appearance. Whether it’s the shoes, skirts, and shirts they wear, the houses they live in, or the arepas con queso they eat, Encanto makes sure the magical world it builds mimics reality. Adding to this realism is the fact that every voice actor has Latin American heritage.
But as always, Lin Manuel Miranda’s soundtrack steals the show. His songs drive the story forward and shed light on each character singing. We’re introduced to the family Madrigal with the eponymous tune “The Family Madrigal” as the protagonist Mirabel runs through the gifts of each of her family members.
All seems well with this upbeat song, but after her family takes a family photo without her, she expresses her loneliness being the only child without a gift in “Waiting on a Miracle.” Her feelings highlight the toxic pressure of familial expectations that affect every member of the family.
The rest of Encanto is filled with songs that dazzle, from hits like “What Else Can I do” that push themes and character development forward to soft ballads like “Dos Oruguitas” that wrench the heart.
When the candle that is the source of their magic begins to fade, Mirabel’s sister Luisa (Jessica Darrow) sings about how worthless she feels without her super-strength in “Surface Pressure.” She feels trapped by what the family expects of her, as if her gift defines her.
The centerpiece of the Encanto soundtrack by popular vote is “We Don’t Talk About Bruno,” as it recently knocked Adele off the top spot of the Billboard’s Hot 100. The catchy tune, with its Broadway-esque singing and choreography, talks about the family outcast Bruno; because his gift to see the future only seemed to cause chaos, he was pushed away, disappearing from the family for good. The song features the voices of countless side characters, from Mirabel’s cousins to the townspeople, and it provides a sound unique to any Disney movie. The rest of Encanto is filled with songs that dazzle, from hits like “What Else Can I do” that push themes and character development forward to soft ballads like “Dos Oruguitas” that wrench the heart. Miranda has hit again, using his lyrical genius to turn Encanto into a movie worthy of its monumental status as Disney’s 60th. It meshes magical elements with real-life struggles like the weight of expectations to create a story full of twists and turns. The family Madrigal is far from normal, but after watching their adventures, chances are they’ll seem a little more relatable. Because, special powers aside, they’re still a family of people, just like any family.