Well, Disney has done it again. Over the winter holiday they released “Encanto,” their latest in a run of animated musicals. And let me tell you, I watched it 125,283 times in the first week… and loved every minute of it. Some spoilers follow, but I promise to not completely ruin it for those of you who have not yet seen the movie.
Warning: This is not a set-it-and-forget-it movie. You can’t just put it on, start watching, walk away to change the laundry, come back, and know what’s happening. You actually have to watch it. At least in the beginning. Now that I’ve seen it over a million times, I can come and go, but that definitely was not the case with the first few viewings.
“Encanto” tells the story of the magical Madrigal family — a family where each member has a special gift. Except for Mirabel. On the surface, they are perfect. But, of course, no one is perfect (not even in the magical world of Disney).
And this is where it gets relatable, at least from this mom’s perspective: Everyone is trying so darn hard. Trying to make everyone else happy. Trying to help the family. Trying to maintain the magic. Trying to make Abuela proud. Trying not to disappoint their community. Trying to hold on, too tightly, to everything they are and everything they are supposed to be. To the point where they all begin to crack.
What “Encanto” teaches, through songs like “Surface Pressure,” “What Else Can I Do,” and “Dos Oruguitas,” is that when we are both vulnerable and honest, we are able to best serve ourselves and each other. Each character has to learn that they are more than their magic (or lack of magic).
With Lin Manuel Miranda at the musical helm, the tracks are catchy, clever, and meaningful. There’s no major love interest and no far-off quest, but the movie is full of adventure with a heavy emphasis on family. “Dos Oruguitas” (two caterpillars) is my favorite song from the soundtrack. It’s beautifully written and sung and is about how love can sometimes constrict, but true love is something that allows the freedom to grow and change in order to become a mariposa (butterfly).
The movie resonates in our family — we use it to remind each other that not everything has to be beautiful to be good. We use it to remind each other that sometimes being strong means asking for help. We use it to remind each other that letting go is sometimes better than holding on. There is, however, one thing we don’t do: We don’t talk about Bruno… except when we do. Which is all the time.
If you haven’t seen “Encanto” yet, it’s available on Disney+, and it is well worth the watch. We love it and watch it at least once per weekday and about three times each weekend day — and I’m totally fine with that.