PG for mostly abstract concepts. The house is dying. How do I put something in an MPAA warning section with "A house is dying." If it wasn't a sentient house, I would have to put "PG for entropy." Because the house is falling apart, the protagonist is often put in situations of peril. She also yells at her elder at one point, which can be pretty upsetting for kids. The scariest thing is how refugees are treated. PG.
DIRECTORS: Jared Bush, Byron Howard, and Charise Castro Smith
Why do I put off writing? I think I've been justifying being actually less goal oriented in 2022 due to my obsession with habits. It's just so stressful. I knew that there would only be so much time to write over break without others feeling it, so I threw this to a later time. Now, here I am a week later, trying to remember the details to a movie that kind of just fit into the middle of a family friendly break. I know that I've been reading that people have been crying over this movie. I can't say that I'm there. But I'm also in the "Rah rah, Disney" camp, impressed by the movies that they've been putting out. Encanto might be another example of how Disney is in another Golden Era of animation.
Somehow, Encanto is a paradox. It's both an extremely tiny movie and monstrously large at the same time. The world is ultimately contained to a house. If you really wanted to split hairs, it has to do with a self-contained supernatural valley that uses the house as a power-center, but the story is about the house. But considering that the house is alive and oddly the Macguffin of the movie, you really can't ignore that there's apparently this deep legend to this house. It's also got a giant cast considering that the Familia Madrigal is ginormous. It does get a little confusing what the relationship between all of the characters is. But there are some characters that matter more than others. So Disney packed all of this lore into a loosey goosey segment and I'm going to say that it does the job that it needs to.
But my wife was questioning whether or not Encanto had a message that was worthy of Disney. I'm going to give her a lot of credit because she said this before the movie was over. Often, the action sequences of Disney movies are completely superfluous to the very heavy theme. While I love the message of Up, the action seems arbitrary. Not so much with Encanto. It does occasionally put the theme on the backburner, causing us to forget that there is a message about the role of tradition. If anything, Encanto is the anti-Boomer movie. (Okay, I'm talking about the wide paintbrush Boomer movie, not individual Boomers. ) Mirabel is the new Millennial. There's this constant reminder from an older audience that she's in no way special. Some people treat her with kid gloves, but ultimately she's this blight on her family. She has a good attitude to who she is, but she feels the pain of the stigma of her family. She can't contribute like her family can and, despite her enthusiasm, she can't be seen as an equal. It is in the fact that she is entirely defined by her contribution to the society that causes a rift between Mirabel and her grandmother, the personification of disappointment. Abuela Alma seems almost vitriolic because Mirabel doesn't have a gift. We know that Alma isn't evil, but she has this very Disney-villain attitude for holding resentment against the protagonist despite Mirabel technically doing nothing wrong.
It's in this moment that I realize that Encanto being a smaller scoped movie kind of works for it. Because for all of the superpowers being thrown around in the movie, the story is about trying to live up to unreasonable expectations throughout. There are two messages about family walking this tightrope throughout the piece that makes the movie worth watching. The one is Mirabel and her cousins. There's a distance there that comes from the needs of the individual contributing to the collective. Mirabel might get along with Luisa, but the two live in different worlds. They hardly know each other until the powers start to diminish. It is once their productivity is removed that they start seeing the vulnerability in each other. Isabela almost amplifies Abuela's attitude towards Mirabel. Mirabel almost becomes this welfare like character in the family. Isabela loathes Mirabel and finds this unhealthy need for perfection in juxtaposition to Mirabel's almost worthlessness. But once Isabela starts making mistakes, the real person comes out. There is a bond found there not in the the gifts of the other, but in the failings.
But it's in the Abuela and Mirabel relationship that the story finds its real value. Instead of being completely dismissive of the Boomer generation, we get an understanding of why Abuela is so cold to the unsuccessful Mirabel. Abuela has guarded her heart for so long because she's been protecting everyone the entire time. Mirabel's lack of superhuman power represents the vulnerability that her family hasn't seen since the revolution. Abuela becomes this real person unlike many of Disney's villains. (Again, Abuela is not a villain, but she's definitely the antagonist of the piece.) It's when we see her escaping the revolutionaries in Columbia that she becomes very real. It's that age and that forgetting that happens when the heart hardens over time. They have so much in common. Abuela, for her obsession with powers, is technically as powerless as Mirabel and we forget that very quickly. These two actually have a lot in common and it's when everything that is extra is stripped away, these two find the value in each other.
But it isn't a perfect movie. I mean, I loved it. But there's something that isn't there. I don't quite know what it is. My wife was meh about the music, but I liked it. Sure, I'm not going to stream the soundtrack like we do with In the Heights, but it has a couple of really strong numbers in there. Maybe it is its lack of scope that causes it to be kind of forgettable. Regardless, it is worth a watch, even if it isn't perfect.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.