I went into this movie entirely blind. I didn’t even know it existed until a week or so ago, and I hadn’t seen a trailer or read a blurb about it. I did know that the critics are largely for it, though.
As the opening exposition was dumped, I had a little conversation with myself:
“This is a lot. This is a lot of really weird stuff. This setup is completely bizarre and convoluted,” said one part of me.
“Okay, but,” said the other part, “all you do is bitch about how every new movie is either a remake, an adaptation, a sequel, or some other safe cash-grab like 8-bit Christmas that is a marketing angle first, and a story second. You cannot keep making these complaints AND be this fussy about something that is challenging you with its originality.”
And so I adjusted my attitude, and sat back to just let it wash over me. After about 5 minutes I was into it, and from then on it was pretty smooth.
Encanto is a beautiful film. To this point, my favorite (that’s not to say the best) Pixar movie has been (and remains) Coco, but it is easy to see here that the amount of technical progress and the artistry it allows from film to film is unstoppable.
I’m no advocate for 3D animated films. I’m a curmudgeonly child of the early 90s Cartoon Network, which is to say, recirculated 20th century cartoons and all that anime had to offer until it too went down the 3D mudslide. That being said, they aren’t going away, and pretending 3D animation is inferior to 2D animation is not something I am prepared to do. As long as 3D animation is the norm, I should hope that it can somehow continue to keep evolving into ever more striking and beautiful forms. In that regard, Encanto is captivating.
The music is often very good, too. I guess that’s up to Lin-Manuel Miranda. I am not as infatuated with his work as most people seem to be, but I must admit the man knows how to write an earworm. That said, I do think the rap-adjacent, rapid-fire lyrics are more challenging than they need to be. But then maybe I’m just an old square.
I rather like that this movie doesn’t have a traditional (read: any) villain. In operating outside all the strict storytelling standards of the modern movie marketplace, this film feels more like an original, authentic fairytale than a typical Disney movie. Most of the time.
You can still intuit the directions the movie will move in, and I won’t pretend that being the most original Disney film I’ve seen in a long time makes it the most original anything else I’ve seen in a long time, but it is wholly pleasant, and wholesome, approachable and sweet. Coco is still the one that hits me hardest in the tear duct activation center, but it had my roommate and her mother sobbing by the end.
I’d have liked it to be a little funnier, and for the cousin characters to have more character development than just the songs that tell us what they’ve been feeling all their lives until now, but this movie has an effortless charm and I am looking forward to seeing it again in the future.
I’m giving this movie an 8 out of 10 and calling it Good. You can watch this film in theaters. And maybe on Disney+ with an extra surcharge? I don’t know. Watch this in a theater.