Encanto needed more time.
Encanto, a 2021 musical film from Walt Disney Animation Studios, is a movie that touched heavily on the subject of generational trauma, a subject that many avoid but need to address. The story is centered on a Latino family, The Madrigals, who have supernatural abilities that the people in the village admire them for. Their neighbors view them as a perfect family, when they are far from that. I truly did enjoy this movie during my winter break like many other people did, but the last fourth of the film ruined the experience for me a bit because it felt incomplete. Encanto would have worked much better as a mini series instead of a film because so much happened in so little time, which resulted in the ending of the motion picture being unsatisfying.
The movie focuses on Mirabel Madrigal, the only biological member of the Madrigal family other than her grandmother, to not have supernatural abilities. It’s one of the first things we learn about her character in this story because her cousin with enhanced hearing, Dolores Madrigal, tells the audience. Because Mirabel is the outcast of her family, she is treated differently by her grandmother, Alma, and older sister Isabela, who see her as a nuisance. Alma pushes her family to be perfect, which results in them being unhappy but never bringing it up. The family’s home begins to feel apart, so Mirabel builds the courage to find out why it’s breaking. Mirabel also wants to learn why her uncle Bruno was sent away, and goes on a quest to find him. She learned that the toxicity within their family caused by Alma was the reason why everything, the family and their home, was falling apart. While we learn about The Madrigals through dialogue and actions, we also learn about them through songs. Encanto is a unique take on the subject of dysfunctional families, but it was not executed too well in the end when it came to forgiveness and healing.
My main issue with Encanto is that there are too many characters in this film that contribute little to nothing to the plot. The key storyline in the movie is Bruno’s disappearance and return. Mirabel, Dolores, Isabela, and Alma contributed to the Bruno arc. Camilo, Mirabel’s cousin that has the gift of shapeshifting, had no storyline; all he did was annoy his family. Juleita, Mirabel’s mom, was there to let her daughter know she was not strange for not having powers. Lusia, Mirabel’s second older sister, was placed in the story to show how she wasn’t enjoying her supernatural strength because Alma pushed her to do all the heavy lifting in the village. Pepa, Mirabel’s aunt, emotions controlled the climate; she was constantly stressed because she could not express how she truly felt because Alma didn’t want bad weather. Pepa losing it is what contributed a bit to the house falling apart. Antonio, the youngest member of the family being five years old, discovers he has the power to talk to animals, which makes Mirabel upset because she is officially the only Madrigal grandchild with no special talent. Antonio mattered for this reason, but once Mirabel moved past her sadness he’s just there. He did not do anything important for the remainder of the movie. Antonio’s age was partly to blame as to why he was not very relevant after the first third of the story because there is only so much you can do with a child character that young. Felix, Mirabel’s uncle, was mostly there as support for his wife Pepa. Agustin, Mirabel’s dad, gave her a shoulder to lean on. Other than being supportive fathers and husbands, they were both a bit useless. You can get rid of half of the Madrigal family and nothing would change the most important storyline all that much. This is the reason why the movie did not feel finished at the end. Encanto was oversaturated with interesting characters and events that were left hanging.
Isabela’s apology to her youngest sister Mirabel, did not feel genuine. From what we picked up from the film, Isabela had been very cold towards Mirabel for a long time. So when they made up in less than five minutes it was not convincing enough. In this scene it is revealed that the reason Isabela was so mean to her was because of Alma’s influence, leading her to believe that her sister was a bad person. It’s great that we learn that was the reason for her nasty actions, but Isabela was constantly mean mugging her up until she revealed what was wrong. After Mirabel makes up with her sister quickly with a song, we don’t see much of Isabela anymore for the rest of the story. I am not saying that Mirabel should not have forgiven her sister, but it was not very convincing because the film moved on to Mirabel going off on Alma for being cruel to her and the house collapsing. Encanto is musical, meaning that the songs move the plot along, but this movie depends heavily on realism. Using music to make up for sibling bullying felt out of place.
The story could have benefited from sitting, and by sitting, I mean slowing down a bit. According to Nevada Production Crew(2018), “If a movie’s pacing is too fast, it can leave viewers either bombarded with too much information too quickly or leave them wanting more and feeling as if there was a lot of good storytelling or background information that was glazed over.” Encanto moved so fast, it was a bit hard for the viewers to care for the characters the way the directors and writers wanted them to. Disney animated films have been getting longer as the years go on, as their films are now extended one-hundred minutes. This is because their newer workers touch on more complex subjects that need more time to flesh out. Even though Encanto is one of Disney’s longer films, it still did not feel finished. Charlie Boyle states “fans have noticed that Encanto has some glaring plot holes that just can't be ignored.” The movie’s quick pacing made it hard to digest what was happening, which resulted in plenty of confusion to the point where people were on Reddit asking questions about certain plot points because they did not understand. If Encanto was a mini series, a show with limited episodes, we would have been able to fully understand why the characters acted the way they did, making it easier to sympathize with them.
I truly did enjoy Encanto; the beautiful scenery, great music, and interesting characters is what made the movie most valuable in my opinion. As much as I liked the film, I did not enjoy it as much as I wanted because the last twenty-five minutes before the ending credits ruined my experience; it was rushed. Encanto is not a bad movie, it just needed more time. I would love to see these characters again in the near future, not only because they are all so entertaining, but so they can get the proper storytelling they deserve.
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