By Mark Saldana

Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)

Lin-Manuel Miranda has worked with Disney previously in multiple ways. He has previously contributed songs, and has made different appearances in some of their movies, and his latest contribution to “The House of the Mouse” once again proves to be a great success. In Encanto, Miranda contributes songs and music in ways closer in tune to his cultural background in Disney’s Colombian-inspired movie. Though Encanto certainly comes across as a Disney-fied interpretation of Colombian culture, the film nevertheless features timeless and relevant themes about family and how familial pride can harm that which keeps a family tightly knit. Featuring gorgeous animation and a mostly compelling story, Encanto is a remarkable and entertaining offering by Disney.

As told through the mind and eyes of protagonist MIrabel Madrigal (Stephanie Beatriz), Encanto tells the story of the Madrigal family, and how they endured hardship and adversity to become powerful and magical protectors of their village. Though several members of the Madrigal family display magical gifts, Mirabel is the one black sheep who has yet to discover what she must bring to the family. On the day that Mirabel’s cousin Antonio is to discover his special power, she begins to see the cracks and problems within her family that could threaten to destroy all for which they have fought hard and have been blessed to receive.

Written and directed by Jared Bush, who co-directed with Byron Howard and co-wrote with Charise Castro Smith, Encanto is a gorgeous and riveting movie that has some pertinent messages with which audiences can relate. The movie is a folk tale that makes some commentary and statements about pride, but also deals with the acceptance of those who are different from the expected norm, and how their special abilites and qualities can enrich that which already exists.

In addition to the beautiful animation and vibrant characters in the movie, the songs of Lin-Manuel Miranda add another level of entertainment which make the whole experience much more enjoyable and mostly fulfilling. Though not all of the songs are at equal levels of memorability, this wonderful story would not have had the same impact had it not been a musical. Miranda has much talent when it comes to enhancing stories and his work, and Encanto is no exception.

The movie has a wonderful voice cast which includes Maria Cecilia Botero, Diane Guerrero, Jessica Darrow, Angie Cepeda, Wilmer Valderrama, and much more. The real stars, however, are definitely Stephanie Beatriz, who brings much joy and vulnerability to character Mirabel and John Leguizamo who protrays another family black sheep in the role of Bruno. Both Beatriz and Leguizamo deliver performance full of vigor and passion, and bring their own signature skills of comedy when it comes to the humor in the film.

Encanto might not exactly be Disney’s most extraordinary movie, but it is definitely one that I highly recommend for families to enjoy on the big screen. It is a film full of life, excitement, and passion, with some fun songs. It is a movie I am sure will please families of all cultures, and will certainly charm people of LatinX cultures.

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