Like any good, self-respecting parent in 2022, our lives have been filled with the earworm infecting melodies of Encanto. It all began on Christmas Eve of 2021 when the new film finally dropped on Disney+ and our family watched it for the first time. I knew then that nothing would ever be the same. And despite the fact that we can never talk about Bruno, it certainly hasn’t stopped us from singing about him ad nauseum. The songs of Encanto are deep in our souls, and even Alexa is getting hoarse from singing over and over again. Our kids have been watching Encanto like they’re studying for the Bar exam—that is if you had to dance and sing during the exam.
Yes, that saucy siren, Lin-Manuel Miranda, has become the omnipresent disc-jockey of our home. From the soundtracks of Moana to Vivo to Encanto, Miranda’s unforgettably catchy tunes have become the equivalent of Chick-fil-A sauce in our home: our kids put it on everything.
Now, if you’re behind the curve and have somehow not accepted Encanto into your life, allowing its rhythms to set the tempo of your heart, then fret not! There is still hope and time for repentance. Go watch it now with your family and seek forgiveness from your children for neglecting them and depriving them of such cultural sophistication.
I don’t blog very often about films and media. So, you know that when I do it means something. I’m not being paid to sing Encanto’s praises. Notwithstanding, Disney, feel free to give me a sponsorship… or at least a free month of Disney+. Here’s just a handful of reasons why Encanto is so great:
Passionate Production Design
You can really tell that the people working on this project cared. The quality of everything is just incredible. For example, the costuming is meticulous. If you look closely, you can see that each character’s attire is decorated to represent their gifts and personality. And the way the family members all share distinctive traits while maintaining individuality is remarkable. The siblings actually look like siblings. The cousins actually look like cousins. It’s wild how far digital animation has come. Anyone who still thinks animation is childish is simply jealous because all of their drawings still look like a child’s.
Our family contains a rich Hispanic heritage, and it is so wonderful to see mainstream movies exploring diverse cultures and peoples. I’ve never been to Colombia, but the movie makes me love something about Colombia. And representation is so important. It makes such a difference when a child sees someone who looks and sounds like them in the media. It’s like pizza and ice-cream. They’re so much better with variety. There’s nothing wrong with liking pepperoni and vanilla, but what a dull world it would be if it was just pepperoni and vanilla. And goodness, keep those pineapples away from my slice! Yet, I still believe that those pineapples on someone else’s (my wife’s) pizza somehow makes the world a better place… uh, I think I might have lost the metaphor somewhere a few sentences back.
Powerful, Inspiring Themes
The themes of generational trauma, intrinsic human worth, and family are masterfully explored. I cannot express how happy I was to see a kid’s movie that doesn’t end with the hero having to defeat the villain with violence in order to solve everyone’s problems. What kind of moral is that anyways? And how relatable is that to a normal person? It’s much more meaningful and realistic that the conflict of the story would revolve around the family dynamics and past trauma. Those are things that real people actually have to deal with too. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I wish life was so simple that all I’d have to do is slay a dragon and then it’s all happily ever after. But authentic thriving is way more complicated and requires consistent, intentional effort. Just like the family drama and intense pathos of Bruno’s rats performing Latin soap operas.
And what’s the takeaway? Miranda’s lyrics are almost never subtle. I love this line:
“The miracle is not some magic that you’ve got,
The miracle is you, not some gift, just you.”
As a parent, I deeply desire for my children to receive a message like this. That they are special, valued, and loved simply because of who they are, not because of what they do or don’t do or produce or don’t produce. Also, that right now, they are very hungry caterpillars eating us out of house and home, and one day they must become beautiful butterflies and fly away into tomorrow by getting a job and paying for their own Chick-fil-A sauce.
Now, who else wants a Disney streaming spin-off of Bruno’s rat telenovelas? Ratatouella?