'Encanto' - Movie Review

"Encanto" is Spanish for "enchantment." Our story opens with the grandmother of the Madrigal family (María Cecilia Botero) telling the story of the origins of the magic that blesses the family and allows them to protect and aid their community. She's telling the story to her granddaughter, Mirabel (Stephanie Beatriz). The story then jumps forward a few years, and shows Mirabel explaining (rapidly, via song) all of her family members and their super powers to some village children. And while she avoids explaining it, we soon find out that she's the only member of the family who doesn't have magical powers.

They're so busy with explication in the form of song that barely any plot actually happens. There are so many people with so many powers, they have a huge amount to explain. But underlying all this is a decent examination of the dynamics of family relations, trauma across generations, and family demands and expectations. The (limited) plot is almost never seen without explanation either in speech or in song (and spectacular, colourful magic realist visuals). And yet ... it works emotionally. For adults as well as children. The children may not understand all of the emotional dynamics, but it's so damn colourful and full of crazy visuals and catchy songs ... how could they not like it?

I was particularly fond of John Leguizamo as Bruno - damaged as a result of misinterpretations of his difficult power, but still charming. Stephanie Beatriz (Detective Roza Diaz of "Brooklyn 99"?!) is good in the lead too. Lin-Manuel Miranda's songs deserve considerable credit. I was also a big fan of of the final door symbolism: unlike all the rest of the family, Mirabel never had a door (and doors are important). But at the end of the film, she gets the most important door of all.