By MARK KENNEDY, AP Entertainment Writer
Mirabel is extraordinary, in the sense that when it comes to her family, she is completely normal.
It’s the setup of Disney’s absolutely charming new animated musical “Encanto”, which reverses the typical scenario of a children’s movie. Instead of a few magical people in the middle of an ordinary sea, here the ordinary is, well, strange.
“I’ll stand to the side / When you shine,” Mirabel sings to her special siblings, though she confesses, “I’m not doing well.”
It’s only fitting that âEncantoâ – powered by eight original songs from âHamiltonâ creator Lin-Manuel Miranda – turns into this most special thing of all: a triumph in all categories: art, song and heart. .
It starts with Mirabel Madrigal, a saucer-eyed, sweet-hearted young girl from a magical family in Colombia, where their vibrant home spans many generations. Each madrigal at the age of 5 reveals an inner magic, for example, changing shape, talking to animals, super strength or powerful hearing. They in turn help the surrounding community.
But the magic has somehow ignored Mirabel (voiced by Stephanie Beatriz), who as she becomes a young girl still tries to be useful among an Avenger-type family of siblings. âGift or no gift, I’m just as special as the rest of my family,â she says.
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But soon all does not go well for this family whose magic was built on tragedy. Cracks – literally – appear in the foundations of their house, and their stern matriarch, Abuela Alma, quietly worries that their magic might fail. It’s up to Mirabel to investigate what is going on and save the family.
Directors Byron Howard, Jared Bush, and Charise Castro Smith fill this story with their own magic – expressive faces, acres of shining flowers, dancing rats, fun donkeys, and a house that becomes a character itself, complete with shutters. that move for the waves and the tiles that move with enthusiasm.
The voice cast includes John Leguizamo, Wilmer Valderrama, Maluma, Adassa, MarÃa Cecilia Botero, Angie Cepeda, Diane Guerrero and Jessica Darrow.
Miranda takes inspiration from musical theater in her first song, “The Family Madrigal”, which sets the table by introducing the extended clan, and creates “Waiting on a Miracle” for Mirabel, our courageous and bespectacled heroine, who stops time. sing his plaintive tune.
He gives the rock “What Else Can I Do?” to a sister-in-law who makes flowers bloom but is secretly agitated, and he gives the super strong sister the song “Surface / Pressure”, which reveals the secret stress she is feeling. And there’s the terrific, fun band tune âWe’re Not Talking About Bruno,â about a family outcast. (Also listen to some of the fun Miranda has with another Disney hit, “Let It Go”).
The action, technically, takes place mostly in the rambling house, though there are some magical parts that defy physics. There is also no traditional villain, just a discomfort as the magic wears off.
As always in a Disney animated film, the visuals are a delight. Watch as a butterfly motif is subtly depicted in the pattern of Mirabel’s dress. There is also a panoramic photo of the Colombian community at dusk with its lights and candles lit, warm and welcoming.
âEncantoâ is a film about the pressure to meet high expectations and the fear of revealing imperfections. They are outcasts and misfits in plain sight. âSometimes family nutters get a bad rap,â is one line. âYou are more than just a gift,â is another message. Behind it all, there is also an encouragement for immigration and how we should lend our gifts to the community. It’s the Thanksgiving movie we need in 2021.