Review: Family makes ‘Encanto’ magical

“Encanto” is an animated musical by Walt Disney Animation Studios. The fantasy comedy about a Colombian family with magical powers features the voices of Stephanie Beatriz as Mirabel Madrigal, the young protagonist, who does not have a special gift, unlike her relatives.

"Encanto" is a new animated musical from Walt Disney Animation Studios featuring original songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda. The fantasy-comedy is playing at the Lakes 12 Theatre in Baxter and the Sunset Cinema in Jenkins. Frank Lee / Brainerd Dispatch

BAXTER — Do you believe in magic?

The Madrigals certainly do. The extraordinary family has made a home for themselves and founded a community hidden in the mountains of Colombia that is nothing short of magical.

RELATED: Now showing at Lakes 12 Theatre and Sunset Cinema
Alma Madrigal, the matriarch of the family, fled with her husband from the violence that plagued parts of the South American country but was widowed under tragic circumstances.

Born out of the heartbreak, the young Alma perseveres with their triplets under the cover of darkness with only a candle to light the way away from the death and destruction.

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The candle becomes imbued with magical properties and out of nothing creates a domicile for Alma’s young family to seek shelter in. The sentient house becomes a home to set up roots.

The Spanish word “encanto” means “charm” in Spanish, and “Encanto,” the latest animated film from Walt Disney Animation Studios is not without its charms, according to most.

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“Encanto” holds an impressive 90% approval rating among critics and an even better 93% approval rating among audiences at Rotten Tomatoes, a review-aggregation website for film and television.

The critics consensus reads: “‘Encanto’s’ setting and cultural perspective are new for Disney, but the end result is the same — enchanting, beautifully animated fun for the whole family.”

And family is at the heart of “Encanto,” a new release playing at the Lakes 12 Theatre in Baxter and the Sunset Cinema in Jenkins.

Members of the Madrigal family are gifted with superhuman abilities they use to help the villagers. However, Mirabel, the youngest daughter of triplet Julieta and Alma’s granddaughter, is neglected, overlooked or discounted by her family for most of the movie for having no gift at all.


“Gift or no gift — I am just as special as the rest of my family.”

— Mirabel Madrigal

Every child in the Madrigal family has been blessed with a unique gift upon coming of age, from superhuman strength to the power to heal and more, except for the young girl Mirabel.

Rather than becoming bitter, jealous, hateful, petty or worse, Mirabel has mostly accepted her station in life, her supportive role in the family, and champions her more outwardly gifted members of her extended family who use their powers and talents to better their community.

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Mirabel comes to have visions that the magic that has run through her family’s veins could soon be at an end, she tries to warn her relatives of the existential threat but to no avail.

Alma, in particular, discounts Mirabel’s dire warnings as attention-getting ploys by an adolescent seeking to steal the spotlight from one of her younger relatives who is about to become gifted.

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“Gift or no gift — I am just as special as the rest of my family,” Mirabel tries to convince one of the village’s many children.


The young girl replies, “Maybe your gift is being in denial.”

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Undeterred, Mirabel decides she has to try and save her family — even if she hasn’t exactly figured out how she plans to set about accomplishing the seemingly impossible task.

“Encanto” is vibrantly animated with original songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda, best known for creating and starring in the Broadway musicals “In the Heights” and “Hamilton.” The award-winner of Puerto Rican-Mexican descent also wrote music and songs for Disney’s “Moana.”


“Encanto” was co-directed by Jared Bush and Byron Howard, the creative talents behind other family-friendly animated films such as “Zootopia,” “Bolt” and “Tangled.”

The themes of the fantasy-filled “Encanto” included very relatable, down-to-earth and “teachable” ones to those with young children in the coming-of-age story, such as sacrificing for the greater good; discovering one’s gifts or talents; finding one’s purpose in life; and more.

The PG-rated movie runs almost two hours and stars Stephanie Beatriz as Mirabel. Audiences may recognize the actress of Columbian-Bolivian descent from her role as Detective Rosa Diaz in the NBC police comedy series "Brooklyn Nine-Nine."


FRANK LEE may be reached at 218-855-5863 or at . Follow him on Twitter at .

Frank Lee.jpg
Frank Lee

Frank Lee.jpg
Frank Lee

Frank Lee.jpg
Frank Lee

I cover the community of Wadena, Minn., and write features stories for the Wadena Pioneer Journal. The weekly newspaper is owned by Forum Communications Co.
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