A lot or a little?
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Encanto is an animated Disney musical set in Colombia and featuring Mirabel Madrigal (voiced by Stephanie Beatriz), the youngest granddaughter in a family that protects their enchanted village with the magical powers they've had for two generations ... except for Mirabel. As she helps her cousin prepare for his coming-of-magical-age ritual, she begins to question her role in the family. Expect a few scenes of violence: Mirabel's grandfather is killed by armed men (the actual death isn't shown), and supernatural events and catastrophes threaten the characters. There's also mild name-calling and affection between married characters. Themes of empathy, teamwork, and courage are clear, and there's strong diverse representation on-screen, with White, Black, and multiracial characters all part of the same family and voiced by famous Colombian and Latin American actors. Colombian culture is also well portrayed in the form of music, costumes, dance sequences, and even food, but the filmmaking team, including songwriter Lin-Manuel Miranda, isn't of Colombian heritage.
- Parents say
- Kids say
As huge fans of Moana and Coco, we had high hopes. This fe... Continue reading
What's the story?
In ENCANTO, Mirabel (voiced by Stephanie Beatriz) is a member of the magical Madrigal family, who were bestowed with supernatural gifts emanating from a miracle candle that also created their village and magical house, la casita. Unfortunately for Mirabel, while her relatives have gifts as wide-ranging as controlling the weather, super strength, making flowers grow, healing with food, shape-shifting, super hearing, and seeing the future, she didn't receive a supernatural gift during her coming-of-age ceremony. As her youngest cousin approaches the day that a magical door will reveal his gift, the family nervously prepares. On the day itself, Mirabel has a vision of the casita cracking and crumbling, and she dedicates herself to saving the Madrigals' magical home -- even if it means looking for her mysterious estranged Tio Bruno (John Leguizamo), who could predict the future, and putting herself in dangerous situations.
Is it any good?
Disney's delightful animated musical is a tribute to Colombian culture, magical realism, and the power of multigenerational families. Encanto works on multiple levels. It's a kid-friendly musical with a magical house and relatives, most of them teens and tweens. Main character Mirabel is lovable and loyal, but also the family's beloved but underappreciated underdog, which makes her easy to cheer for and relate to as she tries to prove she's worthy of the family name. Deeper still, the movie's thematic elements are an homage to magical realism, the literary genre that legendary late Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez was famous for elevating, with magical golden butterflies reminding viewers of migration, change, and hope. Beatriz is terrific as Mirabel, and the cast of Colombian actors and singers does a great job with the Germaine Franco-composed/Lin-Manuel Miranda-penned songs, particularly "The Family Madrigal," "We Don't Talk About Bruno," and "All of You." Colombian superstars Carlos Vives and Sebastián Yatra are also prominent on the authentic, cumbia-infused soundtrack (listen for the accordion and percussion!). The movie's attention to cultural detail also includes traditional dress (the embroidered, ruffled tops and skirts and the black-and-white cane hats are iconic) and the making of typical foods like the healing arepas that Mirabel's mami (Angie Cepeda) feeds family and villagers.
Beyond the cultural sensitivity (and it should be noted that, behind the scenes, none of the writer-directors -- Jared Bush, Byron Howard, and Charise Castro Smith -- are Colombian), this is a funny and deeper-than-it-looks family adventure. Audiences will laugh aloud at the animal cameos (Tio Bruno's pet rats are especially entertaining) and the chorus of three village kids who pop up at various key moments for comic relief. They'll also sing along to Miranda's toe-tapping choruses "We don't talk about Bruno-no-no-no" and the Anna-and-Elsa-like duets between Mirabel and each of her two sisters -- big-and-strong Luisa (Jessica Darrow) and perfect-and-pretty Isabela (Diane Guerrero). It's a joy to watch Mirabel bravely protect her family and her town. There's also a simmering truth to the idea that people are much more than what they initially seem. Everyone has gifts and strengths, whether they're obvious or subtle, and what's meaningful is how people use them.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Encanto's messages about embracing differences, learning to rethink weaknesses and strengths, and the importance of family togetherness. What are some other positive themes in the story?
Talk about the family dynamics in the movie. Why does Mirabel feel like she has to prove her worth to her family? How does she display courage, empathy, and teamwork? Why are those important character strengths?
What aspects of Colombian culture are highlighted in the story? How do costumes, music, dance, and food play a role in the movie? How is magical realism, which is associated with Latin American literature, a big part of the movie?
Why does representation behind the camera matter as much as in front of the camera? While most of the movie's cast and the soundtrack's performing musicians are Colombian, the filmmakers themselves aren't. How could a Colombian filmmaker have enriched the film?
- In theaters: November 24, 2021
- Cast: Stephanie Beatriz, John Leguizamo, Wilmer Valderrama
- Directors: Jared Bush, Byron Howard
- Studio: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Brothers and Sisters, Music and Sing-Along
- Character strengths: Courage, Empathy, Teamwork
- Run time: 99 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some thematic elements and mild peril
- Awards/Honors: Common Sense Selection
- Last updated: November 30, 2021
Our editors recommend
For kids who love magical adventures
Find more movies that help kids build character.
Themes & Topics
Browse titles with similar subject matter.
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
Streaming options powered by JustWatch