This upbeat but poignant animated musical benefits from Miranda's signature genre-blending songs, an adorable main character, and Estefan's memorable voice. Sony Pictures Animation was brilliant to strike a deal with Miranda in 2016 to collaborate with their team for this tale of music, love, and friendship. The movie, which Netflix eventually acquired, is sure to strike a chord with the Broadway superstar's devoted Hamilfans, as well as families looking for a colorful, sweet musical with catchy songs, vibrant animation, and a funny (if occasionally perilous) adventure that will remind audiences to appreciate supportive parents, loyal friends, and the ability to tell people you love them while you still have the chance. In addition to Miranda's inimitable voice, Estefan is perfectly cast as the Celia Cruz-like musical superstar who left Cuba decades earlier to build a career in Miami. Acclaimed Cuban musician de Marcos González is wonderful as Andrés, and young Simo shares a believable rapport with both Saldana and Miranda; she also holds her own while rapping and pretending to be off-key (it's a running gag that while music is in her blood, she hasn't quite captured her talent yet).
Brian Tyree Henry and Nicole Byer stand out in their supporting roles as spoonbills who finally get together after eight "dating" seasons thanks to Vivo's seize-the-day encouragement, and Michael Rooker is fairly scary as Lutador the python, a husky-voiced apex predator of the Everglades. Directors Kirk DeMicco and Brandon Jeffords capture the movie's various tropical locales with detailed, differentiating characteristics, making it easy to distinguish between Havana, Key West, the Everglades, and Miami. The Everglades sequences are particularly impressive, with all of the colorful animals and the general sense of unease the swampy mangroves and marshes present to both an unfamiliar animal and humans alike. The movie's vibrant landscapes are best put to use as backdrops for its many original songs, all of which have thoughtful, reflective lyrics about everything from family and grief to loneliness and friendship to love and the importance of following your dream.