So I watched Encanto…

One of the unsung perks of babysitting in this country is that you get to use people’s streaming accounts even if you don’t have them. I’ve watched a crap ton of Netflix and Disney Plus because of babysitting.

That’s how I watched Vivo…which is a better movie than Encanto, bite me.

Funny because Lin Manuel Miranda worked on both, I just think Vivo’s plot and themes suited his talents better than a Disney Girl musical (since now we aren’t even pretending they’re princesses…although this movie might as well have been about a princess.)

I’m not going to hate on Encanto, it was an enjoyable ride, but after watching it, I do think it is inferior to its predecessors.

I’m sure all of you are too nice to hate on me for saying that, but if I went on a different platform, I think I’d start a riot. Everyone seems to love this movie.

Well, it’s mediocre, sorry, not sorry.

I won’t deny the animation was gorgeous, a joy to watch. The songs were…predictable. The only one I thought really stood out as creative lyrically was the “Pressure” one. Then, Imperfect was okay, and “WE Don’t talk about Bruno” was impressive editing-wise, but lyrics were a little weird, I thought.

But I’m not much for modern musical movies, to be fair. I like old ones better.

i have before unashamedly said that I like Disney movies–some of them–and that Frozen is actually my favorite movie, for personal reasons. See: Why a DP movie is my¬†favorite. Why a DP movie is my favorite part¬†2. I don’t think it’s the most amazing movie ever made, but it stands out form other Disney films, I’m not the only one who thought it has a different vibe, wrapped up in a Disney package, it still somehow felt unique. Thought he haters will never admit it.

Encanto is a beautiful mess, that is my honest opinion. I was interested in the plot while watching it, and the 3 year old I was watching it with loved the music. But I kept waiting for the movie to make its point…and by the end I was just…non plussed.

Encanto basically has two or three over arching themes, and it tries to bring all of them together at the end, but it doesn’t finish any of them. The ending was one of the most rushed I’ve seen in a Disney film, and the characters were not well flushed out. We only get depth on Luisa and Isabel, and it’s dropped after one song.

Abuela’s character being the cause of the magic disappearing was predictable, I called it form the beginning. But that wouldn’t have been bad. I thought it actually added to the idea that families often miss the obvious when it comes to their problems. It’s true in my family, for sure.

I actually thought they were going to do a Brave thing, and make it both the older and younger women had pride and selfishness, and that was the cause of the rift. And the magic of the family was tied to their unity.

The movie implies this, but doesn’t say it.

I could put that down to a wish for subtlety, except every other theme in this movie is blatant and shoved in your face, as with most kids’ movies, so why they would hesitated to spell it out for us, if they actually intended it, I don’t know.

I don’t necessarily mind blatant messages, I think kids need things to be spelled out for them, and adults who watch kid content should be prepared for that. But I think you can do it tastefully and creatively. Just singing it to save time is not tasteful.

The imagery in this movie is probably its best feature. The lights, the candle, the sand, the cracks.

I kind of thought Bruno’s character was less impressive than he could have been, he was exactly what I expected, and the goofy, kooky character seeing the future and then hiding…well, it’s a little old. But it’s not bad, so it’s more of a personal wish than a criticism.

What actually made me mad about this movie was the ending. The first half was quite good, but it was like they ran out of run time. Isabel and Mirabel get over 20 years of disagreeing, (or 18, or whatever it was) and it takes 2 minute of one song for them to suddenly understand each other?

I was the scapegoat and my sister was the golden child, it took us months of disagreeing, and years of tension before that, to work out our differences. Especially when our dad poured gasoline on the fire.

And another thing, I found it stupid that only Mirabel was yelling at Abuela at the end. If Luisa and Isabel were really that miserable, seeing Mirabel do that should have just burst the dam. Especially for Isabel.

Also the magic was so poorly explained.

I know that magic does not always need to be explained in a story, I actually don’t like it when it is, like, We didn’t need an explanation for Elsa’s magic–and the one we got made no sense.

But in this movie, the magic disappearing is the whole point, so that is the time to explain how it works, the entire point of most of the film is Mirabel trying to understand the magic, so explaining it was totally necessary.

And what is explained…nothing!

I mean, I guess the magic relies on the family’s…bond? But then why doesn’t it crack every time one of them fights? The one lady with the weather powers should be having cracks every 10 minutes. Isabel and Mirabel should have been causing issues all along. Then Abuela’s obsession with perfection might actually make more sense.

Or how about this, make the fact that Abuela herself actually has no gift, and just guards the candle and house the reason she doesn’t like Mirabel. Mirabel reminds her of her own mortality, and humanness, and we tend to project our insecurities onto other people. So when she’s yelling at Mirabel, she’s really upset at herself. And Mirabel annoys her by not being as stressed about it as she is. I’ve known that to happen to many people in real life, myself included. Misery loves company.

This is almost implied in the movie…but never enough to be sure it’s actually what it’s saying.

Also, the conflict of this movie is set up poorly.

We’re supposed to be wonder why Mirabel has no gift, right? Well that question is never answered. Ever.

Then we’re supposed to wonder if the gift is becoming a curse…

But the thing is, Mirabel’s mom is a really nice lady, and supportive of all her daughters, and so is their father. Isabel is so driven to be perfect…why?

I can’t recall her ever actually being told she was doing something wrong. Maybe she just wanted to avoid it ever happening, but most people aren’t afraid to fail until they have failed in a painful way, and we never see her do that. Perfectionism comes from not being able to control things when you were a kid, but we get no such story with Isabel.

We never see Luisa told it would be selfish to take a break. She just assumes it.

We’re meant to think Abuela made them think this way just by her example…but even if that is true, no one ever questioned it before? And why do none of the men feel this way? They seem carefree, and happy-go-lucky. No pressure there.

And while the townspeople take advantage of the family’s gifts, they aren’t ever pushy about it.

So why are these two girls so driven? Isabel says she was going to marry the guy for the family…but they never push her to do it, they just assume she wants to marry him. If she’d ever spoken up about it, I’m sure they’d have been happy to push Dolores forward instead. Why does it need to be Isabel?

And by the way, Dolores character had the potential to be so much more compelling. Imagine if you could hear everything? Everything anyone ever said about you? That sounds like a curse to me. Maybe that’s why she tries to be invisible, so people won’t talk bad about her.

Would make relationships difficult, and relaxing. She’s shown to be jumpy, but she doesn’t get her own song, and she doesn’t ever get a moment to explain it. A total waste of potential. I’d say her life is way harder than Isabel’s.

I mean, when the main conflict of your story is your MC just isn’t special enough….what the heck movie? Is that what counts as drama these days? Her family loves her, and the one person who actually is hostile to her, Isabel, is not even in most of the movie, and resolves the conflict in 3 minutes…yay!

Mirabel is all like “I can’t embrace Isabel!” and then 5 minutes later “Oh my gosh, I was so wrong about her!”

Uh…you weren’t really, you just didn’t know why she acted that way, she still acted like a b-word. And perfectionism is no excuse to bully your sister, Isabel. How about an apology?

Nope…nothing.

I mean Isabel could have said she envied Mirabel her freedom to do whatever she wants. Built on the trapped by your gift thing…but nope.

And another thing, if Isabel is so stuck…why doesn’t she want to try something other than growing flowers? Her whole rebellion is spraying herself with colors and growing cacti…who in the heck said she couldn’t grow cacti? Cacti are useful, heck her mom could use aloe to cure people, everyone would be all over that. And she has a whole room to experience with crazy flowers in, and no one else seems to care…what exactly is holding her back?

I mean, Abuela only cares when it becomes convenient for the plot, she never reprimands Isabel before then.

Movie, stop expecting me to assume domestic abuse, actually show it if you want to use it, you coward!

You now that just ticks me off about this film, and every other kids’ media I watch these days. Domestic problems are assumed. No on’es family is actually good, no one is actually happy, it all hast o be fake. You can bet if I see a nice character, I’m going to find out they have skeletons in their closet later in the story.

And while no human is perfect, not all of us are as royally fricked up as the movies imply. Sometimes we just get frustrated once in a while, and guess what, we move on! Some of us actually deal with it in a healthy way. Geez! What is the problem Hollywood?

I think it’s on purpose, the idea of contentment just doesn’t sell, so every character has to have a dark side.

Frozen kicked off this trend–but you know how Frozen made it work?

Because we actually see Elsa’s powers backfire, we see her parents tell her bad advice, we see her fear of herself grow–the movie accomplishes this in 10 minutes. We all perfectly understand why Elsa is afraid, how it affects her, and that Anna is unaware of it.

Then when Elsa goes berserk, we know why. It’s not random, we see the causes.

And her problems instead of being over in 5 minutes, take a whole movie to work through. And are revisited in the shorts and the sequel–which are not great, but at least they aren’t delusional enough to say Elsa is never going to doubt again. Of course she will, but she now lets herself be helped, that was the difference.

Where is this in Encanto? Or should I say Donde esta en la cinema Encanto? (Pretty sure I said that wrong, but my Spanish is not great, and the constant switch in the movie was not as charming as they thought it was. I was just left feeling like the whole thing should have been in Spanish, or English, pick one.)

Nada! Nunca! It’s not there. You won’t find any deepening, or further introspection of any of these characters. One song, that’s it.

That’s one of my problems with the movie.

The other one is the Magic itself, and the Miracle. It’s never explained.

And why Mirabel does not have a gift. She wanted to know.

I think the movie’s biggest mistake here was that when Mirabel went to get her gift, the door began to form…but then it stopped.

If she was truly just not meant to have one, fine. But then why did she start to get it and then it stopped? The candle changed its mind? Hmm?

Sure seems like something went wrong, not looking at Bruno’s excommunication or anything.

And if the family splitting is what lead to the magic cracking, than it would have made perfect sense that Mirabel’s lack of gift was because it weakened after they sent Bruno packing. Like, it literally seems like that’s what they are implying.

Mirabel even sees the same cracks as Bruno. Which could have been taken as maybe she was going to have the same gift as him, because he wasn’t around, but because he still is, she couldn’t get it, and it broke.

Then restoring Bruno the family, and fixing the house should have fixed her problem. But she still has no gift at the end…even though she restore the magic, so she has magic, but no gift….because logic….

You have all the set up to make this make sense…but no pay off? Nothing.

Because oh she’s just special enough without a gift…

(How can not being special be what makes you special? It’s a logical fallacy.)

Well if that’s true, why restore the gifts at all. If it really had become a burden, then just let it go, accept change.

Wasn’t that the message? If you hold onto the past too tightly it crushes the very people you were trying to protect…I thought that’s what they were saying.

But I mean, i’s Disney, so of course the Magic shouldn’t have disappeared at the end…but Mirabel still can’t have a gift because reasons.

Even though it clearly show she didn’t get a gift because something went wrong, setting it right doesn’t give her one…why? She doesn’t want one anymore?

I fail to understand you movie.

I thought they all should have either lost their gifts for good, or never lost them at all. Maybe they just could have corrupted, been twisted, like in Frozen. Because they were used wrong. That’s more true to real life anyway. We don’t lose our talents because of stress, but they do become less pure.

So in the end, this movie has two messages. Or three really. 1. You don’t need a gift to be special, because not being special is what makes you special. (Cure the Incredibles rant about celebrating mediocrity) 2. If you put yourself into one box, it will crush your spirit, it’s okay to have more than one interest and to take a break. 3. Holding onto the past is bad. Embrace the future. (As long as you do it by not forgetting what made your family special in the past and reigniting that flame….get it? Because it’s a candle, we’re so clever).

How did anyone like this movie’s ending? I get liking the songs and story, but the ending? It makes no sense. None few these three messages is finished. Nothing is explained, and there is no truth. Everything goes back to being exactly how it was, except that Isabel goes disco tech, Luisa takes naps, and Dolores gets with the guy who’s about as deep as a kiddie pool.

Mirabel is not a different person than before. And the town is the same…so yeah…

I really thought there could have been something really good there. Heck, even all three of those message together would have been okay, if they were finished. But they aren’t. There is no point of resolution.

An apology is not a resolution if the problem is that complex. That worked in Brave because the mother -daughter conflict is present in the whole movie, shown to be the core of its problems, and is explained as the way to resolve them. Merida humbling herself makes sense, because Pride was her problem.

But the whole family conflict in this movie is so shaky. Not everyone is unhappy. The problem are so minor that literally two conversations fixed them, and Bruno comes back with no fanfare whatsoever, and Mirabel isn’t even the reason.

Mirabel was actually mostly useless, she spends most of the movie making the problem worse, and in the end is the reason the magic goes out…so way to defy negative expectations there, movie.

Guess she really was the bug in the system…and maybe it deserved to crash and burn…so show that. Don’t just make it all go away because apologies!

Ugh…

Perhaps I am oversimplifying. But it was still poorly done.

Encanto is, in my opinion, a product of our culture.

Fewer and fewer movies and show have any definite meaning now. And fewer and fewer people seem to notice it. We are becoming incapable of discerning structure and payoff in a story.

As long as the label diversity is stamped on something, we swallow any amount of lazy writing, and Hollywood knows we will.

Encanto is a badly written movie that would not have stacked up to a 90s Disney Movie, and they have very weak conflicts usually, but at least hey are clear. Ariel may be kind of a bratty teen, but at least I know why. I know why Aladdin wants to be a prince, even if he’s a liar. I know why Mulan is going to war ( and that is one of the best Disney movies there is).

I don’t know that with Encanto. It would have taken like 1 extra song, and 5 minutes to explain, but it’s not there. They could have cut the unnecessary songs and put in actual story, they could have not rehashed the begging like 3 times for padding. It was fixable. How did someone not say “Uh guys, we didn’t answer any of our own questions in this script…can we like…fix that?”

But no one cars, becuase diversity!

I can’t say I see what a magic house really has to do with Columbian culture. Or how themes that are so clearly modern are really representing what makes it special. Kind of the running joke of representation in Disney is that it’s…you know, based in fictional countries, so you can’t really represent real ethnic groups…

I mean, people complain about how all the old movies had white characters…but they were stories form Europe, of course they could have white characters. Whenever the movie were set in other countries, they changed the ethnicity…I never really saw the issue. People just like to complain.

And I don’t mind if a movie is set in a Mexican, or Colombian culture, if it’s good. I enjoy movies like that.

But I won’t approve bad writing just because it was packaged in a nice look, and fun songs.

I’m sure it would be fun to watch Encanto, but it has no meaning. It is gutless, it doesn’t commit to any one message, because it doesn’t have to to be liked, and the creators knew that.

But I think this in underminding our chilrend’s abilty to tell when there even is a emssage in osmeitng.

Implied messages that are not stated are usually called propaganda. Subtle, but propaganda. When a message is boldly stated, it opens itself up to criticism.

But if it’s vague, you can’t really criticize it. So it is gutless, but the implicates are enough to squeeze it by the virtue signalling SJWS, so they think it has meaning.

If you still think I’m being too harsh, I challenge you to take Encanto, Raya and the Last Dragon, and Moana, take a pen, and write down each main element of those movies. each character’s conflict…and then how the movie resolved it.

I defy you to find a way it really was fleshed out. It’s implied, that’s all. Implications don’t help us in real life. People need actual ideas if they will change.

But if you can feed yourself with colorful, but empty visions of meaning, you can fool yourself into thinking you’re being cultured, but you are really being conditioned.

Encanto is not evil or bad in of itself, so much as it is just lazy, but what scare me is it never would have been praise so much a few decades ago, and now it’s haled as top tier.

A Goofy Movie did family conflict better, sue me.

Well, I think I have ranted enough, this movie is not horrible to watch, but I can’t endorse anything it says, as it says nothing whatsoever. That’s my verdict. Watch it for a good time, but don’t expect any substance, and you’ll be fine.

Try Brave or Frozen if you want the exact same message but with an actual message. Or any of the renaissance era movies.

Until next time, stay honest–Natasha.

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