Encanto - C+
Rated PG, 109 minutes
"Encanto" is the likable, colorful new musical animated film from Walt Disney, their 60th animated film. Revolving around a magical South American family whose powers are at risk, the film comes with high expectations and provides some fun once it gets going. With a sluggish first half and mostly uninspired music, this won't rank as one of Disney's best.
The Madrigals are a special family who lives in an enchanted town in the mountains of Colombia. Every child but one in their magical house has been granted a unique ability such as strength or healing powers. Mirabel ("Brooklyn Nine Nine's Stephanie Beatriz), the only ordinary Madrigal, discovers that the magic is under threat and she may be the only one able to save it.
"Encanto" is brought to life by the Oscar-winning team behind Disney hits "Zootopia" and "Moana," Byron Howard and Jared Bush. Bush co-writes the script with playwright Charise Castro Smith, and the music is scored by "Coco's" Germaine Smith, with added songs written by acclaimed "Hamilton" star Lin-Manual Miranda. The voice talent includes Beatriz, John Leguizamo ("Ice Age"), "Jane the Virgin's" Diane Guerrero and character actress Maria Cecilia Botero.
That said, it's loaded with considerable talent in production and voice, and much of the animation does burst with vivid color. Why then, does it feel like a disappointment? "Encanto" isn't terrible, but by usually high Disney standards, it falls short, for two main reasons: for one, the film doesn't really start popping with some energy until halfway through, which to those with young children, may feel like an eternity. Admittedly, the second half makes up for the slow first half, with enough humor and action to stay more engaged.
Second, and this may make many Miranda's large fan base upset (I'm a big Miranda fan myself), but much of the the music is uninspiring and doesn't stand out. Almost all Disney and Pixar films have at least one signature song it; for example, the 2017 Oscar-winning "Coco," of which this film will be unfairly compared to ("Coco" is far superior if you need to know) has the emotional "Remember Me." While all of the music in "Encanto" is good, none of it is truly memorable, and you're likely not to remember a single song from it after it's over.
All said and done, "Encanto" was enjoyable and I liked it, but it could've been better considering everything. The second half is energetic and funny, but that uneven first half is enough to make anyone drift, and will you be singing any of the music after? Probably not. Even when the Disney effort isn't up to par, it's better than most out there, and is worth a look if you're a Disney fan, but "Coco" this is not.