Encanto marks the 60th animated feature film from Walt Disney Animation Studios. You’d be hard pressed to find another studio, animated or otherwise, with a track record quite like that at Disney. Not every movie has been a hit, but the batting average has been absolutely stellar. And based on the early responses to Disney’s newest animated film, movie number 60 may be just as spectacular and ground-breaking as movie number one.
Encanto had its world premiere last night and so the first people have had a chance to see the new Disney animated musical, which combines a story of magic, the music of Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Colombian culture, into a movie that some are already calling stunning.
The new movie tells the story of the Madrigal family, who are all imbued with magical abilities, with the exception of daughter Maribel. But when something begins to happen to the magic, only the one who does not rely on special gifts can try to fix the problem.
While Encanto has a lot in common with many animated Disney classics, it’s a musical adventure with a female protagonist, after all, it also marks a departure for the studio. This is the first narrative feature to focus on South American culture. Following Raya and the Last Dragon Disney is clearly trying to diversify its storytelling, and according to many, Encanto succeeds in this goal.
Animated Disney movies have a long history of great music. And with Lin-Manuel Miranda back on board to write the songs for Encanto following his resounding success with Moana, there was an expectation that the music here, would be something special. And it sounds like the Hamilton maestro came through.
Getting audiences invested in a story emotionally is always the most important battle. And when you’re dealing with animated characters who are yet one step removed from reality, that struggle is that much harder. Having said that, fans have found themselves wiping their eyes at more than one animated movie over the years, and several of those who saw Encanto last night were clearly doing the same thing. When this one comes out you may want to bring tissues.
Full reviews are still to come as Encanto doesn’t actually hit theaters for a few weeks, and it’s anybody’s guess how the first post-pandemic wide release for Disney animation will fair when it comes to the box office, but based on these early responses, it looks like Walt Disney Animation Studios has another hit on its hands. It’s got the beautiful animation, the great music, and the emotional story. The rest of us will get a chance to see if Encanto is quite so magical November 24.