There are earworms that seem to be universal at least in households with young children. Let It Go from Disney’s Frozen has been penetrating our brains for almost two decades with no end in sight. There are others popular tunes, some that trigger fear in parents’ brains. While theater people shudder when the actual name of the Danish Prince is spoken backstage, parents of young children run for cover when the little fish and its list of relatives in size order swim into the brain. You’re a goner. It’s fact not superstition.
Disney has done it again, this time with the help of Lin Manuel Miranda and the movie Encanto. Translated to English, encanto means charm. Encanto follows a Colombian family, the Madrigals, through the eyes of several generations. Each one has a special gift in the eyes of the matriarch, Abuela Alma. That is everyone except, Mirabel, the film is a bit fuzzy on the why of this omission but it is Mirabel who knows the towns children beyond the walls of the Madrigal compound. Her sense of inclusiveness is the gift that saves the family in the end.
As the movie progresses each family member struggles with their ‘gift.’ Notably there is Uncle Bruno, the only son of Abuela Alma. He was the ‘man of the house’ since his father died as the young family fled a dangerous local situation. It seems that his opinion was always sought after because he was the only guy. How typical. But Bruno acts like snarky brother, telling his sister that it will rain on her wedding day because he noticed that she was nervously sweating. As the soundtrack of Encanto climbs the billboard charts the all-pervading earworm is Bruno’s.
We don’t talk about Bruno, no, no no.
Hear the whole song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bvWRMAU6V-c
Bruno notices the obvious and that doesn’t embrace the family tradition according to Abuela Alma. He becomes estranged from the family. Bruno was always in the no win situation.
Gifts can be curses. Mirabel discovers that her oldest sister Isabella is miserable trying always to be perfect and beautiful.
One surprise in the movie is Luisa. It has been rumored that the animators had to fight with Disney for their vision of Luisa. It seems to be a example of ‘copypasta,’ internet meme gone wild that based on an individual whim, not fact.. However, if little girls are identifying with this strong, muscular woman, I’ll call it progress.
When Luisa sang Surface Pressure, I felt an instant kinship.
Give it to your sister, your sister’s stronger
See if she can hang on a little longer
Who am I if I can’t carry it all?
If I falter
Yup, that’s me. My gift is my dependability. .
Mirabel becomes the family confidante first of her young cousin Antonio, both her sisters, her Uncle Bruno. It is to Mirabel that Abuela Alma spills her heart. Her gift was , being comfortable in her own skin.
The proverbial be yourself. Mirabel didn’t recognize her gift but neither did Abuela Alma. She raised her three babies alone, relying on her inner strength. Nothing guarantees everyday happiness.
Luisa knew that.
I move mountains, I move churches
And I glow ’cause I know what my worth is
I’m with Luisa.