A New Disney Animated Movie Hits Disney+ Today

A new Disney animated movie arrives on Disney+ today, Christmas Eve – and it is Ecanto! This Walt Disney Animation 2021 release came out in theaters during the Thanksgiving holdiay, but it's still arguable whether audiences turned out like they would have before the COVID-19 pandemic (which had its Delta variant surge during late November.) Encanto still made $180 million worldwide (low for a Disney animated movie, best opening weekend for an animated movie in the post-pandemic era), but it definitely has room to grow an audience. The Christmas holiday is a perfect time to get that process started. 

"Encanto tells the tale of an extraordinary family, the Madrigals, who live hidden in the mountains of Colombia, in a magical house, in a vibrant town, in a wondrous, charmed place called an Encanto. The magic of the Encanto has blessed every child in the family with a unique gift from super strength to the power to heal every child except one, Mirabel (Brooklyn Nine-Nine's Stephanie Beatriz). But when she discovers that the magic surrounding the Encanto is in danger, Mirabel decides that she, the only ordinary Madrigal, might just be her exceptional family's last hope."

In addition to Stephanie Beatriz, Encanto stars María Cecilia Botero, John Lguizamo, Mauro Castillo, Diane Guerrero, Jessica Darrow, Angei Cepeda, Rhenzy Feliz, and Wilmer Valderrama. It is co-directed by Jared Bush, Byron Howard, and Charise Castro Smith, from a screenplay co-written by the trio. Jason Hand, Nancy Kruse and superstar composer Lin-Manuel Miranda also helped with the story and/or composition. 

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Here's what critics said about Encanto when it was released: 

Owen Gleiberman for Variety, wrote that Encanto is"lively, lovely, lushly enveloping digitally animated musical fairy tale" with songs that are "syncopatedly infectious, word-weavingly clever, and unabashedly romantic." Comparing the film to 2013 winter blockbuster Frozen, Gleiberman added that Encanto is "neither as grand nor as haunting" as the musical about Anna and her magical sister Elsa but "very much a follow-up rhapsody on what it feels like for a girl to reach for abilities that will unleash her true self." 

The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw was far less enamored with the film, calling Encanto typical Disney product: 

"This musical, boasting a lively voice cast and original songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda, has been promoted as the 60th "canonical" film from Walt Disney Animation Studios. But however well-meaning, this milestone movie could almost represent a creative crisis for Disney – it feels like yet another step down the cul-de-sac of bland, algorithmically generated entertainment: more Stepford content from the dream factory. There are some nice moments and sweet show tunes, but Encanto feels like it is aspiring to exactly that sort of bland frictionless perfection that the film itself is solemnly preaching against, with a contrived storyline that wants to have its metaphorical cake and eat it."

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You can make up your own mind now that Encanto is streaming on Disney+, free to anyone with a full subscription plan.