Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Save the Miracle, Save the Madrigals

Directors: Jared Bush and Byron Howard
Voice Talent: Stephanie Beatriz, John Leguizamo, Diane Guerreo, Wilmer Valderrama, Jessica Darrow, Maria Cecelia Botero
Released: November 24, 2021

Oscar nominations:
Best animated movie (won)

So if you can believe it, I went this long without ever hearing a note from "We Don't Talk About Bruno." All I knew was that Bruno was the uncle in this family and all I could wonder was what Bruno did that his name is never spoken. I was thinking it had to be something pretty nefarious! Spoiler alert: not really. 

We are introduced to the Madrigals, a magical family who lives in Colombia. Their home (Casita!) houses the candle that "holds the miracle given to the family." There are many, many members of the Madrigal family, but Mirabel (voiced by Stephanie Beatriz) is the protagonist and as a young girl, her Abuela tells her (and the audience, let's be real here) the story of how their family received the miracle. When she and her husband, Pedro, are forced out of their home with their newborn triplets because of civil conflict, I'm assuming, her husband is "lost" (a nicer word for "killed" in a Disney movie) and his sacrifice gave them the miracle: "The candle became a magical flame that could never go out" and it created an "Encanto" where it changed the landscape around them and gave them a magical house (and it's a pretty cool house, I must say), Casita! When her triplets became "of age" (which appears to be around five or six; when has that ever been the age for becoming of age? Seems a bit young to me!), "the miracle blessed each with a magic gift to help [them]." And their children would also receive "magic gifts" when they became of age too. 

Like I said, this is a big family and we have a lot of people to introduce (in fact, the very first song in the movie is pretty much about how many people are in the Madrigal family and what their magical gift is and trying to keep them straight. I admit, I was confused with who was who, but by the middle of the movie, I was able to keep everyone straight. So here is everyone in the family and what their magical gift is:

-Like I mentioned earlier, Abuela (I don't remember if we ever know her first name, she just seems to go by "grandmother") is the matriarch of the Madrigal family. She doesn't really have a magical gift as she was too old to acquire one, but I guess she's the "Keeper of the Flame", so to speak. Abuela's triplets are Julieta, Peppa, and Bruno. Of course, we don't talk about Bruno...but I will tell you that his gift is he can see the future. Some of his "predictions" are just super obvious things that will happen (such as a goldfish dying). This ability of seeing the future doesn't have the townspeople too keen on him and that's one of the reasons he leaves, but also because he saw a vision he didn't like. I would definitely hate to have this so-called gift. Maybe some people would like to predict the future, but not me. All I would do is worry about when I will die or when someone close to me will die and that's literally all I will think about and worry about. 

Her two daughters are both married and they each have three children themselves. Let's start with Pepa:

-Pepa's gift is that she can control the weather. I think. Honestly, I was a little confused because it seems like she would just control the weather literally over her head as a storm cloud would appear over her head if she was in a very bad mood or if she was in a good mood, no rain. But when it was raining right over her head, it didn't appear to be raining anywhere else in their town. Controlling the weather would be something I wouldn't mind to have. I would never make it snow, especially if I had to go somewhere. But if it I were home with nowhere to be and had all my essentials, then let it snow, let it snow, let it snow. (I absolutely hate driving in snow...the two times I've gotten in car accidents were because of snow and ice and it gives me severe anxiety attacks). I would also make it where it was never below 50 degrees, but never higher than, oh, say, 81 degrees. 

Pepa is married to Felix. He is just a mere mortal and does not have any special gift. (This will also apply to Juliet's husband). Their three children, from oldest to youngest, are:

-Dolores is their eldest daughter, probably 18-20 years old. She has the worst gift of all. And I don't mean worst as in its useless (there are others who have more useless gifts than her), but worst as in it is absolutely horrific. If I had her "gift", I would probably kill myself. Maybe that sounds extreme, but I honestly think I would go mental if I had to deal with what she has. So Dolores' magic gift is that she has super-hearing. At first, I thought she could just hear conversations from far away and she was just a professional eavesdropper. Now, if that were the case, I wouldn't mind having that super power. You could just listen to people's conversations all day long without being suspected. But it's not just people's conversation she can hear. It is everything. EV.ERY.THING. At one point she mentions she can hear the insects walking across the floor. OMG, can you imagine if you heard every little thing like that? It would be constant and never-ending. I remember spending the night at a friend's house and there was a ticking clock that drove me absolutely crazy with its constant tick-tick-tick-tick sound. Finally, I just moved to a drawer or somewhere or did something with it so the sound was muffled. 

In the context of the story, it makes sense for someone to have this "gift" because it will play a big part in the movie, but, ugh! No, thank you! Terrible super power.

-Camilo is the Mystique of this movie meaning he can shapeshift into anybody. Though, I'm not sure if that's quite true because he only seems to shapeshift into people who he's around, so maybe he need to acquire the DNA of people he's physically close to to be able to turn into? I'm not sure; they really didn't go into detail. In real life, you could have a lot of fun with this ability; but you could also get into a lot of mischief with it. It's definitely something you wouldn't want somebody with evil intentions to have, which is probably the reason in most movies, the bad guy has this super power! Because the Madrigals are a good family, Camilo doesn't use his powers for evil, but he doesn't really use them for good either. It's just an ability he has. In one scene, we see him morph into a woman so he can take care of the woman's baby while she gets some rest. And when the Madrigals have a party, he morphs into each guests so he can greet them as themselves. It's so weird. Like, why would I want to be greeted by myself? That would freak me the f*** out. He morphs into his sister so he can get seconds on food. When they sing the "We Don't Talk About Bruno" song, he morphs into Bruno which is why I think this is the only reason he has this "gift". Honestly, super useless. 

-Last but not least is Antonio, who is not only the youngest child of Pepa and Felix, but also the youngest member of all the Madrigal family. He is turning five (or maybe six; I honestly don't remember), which means he will soon be getting his special gift. Let's put a pin in that for now.

Now let's move on to to the final triplet:

-Julieta is married to Agustin (voiced by Wilmer Valderrama) and they also have three children. There must be some prophecy that every member of the Madrigal has three children because I'm seeing a pattern here. Overall, the special gifts that Julieta and her children have far outweigh those that Pepa and her children have (in my opinion!) Julieta has an amazing gift that is actually beneficial and helps people: she can heal people with her cooking. All she has to do is give someone some food she's cooked and she's healed a broken finger or cut or any ailment they may have. Now that is a powerful and useful gift! 

Julieta and Agustin have three daughters:

-Isabela (voiced by Diane Guerrero) is the oldest (probably 20-21) and at first I didn't really appreciate her gift for what it truly was. She can grow flowers out of thin air and while she can make any place beautiful and smell wonderful, I didn't really see the point of her ability until I realized it wasn't just flowers she could grow, but any kind of vegetation. Now that certainly upped her superpower game! Because of her, the people in their town will never go hungry. She literally has every single crop there is at her fingertips. She is a very valuable member of her family and the community. Hell, she's a valuable citizen of the world! Keep this young woman safe at all costs! 

-Luisa (voiced by Jessica Darrow) is the middle daughter, probably 18/19 years old. She has super strength. There's always one of these in the group when you have a group of people with powers. She is able to move buildings, reroute the river, lift heavy animals, etc. 

-And, finally we have Mirabel, who I mentioned earlier, is the protagonist of the movie. She is fifteen years old and we find out that she actually doesn't have a special gift. After we get the backstory of how the Madrigals received their powers, the movie starts on the day of Antonio's ceremony where is he to receive his gift. Abuela is super nervous about the day because she's worried that the same thing that happened to Mirabel might happen to Antonio. Remember, nobody has received their gift since Mirabel so if Antonio doesn't get his, then probably nobody in the Madrigal family will probably ever receive one ever again. Everyone is getting ready for the big day (Isabela is covering the place with flowers) and Mirabel is trying to help in her own way, but Abuela just tells her to keep out of the way and that can be her way of "helping". Heh, poor Mirabel. 

Even though Casita is a house, it might be my favorite character. Casita is awesome! During the ceremony, when the guests arrive, they house moves its tiles around so they are able to put their hats on it. Young kids run up the stairs, then the house turns the steps into a slide and it looks so fun. I want to live in Casita

So each member of the family has their own special room which is this big, expansive area where they are able to hone their gifts. Think of the closet in Narnia: when you open the door, you are pretty much in another world. Since Mirabel doesn't have a magical gift, she never received her own special room and her room is the nursery she's been sharing with Antonio. Mirabel is 15/16 and Antonio is 5/6. Even though they get along and have a cute relationship, I would hate to share a room with a 5/6 year old - especially as a teenager! 

During Antonio's ceremony where he will be heading upstairs to turn the doorknob to learn of his fate and obtain his new room, he wants Mirabel to walk with him up the stairs as everyone is lining the pathway, watching them. Way to rub it in, kid! Now everyone is watching Mirabel walk up the stairs with him and they all know that she didn't get her gift. Obviously, this was done so we can see Mirabel having flashbacks of her own failed ceremony. In her version, when she reached for the doorknob of what was supposed to be her room, it vanished. As Antonio is about to reach out and touch his doorknob, Abuela looks super nervous. When the knob starts to glow when he touches it, she is immediately relieved. Out of nowhere, a toucan lands on his arm and chirps. Antonio quickly realizes his gift is that he can communicate with animals and his room is just a huge jungle full of trees and vines and rivers. Which is kinda ironic because they live in Colombia and his room is now pretty much what it looks like outside beyond their town. 

There was some nice foreshadowing of his gift when earlier Mirabel had given him a stuffed leopard as a gift because she know he's "an animal guy." So I guess your magical gift correlates with an interest or quality you already have. 

While everyone is rejoicing in Antonio's magic room (and Abuela is having a fiesta! She tells the guests, "The magic is strong and so are the drinks!"), Mirabel sees a huge crack forming in the tiles of Casita that goes up the wall and stairs until it starts to spread everywhere throughout the house. She goes to the jungle room to warn Abuela and the others, but when they step out of the room the house is back to normal and there are no cracks anywhere. Abuela does not look pleased with Mirabel and thinks she's only doing this to gain attention. 

However, later that night, Mirabel overhears her grandmother asking her husband (she's looking at a framed photo of him) to help save the miracle so she must know something is up. Mirabel vows to herself that she will help save the miracle. 

She decides to ask Dolores if she knows anything since her cousin can hear everything. Dolores tells her she thinks Luisa knows something because she "heard her eyes twitching all night." Dear God. Dolores really does have the worst "gift" ever. I wonder why she even obtained such a horrible ability. Probably because she's a gossip (as we'll see later on) and likes to eavesdrop on people. 

Antonio's gift of communicating with animals doesn't really go anywhere, but we do get a few funny gags throughout the movie including one where Abuela is about to sit down, but there are three small animals on her chair and Antonio tells her that he told them to warm up her seat. I don't know about you, but I don't like sitting in a spot after someone else has sat there....especially if it's a stranger. 

After we get Luisa's song (which is pretty dang catchy if I do say so myself), she admits to Mirabel that she felt weak last night after Mirabel had seen the cracks in the house. She also tells her that before their Uncle Bruno had left, he had "some terrible vision about it" and tells her sister to go to Bruno's room to find the vision. Mirabel asks her how one finds a vision and Luisa replies, "If you find it, you'll know."

Apparently his room is off limits, so Mirabel has to sneak in when no one is around. It is full of sand and there's a million steps that take you into a cave. The gif to the right does a good job of showing just how vast his room is and how many steps you have to climb. After we get a montage of her walking up all those stairs (I guess climbing all those stairs gives you time to reflect and meditate before you perform your vision seeing? IDK?), there is a chunk of the cliff that has crumbled so there is a big gap between the top of the steps and the entrance to the cave. She has to swing a rope from side to the other. She's lucky she had something to get to the other side, but I'm curious as how she got back to the other side because from what I can tell, it looks like the rope is more accessible from the side she came from. 

The toucan, the same one who had "spoken" to Antonio earlier in the movie, has joined Mirabel on her adventure as it can easily fly to the top of the cliff, then fly across the chasm. But once it sees Mirabel is about to go into dark cave, it flies away, leaving Mirabel all alone. Not exactly the loyal Disney pet! In the dark cave, she sees a bunch of glowing green glass in the sand and when she puts three pieces together, she sees an image of herself. The walls start to crack and sand is pouring in, so she quickly gathers the rest of the glass pieces and gets out. The next scene we see her back in Casita, so we never find out how she got over the gap when the rope swing was on the other side. 

Mirabel wants to know more about the vision Bruno saw, but as we all know, they don't talk about Bruno! This is when we get that song. The song is catchy, I'll give it that, but I don't understand why people were trying to act like it was the next "Let It Go" or something. During the song, Camilo turns into Bruno during the song and it seems this is the only reason why they have Camilo as a shapeshifter. 

Mirabel puts the vision puzzle together in her room. Her dad comes in and it's obvious he sees it even though she tries to hide it by standing in front of the table it's on. She realizes she's been caught and all she can do is tell him the truth: "I broke into Bruno's tower, I found his last vision, the family's in trouble, the magic is dying, the house is breaking, Luisa's gift is fading and I think it's all because of... me?" 

This also just so happens to be the evening that Isabel's fiancé's and his mother is coming over and Agustin makes the decision that they will say nothing about what happened because Abuela wants this night to be perfect. He tells Mirabel this as he gathers the pieces and puts them in his pocket. (Why not just find a drawer in Mirabel's room to put them in....but we'll later find out they will need to be accessible in the next scene). He tells Mirabel to act normal and no one will even know. Of course, when they open the door, they see Dolores (the one who can hear every little thing, remember) standing across the courtyard with a look of shock on her face. She whispers, "I know", heh.

During dinner, Mirabel is staring intently at Dolores to make sure she doesn't say anything, but when someone passes a bowl of avocados to her and blocks her view, she sees Dolores whisper something to Camilo, then he says something to his dad, who says something to his wife, who has a dark storm cloud over her which is getting quite big and covering everyone. She whispers to Julieta. This is like a big game of Telephone. Heh, I wonder if kids of today even know about that game. You know, since everybody texts each other now. 

Mirano, Isabel's fiancĂ©, asks Mirabel if everything is okay because she's acting very nervous. Agustin speaks for her and tells him she's fine and that she's excited for him to propose which he thinks he should do now. Mirano's mother says that he wanted to begin with a song before he proposed. Mirabel says it's tradition to sing after the proposal. It's so obvious she and her dad are trying to get the proposal official before anything can be ruined, but can't Mirano always call it off if he wanted to? It's a moot point anyway because Antonio's animal pals start putting the puzzle together under the table. (The reason why it was necessary for the pieces to be nearby). 

Everything turns into chaos and when Abuela demands to know what is happening, Dolores tells everyone. Everyone is angry with Mirabel (well, mostly Abuela and Isabel). She sees rats scurry away with the glass pieces of the vision and follows them through a portrait in the wall which leads her to find her Uncle Bruno (voiced by John Leguizamo) who apparently has been living in the walls. This must be a pretty big house if he's got enough room to live between the walls! Though, Casita is a magical house, so it makes sense to me. 

He tells her no one was ever supposed to see the vision. Mirabel doesn't understand why he left, but didn't actually leave. He starts making excuses about having free food (where he's located in the walls, it's "kitchen adjacent") and he couldn't go anywhere else because the mountains are pretty tall. (Honestly, I'm surprised he just didn't live in his -or another of his family members' - vast room. He tells her that he loves his family, but his gift wasn't helping them. She wants to know why she was in his vision and if she's hurting their family. We find out that he had a vision of her not receiving her magic gift and Abuela wanted him to look into the future to see what it meant. He did and saw "the magic in danger" and their house breaking. When he saw Mirabel, the vision changed and the "future was undecided." He left to protect her. He never watched the entire vision. Wouldn't it be best to watch the whole vision - no matter how difficult - and do the opposite of what happened if something bad is happening? IDK! 

Mirabel wants him to have another vision so he can see more, but he tells her he doesn't do visions anymore. Even if he wanted to, he can't since his room has been ruined. At that point, Antonio appears and tells them that they can use his room. He explains that the rats told him everything. There's a funny moment where his pet jaguar is about to eat the rats and he tells it, "Don't eat those." I have to wonder what the jaguar, Antonio's only carnivore animal pal, eats. He can't eat any of the other animals because they're Antonio's confidants. Does Julieta go to the market and buy meat for the jaguar? 

Bruno performs his vision in Antonio's jungle room with Mirabel (and a capybara who seems unimpressed, ha!), but just sees the same thing. Mirabel notices a flapping butterfly and they follow it. It appears to transform into the candle which is getting brighter. They see a vision of Mirabel hugging someone; it turns out to be her sister, Isabela. I laughed at her incredulous, "ISABELA!" Their embrace appears to make the candle glow brighter. 

She doesn't think Isabela will hug her because she's mad at her for ruining her proposal. Bruno tells Mirabel after she saves the miracle, she should visit him, but she tells him after she saves the miracle, she's bringing him home. I'm not really sure why hugging her sister has anything to do with saving the miracle and there's no way it can be that easy. 

We've seen Antonio's (brand new) jungle room, we've seen Bruno's sand-infested room, and now we will soon see Isabel's room overflowing with flowers. These are the only rooms we will see (though we see a brief few seconds of Pepa's room) and it kind of makes you wonder why the other rooms look like. Like, does Camilo's room have a bunch of mirrors so he can practice morphing into different people? Is Luisa's room just a big gym with a spa? 

It's pretty amusing how Mirabel goes into Isabel's room and apologies for the way she's been acting and tells her she wants to be a better sister and that they should "hug it out", but Isabela isn't having any of it. We get her song where she sings about being perfect is a big burden on her and that she never wanted to marry Mariano and that she was only "doing it for the family." We also find out she'd rather make things like cacti with her power, something that may not be deemed as pretty as a flower. As she sings, "I just made something unexpected; something sharp, something new. It's not symmetrical or perfect, but it's beautiful and it's mine." After the musical number, the two sisters have a better understanding of each other and Mirabel tells her grandmother that she's going to save the miracle, but Abuela is angry and blames Mirabel for everything that's going wrong. Mirabel comes to the realization that she will never be good enough for her grandmother who tells her she does't know why Mirabel didn't get a gift, but "it is not an excuse for [her] to hurt this family." Mirabel next comes to the conclusion that nobody in the family will ever be good enough for Abuela and accuses her of being the one that doesn't care about the family, which doesn't go over so well with Abuela.

This must have been the catalyst for Bruno's vision because the house starts cracking and rumbling and falling apart. Mirabel manages to grab the candle before it can topple over and we see Casita protect her from falling debris by covering her with remnants of itself. Unfortunately, the candle's flame is on its last flicker and it goes out, and therefore, so does the magic. It's sad for everyone, especially since they lost their amazing home, but I have to wonder if Dolores was secretly happy to finally not hear every single little minuscule thing. I know I would be. 

With all the chaos going on, an ashamed Mirabel slips away into the jungle and everyone is looking for her. Abuela is the one to find her by the river. Mirabel apologizes to her grandmother and tells her they are a family because of Abuela. They hug and make up. 

Their magic may be gone, but the townspeople have come to help the Madrigals rebuild their home which is done in the course of one song! I mean, obviously, we see time has gone by and it's a clever way to do it, since, you know, this is a musical. 

Remember how Isabela never wanted to marry Mariano? Well, in "We Don't Talk About Bruno", Bruno tells Dolores her "man of her dreams would be just out of reach, betrothed to another." Turns out he was talking about Mariano and he predicted that right as Dolores and Mariano get together. 

is rebuilt and comes back to life. There's a cute moment where it waves one of its shutters, welcoming the family. Mirabel now has her own doorknob which just so happens to be on the front door of the house. So I guess Mirabel is now going to take over for Abuela when she passes on? Everyone has their magic back and all is well again.