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Fan­tas­tical colors, adorable animals, relatable char­acters, and songs that will play in your head on repeat. Disney’s newest movie, Encanto, has all the staples of a classic ani­mation film – with some added fea­tures that cat­a­pults it over the edge. 

Encanto revolves around the Madrigals – a seem­ingly perfect Columbian family who are each gifted their own magical power when they turn of age. The Madrigals use their talents to help support the other members of their village, dis­playing true self-sac­rifice for their neighbors. 

However, one of the children, Mirabel, does not receive a magical power. She thinks she’s useless, always in the way, and dis­ap­pointing to those she loves. Mirabel attempts to prove herself to her family over and over again, but cannot seem to do any­thing worth recog­nition – espe­cially in com­parison to the stellar feats of her older siblings. 

Mirabel’s time comes when her family begins to lose their powers. She is the only one willing to acknowledge that they are growing weak and cannot assist the town like they are expected to. Mirabel is con­fronted with the unre­al­istic stan­dards her family holds them­selves to and has to find a way to save their magic. 

This movie high­lights the respon­si­bility and duty that people have to help one another with the talents they’ve been given, but it also shows how exhausting such expec­ta­tions can be on those who bear them. Encanto reminds everyone – regardless of status, age, or magical abil­ities – that they can use their wit and deter­mi­nation for the benefit of others. 

Diving into the nuances of the teenage mind, Disney created char­acters who have subtle weak­nesses that everyone can relate to. One of the Madrigal children has super-strength – she never tires or struggles to phys­i­cally assist those around her. Despite this power, she still feels the pressure to live up to expec­ta­tions, to never let anyone down, and to always make herself useful. 

This reality is some­thing that many young adults struggle with today. In a world where every­thing is so acces­sible and success is simply expected, it’s over­whelming to figure out one’s place in society and how we can make a dif­ference. We feel the same pressure depicted in this movie, and we must also learn that we cannot act alone. There will always be some fear of failure, but we can accept dis­ap­pointment, grow, and under­stand that we will make mistakes. 

The valley the Madrigals live and work in is a direct reflection of our society today. Disney set aside their political agenda and ulterior motives to present a story of the balance between family, duty, and per­fection. It’s a good reminder, espe­cially at the beginning of a semester, that there is more to you than what you can achieve.