. I found it charming and visually beautiful, but it was ultimately a little too minor. Worse, in a self-release that would be huge time-consuming, I declared the songs to have been "forgettable" while grumbling about Lin-Manuel Miranda's ubiquity in the movie industry. His contributions were featured in no less than five movies in 2021. Was I happy with myself for noting that he might need a break; maybe to go on vacation for the summer? (Reader, I was.
Encanto is a huge success, especially with the blockbuster hits that have made it a worldwide phenomenon. Since a late-'70s issue of Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide, I've never seen a reviewer miss such a sensation. He declared that The Rocky Horror Picture Show "fails at excite." Here I was, Mr. Fails to Excite, sporting one his most chilling takes.
Glen Weldon, a dear friend and colleague, called me "HTMODE_ WILDLY wrong " via Twitter. Mental note: Write an essay titled "Why Do I Keep my DMs Open Why". My DMs were much worse. The latest mailer, which appeared just this week, read: "You must discuss your Encanto slander starting in November. Number 1 song. Number 1 album. Surprised?"
Is it at the same level as the vitriol we received because we disapproved of Don’t Look Up in , a PCHH episode which compelled at most one person to accuse me of being in the pockets of Big Oil? As an aside, no. If you can't defend a movie without making accusations of bad faith towards those who disagree, then you might not be as righteous. ANYWAY. Many people disliked my Encanto take and made fun of me for not being able to sing its songs. They have also asked me if I have reconsidered over the past weeks.
I watched Encanto again. The first screening was at a theater for critics. The second viewing took place on my couch. The film felt richer in its characters and more nuanced in its messaging regarding familial obligations, shared secret and what generations owe each other. The kinetic visuals and how the family's magical home filled the screen with sight gags, and gave Encanto a sense rhythm and motion was what struck me the second time.
The songs? They are the songs? They do a lot of heavy lifting (literally in the case "Surface Pressure) in areas such as character development and introduction, just like "The Family Madrigal." "We Don't Talk About Bruno", "Surface Pressure" capture the negative effects of the supernatural "gifts", which most Madrigal family members receive. "Dos Oruguitas," however, is a powerful emotional match for the visuals that recall the family's difficult backstory. They just don't seem to have the same impact on me melodically as they did for others. They should be more catchy, funnier, or stick in your head longer. Maybe Miranda's songwriting tricks have dulled their appeal. They don't knock my socks off, as much as I would love them to. They might one day.
Encanto and Don't Look Up have attracted many people who are equipped with different measures of popularity. For example, the Billboard charts for Encanto or Netflix's claims about Don't Look Up streaming numbers. These figures can be used to show that a review was not accurate. This is a very unconvincing approach. After all, there has been an almost infinite number of actual junk that has been immensely popular. I feel forced to reconsider, when I see so many people being swept up in the magic of something that I had dismissed -- when their children are learning every word and asking questions or when Glen Weldon's black heart grows three times its size.
It is obvious that I, and most other reviewers, don't approach any piece of art expecting to be unmoved. We want to be entertained, thrilled, sparked to action, and swept away by art. When I feel more or less indifferent about something that everyone loves, I must be open and honest about my feelings. It feels more like a missed chance than anything else. Nobody wants to be the guy that says The Rocky Horror Picture Show "fails in excite" -- even though those words have been laughed at for almost 50 years. To miss the boat means to miss out on the fun that everyone else is having.