Encanto ★★½

Terrific songwriting and animation in search of better drama. There's more than a bit of Happiest Season here, with a clearly queer heroine challenging her family's damaging preconceptions and ultimately using the simple magic of Honesty to change hearts for the better. Many complained about an overly pat ending for Lesbian Christmas, but I felt there was value in giving a positive, uplifting conclusion to a type of story that infrequently receives one. Although Encanto has similar goals, its closing passages seem watered-down and underwritten even by the family-friendly standards of a PG movie. Older generations making concessions at the drop of a hat? In this economy? Maybe I was feeling too cynical after a difficult holiday, or maybe I just needed some of that classic, complex, perfect-for-kids-and-adults-alike Disney magic. I hate to say it, but the past few years haven't been the greatest for WDAS. Bolt through Moana was such a robust period, without a single misstep, and everything since has felt like good intentions hampered by some phantom directive to condescend to audiences they've often been the best at stimulating. I'm sure they'll bounce back. They always do.

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