I’m really not sure this film needs much of an introduction since it’s been everywhere since its release. Which works for me as I’m just coming off the tail end of a migraine and I cannot be arsed.
It does ring in the end of our Awards Season month though which I’m secretly pleased about. Like Jill, I’m not always head over heels about critically-acclaimed titles. Anyone who’s ever read our blogs will know our tastes run a little more on the trashy side.
Personally, I think it’s a travesty James Wan’s magnum opus Malignant (2021) didn’t even get a nod. The good news is, however, that we’re looking at anti- Oscar movies next. So buckle up, buttercup.
I just made something unexpected. Something sharp. Something new. It’s not symmetrical or perfect, but it’s beautiful! And it’s mine. What else can I do?
A Colombian teenage girl has to face the frustration of being the only member of her family without magical powers.
Family Madrigal have seen their fair share of sorrow, having lost grandfather Pedro to violent conflict. In fact it’s the war that saw Pedro’s sweetheart Alma flee Colombia with their three children to start a new life without him, protected by a magical candle that – via a Pixar miracle – manifested their home, Casita.
We come in 50 years later and Alma is abuela to many. Under the magic candle, life is good and each year it grants the next Madrigal descendent a special “gift” AKA a super power – such as shape-shifting or unimaginable physical strength. 15-year-old Mirabel, unfortunately, is the only grandchild not to have received a gift.
On the eve of 5-year-old Antonio’s ceremony – in which he gains the power to talk to animals – Mirabel witnesses Casita cracking and falling apart. Despite warning the family, she is quickly shushed by Abuela, who doesn’t believe it happened. Or does she? On eavesdropping on Abuela’s prayers that night, she realises she might have stumbled across a mystery – and vows to save the miracle’s magic (AKA keep that candle flame burning).
After turning to super strong sister, Luisa (Jessica Darrow) to find out what the fuck’s going on, she’s gets the inspiration to turn to Bruno, her uncle, who has been kicked out of the family. Luisa – who confesses to Mirabel that she often feels weighed down with the responsibility that comes with being so gifted – suggests the clue to everything might lie in Bruno’s room, a forbidden tower in the house. Here our protagonist has another vision of a crumbling Casita.
Meanwhile, Luisa feels her powers weakening and Mirabel’s other sister, the perfect Isabela (Diane Guerrero) is on schedule to become engaged. At her engagement dinner, cousin Dolores (who has superhuman hearing) spills the beans about what Mirabel uncovered in Bruno’s possessions. This causes the house to crumble for real, ruining the event and making Abuela go mental. Everybody blames Mirabel for everything so she’s relieved when she stumbles across Bruno IRL, who decides to help her sort through the wreckage of what’s left of Family Madrigal.
When the first resolution is to make amends with a disgruntled Isabela, Mirabel can’t think of anything worse. But the apology is more enlightening than expected. Could things be taking a turn?
Oh and while we’re at it, could Mirabel be any closer to discovering her own gift?
This looks stunning, has upbeat songs and has a nice enough message. It just annoys me that Mirabel’s gift turns out to be looking after the family. Snore. If it were me, I’d be FURIOUS that I could’ve been a shape-shifter but got to be the emotional support granddaughter instead.
Maybe I’m being extra sensitive but it feels like a cop out in the end – and isn’t framed in the same way as it is in Soul. I get that it’s trying to say that simply being your loving self is enough, that it’s okay if your purpose in this world is to just be but it seems weak to me.
I do like the comments made about trying to be perfect and strong all the time – and how much more interesting the sisters become when they relax a little – but this isn’t my favourite Pixar by a long shot and I’m not fooled by all the colour and admittedly surreal detail in every single brush stroke of the animation.
Give me another Monsters Inc. STAT.
– Genres: Animation ∙ Family ∙ Comedy
– IMDB user rating: 7.2
– My score: 3/5
– Runtime: 102 mins