Let’s Talk About: Luisa

To avoid confusion, this is Luisa:

Luisa hugging Mirabel

I avoided talking about Encanto on my blog thus far because this is not a movie review blog. But “slice of life” goes only so far.

In my opinion, Encanto is one of the most relatable movies that has ever been made. Hard not to relate to film where the central theme is generational trauma. That’s a heavy topic! I have never been able to see something of myself in so many characters in one film.

Luisa is my absolute most favorite. Prior to seeing the film, I expected Isabela to be my favorite because she’s all about flowers, which are the most gorgeous things in the world to me. But she was a jerk until roughly the last twenty minutes of the film, and I don’t like mean characters. Stoic, standoffish, “mean but they really care”, sure. But not purely mean, and while we get the reason for it, it doesn’t really explain her behavior. But I’ll talk more about Isabela in another post.

A glance at my left sidebar will reveal the video of Surface Pressure to your eyesight. This is Luisa’s signature song, where she musically explains the tremendous pressure she feels and weight she carries. Since this is Disney we’re talking about, the visuals are dazzlingly magnificent – nothing less expected from Disney – but the only song that has ever hit me the way Surface Pressure does is Show Yourself from Frozen 2. It took four re-watches before I stopped crying to that.

For me, the most hard-hitting line in this song is:

“I’m pretty sure I’m worthless if I can’t be of service!”

I… just… I… damn! I was not prepared for that when I first watched Encanto. Holy cow! Did Disney really sum up my entire existence in one line? Did… did they really do that?

But if it stopped there, I wouldn’t have more to say. The best way I can sum it up is this: Who gave Disney permission to put my life in a song? Who did it?!

“Who am I if I can’t carry it all?”

“I hide my nerves and it worsens, I worry something is gonna hurt us”

“I think about my purpose, can I somehow preserve this?”

“Line up the dominoes, a light wind blows, you try to stop it toppling, but on and on it goes!

“Give it to your sister, it doesn’t hurt, and see if she can handle every family burden”

“Who am I if I don’t have what it takes? No cracks, no breaks… no mistakes… No pressure!

Alright, Disney, you can stop now! I’ve had physical pain that hurt less! I do not attend films with the expectation of being crushed by feelings!

Some of the lyrics in the Spanish version are more heartbreaking.

“Something troubles me and it’s getting worse, I must save everyone”

“The picture of me I display shatters in a moment”

“Can I ever get rid of this cruel weight?”

“She will hold all our foundations”

“See if she can hold even our grief”

“What if I fall down and can’t be the one I must be? Without pressure, without weight?”

I said that’s enough, Disney! Goddamn! Therapy is not as hard hitting! I did not ask for my trauma to be personified on the big screen, let alone in an upbeat, seemingly innocuous song in a family film.

Show Yourself hits me hard because it’s a powerfully uplifting ballad about self-love, whereas Surface Pressure crushes me for tearing apart just about every facet of my being and putting it into words. Disney really decided, “You face your demons today.” They could’ve asked permission at the very least.

Outside of Surface Pressure, Luisa continues to be an overall precious character. I love how Disney portrayed her. She’s big and she’s proud of her strength, but she’s not dumb – a common stereotype of strong characters in media – she’s not ugly, she’s loving, and she’s emotional. It’s kind of glossed over, but the movie shows the problem is not Luisa’s supernatural strength, but how it’s taken advantage of. That is definitely an important distinction to make. Nothing is wrong with Luisa, and her gift is not the problem. What’s wrong is how she’s treated.

I hated being the older sibling, but I would kill for a big sister like Luisa. The scenes where she gets hysterical are supposed to be funny, but they only make me sad for her. She is that precious. There is a part of the fandom that imagines Luisa as shy and non-assertive, and I love that idea!

Encanto is intended to become a series, similar to how Frozen became its own franchise, and whatever happens, I really hope Luisa doesn’t turn into a caricature of her muscles. Disney really has good characterization for her in the movie. I pray they keep it. Let her have character development (like learning to assert herself when necessary), but keep her the same at heart.

The Perfection of Frozen 2!

Stupidly necessary disclaimer: I do not care about spoilers. I rather enjoy them because I like to read about movies and shows, and I also think people are insane when it comes to them. In this particular case, this is my blog, so I will censor nothing because this film has reignited my love for the Frozen franchise (not that it ever waned; just calmed) and I want to cheer about it! So, take this as your warning. If you’re one of those people whose life is utterly ruined by spoilers and you read beyond this disclaimer, it’s your own fault.

Yesterday, my boyfriend and I saw Frozen 2. I was planning to see it when I had time, but not that soon. However, it was his idea and he offered to pay for tickets ($16.99 each) while I pay for dinner, so I agreed. However, we don’t share the same opinion of the movie. He thinks it’s average at best. I, however, think it is flawless! I loved the original, and I think Frozen 2 outdid that! So much to love about this movie! If I weren’t poor, I’d see again! I can’t wait until the blu-ray combination comes out. I want the blu-ray, the DVD, the digital version, and the soundtrack. I want all of it!

First of all, Idina Menzel has an incredible voice! Let It Go already made that obvious, but Into The Unknown does it better! That’s what sequel should be. Her voice is powerful, and that song was beautiful and gave me chills!

Also, Disney made Elsa hotter! She was already gorgeous in Frozen, and I love her wardrobe overall. But in Frozen 2, she lets down her hair and gets a lovely white dress I can’t describe, but makes look her prettier than any fictional character has the right to be. My favorite dress of hers is the one she wears in Olaf’s Frozen Adventure, but the wardrobe of this film certainly does her favors! I’m certainly not complaining, but whose idea was it to make the queen of ice and snow hot? I hope they got a promotion.

Frozen 2 lets Elsa really shine with her powers! Frozen and Olaf’s Frozen Adventure allowed the same, but Frozen 2 makes them pale in comparison. She is awesome and I love every moment of her using her ice powers. My favorite is the scene where she fights against the ocean and the Nokk – it is purely amazing – and I also love that she defends Arendelle from the tidal wave with a snowflake! But really, all of her scenes with her powers are awesome and it’s hard to say which is the best! I know it’s not Japanese animation, but Elsa is officially my favorite “magical girl”, hands down. If she weren’t already my favorite Disney character of all time, she would be after this movie.

I’ll just say it. She’s a goddess. There, I said it. And since she’s the fifth spirit between the four nature ones, that may be semi-accurate.

Let’s talk about the animation. It’s Disney. The animation is always fabulous. But the scenery in Frozen 2 makes Frozen look cheap. My favorite is a shot of the enchanted forest when it looks like autumn.

I’m glad they gave Elsa and Anna’s mother a bigger role here. I know parents having minor roles is a regular thing with Disney films, but in Frozen, their mom had one line and their father was shown to be the major influence on Elsa. But it turns out her mom had just as much influence, if not more, and I’m so glad their parents were, in a way, central to the story. Also, more little Anna and Elsa! Yay!

Speaking of Anna, I know she’s supposed to be ordinary, but she really is anything but. That woman is strong. I thought I was about to finally make it through a Disney movie without crying (yeah, right), but Anna killed it. Anna is also full of life lessons. This one line of hers is my favorite:

“You’re not responsible for their choices.”

She says this when Elsa blames herself for their parents’ departure and deaths since they went on that voyage in the first movie to learn more about Elsa’s magic. This is, as TV Tropes calls it, an anvil that needs to be dropped. Anna’s point is simply that while Elsa may be the reason their parents left, it was ultimately their choice to go, and being the reason does not make her at fault for their demise. Say it louder for the people in the back, Anna! And points to Disney for putting that in a family-friendly film, of all things. I already know some parents are probably mad Disney told their kids that.

I really love Anna for how emotionally strong she is and how matter-of-fact she can be. I’d say Frozen 2 gave her a more level head. She’s still impulsive, but she recognizes it, and at one point, scolds Elsa for being reckless. I’ve read some don’t feel Anna had grown by the end of Frozen, but I disagree. She’s still her energetic self, but she has changed and gotten wiser.

I have only one complaint about this film: why must the sisters be separate again?! I understand why, but it hurts my heart they can’t live together. Granted, it’s not a bad lesson that familial relationships can be strong in spite of distance, but after thirteen years of no contact, I think both sisters deserved more than three years in close contact and close quarters.

Also, I didn’t realize this until I read it online, but Frozen 2 has no real antagonist. The closest is their grandfather, but that’s the past, so he’s gone. The movie’s conflict is discovering the truth of it. I like villains and villain songs, but I also love movies without villains because they’re proof villains aren’t necessary to drive a conflict or have a good story in general. Top three in order would be: Frozen 2, Ralph Breaks The Internet, and Ponyo (yes, I know Ponyo isn’t Disney).

Frozen 2 is Disney’s last animated feature of the 2010s decade. Way to end the decade with a bang, Disney. I had no interest in Disney+ because I was tired of hearing about it, but if Frozen 2 goes on Disney+, I might subscribe just to rewatch my favorite scenes. Speaking of which, my overall most favorite scene is Elsa singing a duet with her late mother, both for the meaning behind the song and the amazing sequences in that scene.

When the film finally does come out on disc (or digital), I’m updating this post with pictures!

Spoiled Like A Princess

First off, Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I figured I may as well throw it in since I’m posting on the holiday.

For someone who wants no children, I talk about them a lot. Then again, I have a strange knack for talking a lot about things I don’t have, whether I want them or not. Don’t ask. Chalk it up to “I think a lot”.

Yesterday, I saw a video on Facebook about a mother who takes her daughter to Disneyland several times a year because they have annual passes and live about 20 minutes away from the park. She sews costumes for her daughter. My first thought was, “Yeah, this is why I don’t need a daughter.”

I can’t deny it’s because I myself am female, but if I had a daughter, she would undoubtedly be a spoiled princess (or tomboy, if she preferred that)! If I had the finances and lived very close to Disneyland, it’s a safe bet she’d be going everyday. My only regret would be I couldn’t wear the costumes with her. Disneyland forbids guests over age 14 from wearing costumes. I understand the reason for the rule, but it’s one of the reasons I lost my desire to go years ago. Oh, well.

Funnily enough, my boyfriend also agrees. When I showed up him the video and told him the above, he replied we’d both spoil our non-existent daughter if we could. I was a little surprised to hear him say that because he does not like taking care of kids at all. The next thing he said was: “If I had the money, I would be spoiling [his niece].”

To me, it’s genuinely one of the cutest things he’s ever said. His niece is the exception to his dislike of caring for kids. Even I have to admit I love his niece, despite having zero familial relationship to her and only seeing her a handful of times, and she also likes me, to the point she was once screaming she wanted me after seeing me when I hadn’t been around her for some time.

However, it still prefaces why neither of us needs kids. We want the adorable parts of raising a child without the awful parts, but there’s no way to separate the two. It’s the reason I stick to fantasy and Sims games, and he sticks to being devoted to his niece. Children aren’t novelties. Dolls are for dressing up and parading around. There’s so much more to children, and they deserve parents who are willing to take all the awfulness along with the cuteness. I regularly hear raising children is 90% awful and only 10% good, but the 10% makes up for the 90%. I think it’s only worth it if you’re willing to accept those odds from the start, and even some people who are already parents aren’t. Ouch.

Still, I also think it’s ironic and a bit funny two people who do not want their own kids think nothing of spoiling our hypothetical child if she did exist. Or he. The mother from the video also has a son who she lets get in on the fun. I only emphasize “daughter” because the video mainly focuses on the daughter.

Disney: Life Lessons

I know children’s media in general has a reputation for being educational to some extent, if only to appease what’s known as the “moral guardians”.

However, Disney is my most favorite when it comes to (animated) films and recently, I found a pattern in their movies, particularly the Disney Princess line. All of their DP follow the expression about things getting worse before they get better. Right before the situation improves and the happy ending comes, it’s made to seem like there’s no way it possibly could improve.

And I like that.

Obviously, animation isn’t to be taken as realism, but it’s certainly true in life things sometimes do worsen before they finally improve. Sometimes, people do hit rock bottom before they finally move back up.

It happened to me. At first, I could think only think of two major things where that was the case – my job and my boyfriend – but upon further thought, I’ve been through it more times than I can count.

Before I had my very first job interview, I’d gotten myself trapped in another city due to following a shady job agency I was too desperate to see through. That was one of the days I genuinely came to close to giving in to the heavy depressive thoughts that returned. Before I met my boyfriend, I was ready to give up on dating because I’d gotten nothing out of it in that two years and it didn’t feel worth it to keep trying. Despite the “downs”, I’m very happy with him and he’s the best relationship I’ve had. I had never kept any steady friendships beyond school due to moving and I was prepared for high school to end the same way. I met my best friend in 11th grade and we’ve been friends for five years, and still are.

That’s not to say I’d be willing to repeat those worst periods again, or that I’m happy they happened. You’d have to kill me before I return to high school or anything lower. I’m happy there was something get out of living through them.

There’s another low point I’m anticipating this May, but I foresaw it years ago. I’m not sure what good will come out of passing through, but hopefully, I remain pleasantly surprised. The upside is this time, I have much more support than I did with any of my previous low points.

As for Disney, I hope they do continue this trend of things hitting their absolute worst before getting better. It may not be new or original at this point, but it’s definitely an important lesson.

MU Provides A Life Lesson

Yesterday, my summer group saw the movie Monsters University. We were supposed to see Despicable Me 2, but we would’ve had to wait a half-hour until it started and a large group can’t exactly stand around in a cinema.

To sum the plot up, Mike goes to the titular school to join the scare program and become a true scarer. However, thanks to Sully’s antics, he gets kicked out of the program by the dean because she thinks he’s not scary. Mike ends up assembling a team and participating in the Scare Games to prove he is scary. His team wins, but the victory turns out to be a false one because Sully tampered with the final game when it was Mike’s turn. Sully confesses and is expelled. Meanwhile, Mike has entered a door to the human world without permission to once again prove he is scary. Doesn’t work, as the kids find him to more cute than scary. Sully goes after him and together, the two pull off a scare that opens the door from the inside and also basically causes an explosion. As punishment, they’re both expelled, but Mike’s team from the Scare Games is allowed in the scare program. After Mike boards the bus to go home, Sully stops it to tell Mike that while he may not be scary, he is fearless. The dean flies in to basically agree and wish them luck. Mike and Sully become a team and work together at the Monsters Company, first starting in the mailroom, but eventually working their way up to becoming scarers. The movie ends with Mike and Sully about to begin their first day of scaring children. Thus, Mike has finally reached his dream of being a scarer.

Now, I love just about any movie that has a happy ending, but what I loved in particular about this one is that Mike still got what he wanted in the end, despite having so many people against him and being expelled from the university he’d had his heart set on. He’d been teased since childhood about not being scary and that didn’t change when he grew up. He was still mocked and ridiculed, even by the dean. While there was a point where he did give up, it wasn’t because of all the teasing. It was failure to scare the kids. Even then, Sully talked him out of it by revealing that he wasn’t as perfect as his arrogance made him out to be. Basically, what I loved about this movie is that Mike’s determination and ambition, as well as Sully’s encouragement, is what ultimately led to him reaching his goal.

While I realize it’s merely a movie and reality is hugely different, it doesn’t change that there is a little bit of reality in the movie. The lesson is you don’t have to walk on a “perfect” path to achieve what you want and the road to success isn’t always straight.

Back in high school, the teachers, guidance counselors, and even the vice principal preached about how college was so important and there was no excuse not to go. If you didn’t attend college, you had no chance of having a successful life. A little curiosity found me some different ideas. Sometimes, that plan doesn’t always work out. There are many people with college degrees, even masters, who are stuck in dead-end jobs either due to the economy or their chosen field not being high in demand. At the same time, there are people who never attended college who work government-related jobs.

I think I’ve said before that I genuinely want to attend college. However, it’s very nice to know that there is no one “right” path in life and instead, there are many paths that can lead to success, whatever the definition of that word is for each person. That’s also another great thing. “Success” has a different meaning for everyone. If my life doesn’t match someone else’s, it doesn’t mean I’m a failure. It means my life is different. I hope I don’t seem idealistic typing this because I don’t believe I am. I just think college needs to stop being pushed so much on young adults and the notion that college automatically leads to success needs to die. Not only is it ludicrous, it’s dangerous.