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Mama Said: Plans for today? Watch Encanto

If you’re looking for us, we’re probably watching Disney’s Encanto, writes Emily Martin

Watching TV can make memories, writes Mama Said's Emily Martin (54657776)
Watching TV can make memories, writes Mama Said's Emily Martin (54657776)

As a child, like you I’m sure, I had certain TV shows and movies on repeat. In the same way that as a 20-year-old, I would watch Friends over and over, I was soothed as a child by obsessive repeat-watching of films like: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Aladdin, Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker and Flight of the Navigator. I had a taped interview of Kylie Minogue which also got a lot of airplay. And a tape of Michael Jackson: Live in Bucharest on the Dangerous tour (1992) which I would study very carefully over my Weetabix each morning before school. I was a big fan of old Hollywood musicals like High Society, Calamity Jane and Young at Heart (a little 6 year old Frank Sinatra and Doris Day fan) and I knew them off by heart.

I remember being taken to Heffers video rental shop on St Andrew’s Street in Cambridge and repeatedly booking out The Worst Witch to the point where I’m sure I must have had it permanently. Sorry, if you ever tried to rent it too and found it not to be there. It was almost certainly at my house. It was really good. I wish you’d seen it.

I had a VHS tape of The Snow Spider, made by HTV Wales in 1988, which I found both terrifying and enthralling (I’m actually delighted to discover that the whole thing is on YouTube so as soon as I finish writing this, I’m making the 1980’s classic dish, a Marmite sandwich, and settling down to the tale of Welsh boy-magician, Gwyn Griffith’s, and his gruff dad).

At 8 and 4, my children are now heading towards the years when I personally began obsessively re-watching things and, as we finally emerge from the relentless Peppa Pig years, and the years we’ve spent watching people make things out of Playdough on YouTube, it seems to have happily coincided with Disney releasing what is arguably (and I’m ready to argue, let’s go) its greatest animated movie of all time.

If you don’t have children, I beg you not to let Disney’s Encanto pass you by. Original music written by Lin Manuel Miranda (the guy behind the musical, Hamilton), and in my house it’s on morning, noon and night. Never in all my years of repeatedly watching a film, have I ever experienced such audio-hallucinations thanks to a movie. Round and round in my head it goes. I fear I’m stuck with it, maybe forever.

Don’t get me wrong, the movie is brilliant. The story is creative and wonderful and the music is fabulous. I won’t go on about why. Suffice to say that my children currently believe that we are all part of “La Familia Madrigal” and, if we’re not watching the movie on TV, and fast forwarding to the songs, we’ve got it on in the car - the big musical numbers but also all the extra bits and interludes and instrumental bits too. My brain is locked permanently into a groovy Columbian café.

Even now as I type, up there my brain is singing “Dos Oruguitas” to me. A song which, incidentally, is in Spanish, a language I don’t understand. Yes it’s brilliant. But it’s also driving me as mad as a hot Columbian night. And because the children keep watching it, it never goes away.

My son loves the music of Encanto much more intensely than I could have foreseen. He suggests we play the songs to people when they come over or, if they’re travelling in our car (like his Grandparents, for example), he’ll say: “Let’s have ‘Canto, Mummy” and then sits solemnly as the music begins.

If he gets the inkling the person he’s playing it for isn’t fully appreciating it; for example if they try and talk over it to say something frivolous like: “Ooh this is a good one” or if they do a little silly bop to show they’re into it, well he takes that as a huge moronic failure on their part. A failure to notice the music in all its spectacular, intrinsic complexity. A failure to admire the lyrics. Failure to be silently and respectfully in awe of composer Lin Manel Miranda’s genius. Disappointing. “Turn it off, Mummy” he’ll say in disgust. I get that. I used to be a bit like that.

Anyway, I guess what I’m saying is, watch Encanto. Even if you don’t have little children you mustn’t miss it. But also prepare to be trapped in an eternal Columbian groove.


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