Once upon a time, new Disney and Pixar animated films were an automatic “see in theaters” category for our family. (Well, generally speaking. Maybe someday I’ll get around to The Good Dinosaur.) Works from other animation studios were not so guaranteed and were judged on a case-by-case basis. Our last animated theatrical experience was Pixar’s Onward, which was back in March 2020 and just-okay. For non-Disney fare (not counting shorts) I’d have to go clear back to the third How to Train Your Dragon in 2019, which was likewise just-okay.
Then along came a pandemic that interrupted our traditions and our rhythms. Some studios kept releasing new cartoons anyway, albeit on a protracted schedule. We ignored all of them, even after getting our shots, because of inertia. I recently caught up with a few 2021 releases on streaming services, but they haven’t been a top priority. (Maybe someday I’ll get around to Raya and the Last Dragon.) Amidst this current holiday season my son and I noticed the oversight and revived our tradition at last with an outing for Disney’s Encanto — apropos of the occasion, a film about family, tradition, and ruination that we think comes from without when in fact the disruption is coming from inside the house.