Road to El Dorado is a 2000 DreamWorks animated film. Starring the voice talents of Kevin Kline, Kenneth Branagh, Armand Assante, and Rosie Perez. Featuring music from Elton John and Tim Rice, the action/adventure film didn’t do too well in theatres and I can see why but, honestly, the film was pretty good.
Tulio (Kline) and Miguel (Branagh) are con men in Spain in the mid 1500s. After being caught using loaded dice in a game, the pair escape and find themselves on Cortes’s boat. Cortes is attempting to find the city of El Dorado. Miguel and Tulio escape and find the city before Cortes does. In El Dorado, they’re regarded as gods and are treated as such though Tzekel-Kan (Assante), a high priest, tries to play them against each other so that he may rule El Dorado on his own.
I will admit that while the film is good and downright hilarious in most cases, Tulio and Miguel are a little flat in their characterizations. I feel like the only one who had true character growth was Miguel. He wants to stay in El Dorado while Tulio wants to go back to Spain with gold. By the end, Miguel forfeits his ability to stay in El Dorado by saving Tulio and the city. Meanwhile, Tulio continues to lament after his gold.
Besides that, I am a sucker for Elton John and I thought his songs, while not as good as the ones in The Lion King, were peppy, upbeat, and they definitely suited the tone of the film. Many of the songs, like the opening number “El Dorado”, are ways to give the audience backstory as well as to move the story forward. Gone are the characters who break into song like many Disney and Fox animated films and I think, in the long run, that may have hurt the film but I thought the music was god enough that Migue and Tulio didn’t need to break out into song to prove a point.
I will admit that I’m glad I watched this film as an adult because it is definitely a bit more scandalous than kid’s movies usually are. There is a scene where it is implied that Chel (Perez) and Tulio were definitely engaged in some hanky panky that can be skewed in two very naughty directions and I laughed through the entire scene, but thankfully, the scene should mostly go over children’s heads.
Other than that little moment of raunchiness, I think Road to El Dorado is a worthy kid’s film. Yes, DreamWorks isn’t Disney, nothing hardly ever tops Disney, but it’s worth being exposed to other animated films from time to time to keep things fresh.