The Road to El Dorado

Thanks for the memory. The natives somehow mistake Miguel and Tulio for gods. As if...
dir Eric Bibo Bergeron, Don Paul
scr Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio
voices Kevin Kline, Kenneth Branagh, Rosie Perez, Edward James Olmos, Armand Assante, Jim Cummings, Elton John, Frank Welker, Tobin Bell, Duncan Marjoribanks, Elijah Chiang, Cyrus Shaki-Khan
DreamWorks 00/US 2 out of 5 stars
Review by Rich Cline
DreamWorks takes the silly approach with its Mexican conquest tale The Road to El Dorado, which draws heavily on Hope-Crosby road movies and Disney's more wacky output (such as Aladdin, which uncoincidentally shares one of the cowriters). Sure, it's a funny movie, well animated and consistently entertaining. But there's absolutely nothing to it.

Tulio and Miguel (voiced by Kline and Branagh) are goofy con men in Spain who accidentally wind up on board Cortes' (Cummings) ship bound for the New World. They escape with his horse and somehow beat him to shore, where they stumble into El Dorado, the mystical city of gold. Of course, the locals mistake them for gods, so they bumble along with the charade in hopes of a big haul. But to do this they must join forces with a nubile native (Perez) and navigate through a feud between the temple high priest (Assante) and the city's chief (Olmos). Oh, and Cortes is getting closer.

Not only is the story reed thin, but it's also undercut by continual anachronistic dialog that's funny but alienates us from the adventure and characters. I mean, this kind of film doesn't have to be high art, but does it have to be so haphazard, formulaic and soulless? That said, it is frequently laugh-out-loud funny, the characters are amusing (and very nicely voiced, of course), and the animation is often impressive. Elton John and Tim Rice's songs are adequate but unmemorable (the number sung by Kline and Branagh is a jumbled mess). And perhaps the most surprising thing is that it's such a step backwards after DreamWorks' wonderful genre-breaker The Prince of Egypt.

[U--themes, suspense, grisliness] 1.Aug.00
US release 31.Mar.00; UK release 4.Aug.00

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2000 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall