The Road To El DoradoThe Road To El Dorado (2000) Theatrical Cartoon
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- DreamWorks SKG
- Animated Characters: Tzekel-Kan, Miguel, Tulio, The Chief, Chel.
- Originally Released in 2000.
Cartoon Production Information:
This film was ranked by Box Office Mojo at #41 on its list of worst openings for films at 3,000 or more theaters. It opened at $12,846,652 (25.3% of its $50,863,742 total gross) in 3,218 theaters, or $3,992 per screen.
If ever a movie inspired frequent use of the term “It’s only a cartoon,” this is the one. Kevin Kline and Kenneth Branagh, in broad self-caricature, provide the voices of Tulio and Miguel, two 16th-century Spanish con men who inexplicably speak in perfect English and hip lingo (oh well, it’s only a cartoon). They manage to escape the evil Spanish explorer Cortes, come upon a legendary city of gold, and are hailed by some very myopic local priests as gods (it’s only a cartoon, after all). And they are aided in this subterfuge by a curvy vixen (Rosie Perez) who’s more brazen than they are (oh, well...you know).
The naysayers who dug deep into Star Wars alien lineage to find racial stereotypes will have a field day here. Naive natives, evil priests, and sultry South American women- this thing makes Pocahontas look like a civics lesson. But it’s almost an antidote to the political correctness that has weighed down so many recent Disney cartoons.
Director Eric “Bibo” Bergeron previously worked on Disney’s underrated A Goofy Movie, and Road's epic scale is constantly punctured by the same hunger of gag payoffs- and that’s meant as a compliment. Some potentially cliched set pieces- as when the con men are stranded at sea or are forced to play a primitive version of basketball- become comedy routines that are rendered just about perfectly.
And when the movie borrows (okay- steals) from recent cartoon formulas, it puts a fresh spin on them. The con men’s animal partners- an armadillo (of all things) and a horse- nearly steal the show. Elton John’s score isn’t as memorable as his work for The Lion King but is still leagues ahead of Phil Collins’ similar Greek-chorus routine in Tarzan. The only bummer is a monster transformed out of rock (reminiscent of Warner’s dreary Quest for Camelot) which seems a sop to the monster-toy-collecting little boys in the audience.
If the movie inspires any regret, it’s that DreamWorks, which is so eager to make its name as a maverick movie studio, hasn’t blazed any new trails for animated films yet. The movie still sticks with the hero/villain/funny-sidekick formula that has worn Disney thin recently, and the movie’s idea of cartoon trailblazing is to have Tulio make out with the curvy vixen and say the H-word a couple of times. But since the film is far more charming and less pretentious than DreamWorks’ Antz and The Prince of Egypt, it might be worth cutting them some slack for a while.
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