My Thoughts: THE ROAD TO EL DORADO (2000)


Wow, this movie was released 13 years ago and only NOW I’ve seen it for the first time!

Why waste any more time? Let’s see what I have to say about this film!

What’s the story? This DreamWorks Animation film features two con artists, Tulio and Miguel, voiced by Kevin Kline and Kenneth Branagh, respectively. They live their lives conning people, escaping from the authorities, doing the usual con-people stuff, etc.

Mandolin playing is a definite requirement of conning!
Mandolin playing is a definite requirement of conning!

During one of their scuffles with the authorities, they hide on Conquistador Cortés’ ship and are soon after discovered and held prisoner. They then, (quite miraculously, in my opinion), escape and end up on an island that claims to be the home of the city of gold, El Dorado.

A rocky start to a golden opportunity!
A rocky start to a golden opportunity!

They set off in pursuit for this opulent city and the rest of the movie deals with their experiences in El Dorado!

Aka King Midas' hometown!
Aka King Midas’ hometown!

So, do I like this movie? Ehh…..not really!

"It maketh no sense-th to me!"
“It maketh no sense-th to me!”

Ok, why don’t I like the movie that much? Let’s first examine the story more closely. Now some of you may be wondering, “How did they know how to get to El Dorado when they ended up on that island?”. Well, during one of their loaded dice scams, they won a map to El Dorado from Jigsaw of the Saw films.

"Hello Tulio and Miguel, do you want to play a game?"
“Hello Tulio and Miguel, do you want to play a game?”

Well, actually they won it from a character who was voiced by Jigsaw of the Saw films.

"Hello Tulio and Miguel, do you want to play a game?"
“Hello Tulio and Miguel, do you want to play a game?”

Now my question is, why does this guy have a map to El Dorado and not care about it? Does he not believe in it? If he DOES believe in it, why would he lay it as a wager for a lousy dice game and not just go find the golden city himself? And if he DOESN’T believe in it, then why does he have it in the first place? Did he just find it at a 16th century flea market and decided to keep it in case he needs to re-earn his gambled income? So many answers, and so little questions!

Ok, assuming we understood that previous predicament; now that Tulio and Miguel have the map, they forget about it for a while because they’re busy escaping from the authorities. The only time they remember that they have possession of the map is when they wash ashore on THE SAME ISLAND THAT IS PRINTED ON THE MAP! WHAT ARE THE ODDS OF THAT HAPPENING?! I’m sorry, that’s just too much chance for me to handle!

"Calm down, drama king!"
“Calm down, drama king!”

Ok, assuming we understood even THAT predicament; why is the name of this movie, The Road to El Dorado? It’s so misleading! We can understand the word, “road”, in two ways. The first way is that there’s a physical road that our main characters have to follow to reach the golden city; and that is FALSE! They actually have to traverse a river’s waters to get to the city!

"Propel, propel, propel your craft...gently down liquid solution. Ecstatically, ecstatically, ecstatically, ecstatically, existence is but an illusion!"
“Propel, propel, propel your craft…gently down liquid solution. Ecstatically, ecstatically, ecstatically, ecstatically, existence is but an illusion!”

And the second way is that the word, “road”, refers to the journey that our main characters made to get to the golden city; and that is MISLEADING ALSO! The main characters didn’t go on ANY journey to find the place! They miraculously washed ashore on the island, in question! And from the journey from the shore of the island to the golden city itself takes place DURING ONE SONG SEGMENT! A MERE 5-8 MINUTE SONG SEGMENT IS THE SPAN OF TIME THAT IT TAKES OUR CHARACTERS TO FIND EL DORADO! MOVIE, YOU SERIOUSLY NEED A TITLE CHANGE!

Even this title doesn't work!
Even this title doesn’t work!

Ok, let’s move on to the voice acting. The voice acting…fluctuates between being considered good by me and being considered bad by me. There are scenes where I’m like, “Oh, Kevin Kline, that was good!” and then other scenes where I’m like, “Oh, Kevin Kline, what’s wrong with you?”. There are scenes where I’m like, “Oh, Kenneth Branagh, you ain’t that bad!” and there are scenes where I’m like, “Oh, Kenneth Branagh, is that really you?”. And don’t get me started on the voices of the citizens of El Dorado. I didn’t like any of their voices!

"(Scoff) Did he just diss us?" "Calm down, I'm sure it's just a misunderstanding."
“(Scoff) Did he just diss us?”
“Calm down, I’m sure it’s just a misunderstanding.”

Next are the songs! I don’t like any of them! It’s Tough to be a God tries hard to be crafty and catchy, but still fails in its endeavor. Elton John and Tim Rice should have stopped working on animated films after writing Be Prepared!

Come on, this is just EPIC! How can you imagine topping this?
Come on, this is just EPIC! How can you imagine topping this?

Finally, we come to the animation and this is the only category that I have something good to say! The movie is so artistically beautiful, detailed, colorful, vibrant, and just gorgeous to look at! DreamWorks Animation used to have an AMAZING traditional hand-drawn animation style; I wish they’d do another film this way instead of making them all CGI films!

"That'll never happen as long as I'm the CEO! MUAHAHAHAAAA!"
“That’ll never happen as long as I’m the CEO! MUAHAHAHAAAA!”

So, is the animation the only thing I loved about this movie? Umm…yeah…oh wait, this movie also has my favorite line ever!

Now if only real life will provide me with an opportunity to say, "It will be loquacious to a fault!"
Now if only real life will provide me with an opportunity to say, “It will be loquacious to a fault!”

All in all, I’m glad that I saw this movie, mostly for the animation; but the story, voice actors, and songs quite disappointed me. This is the only DreamWorks Animation film, till date, to not make a profit at the box office, and I can sure see why! It took me 13 years to see this movie, and it’ll probably take me another decade before I decide to re-watch it!


11 thoughts on “My Thoughts: THE ROAD TO EL DORADO (2000)”

  1. I love Road to El Dorado.

    1. Because, no joke, my best friend and I are Tulio and Miguel .We watched this movie a few months ago, and were CRACKING UP. I know a lot of people say they resemble characters in cartoons. But trust me on this, I am so like Tulio, and she is so like Miguel. It’s uncanny (In personality, not looks).

    2. This film does have plot holes. That is true. But I’m certain that the filmmakers weren’t going for a big epic. This is a more lighthearted and fancy free film, if you will. When I watch it, I totally get so wrapped up in the Mise-En-Scene and the Character Arches. Those, to me, overshadow the plot issues. The film is colorful, with beautiful design elements that contrast Old World from New. The Mise-en-scene of the film functions in a way that you see not historical similarities between the two, but something more along the line of metaphorical. And Miguel and Tulio’s arches are interesting, and their relationship is compelling. Tulio and Chel’s relationship is also, interesting,and more convincing and realistic than 90% of animated relationships. (They’re not my favorite couple, but are one of the most convincing).

    3. Because of what I just said, this film reminds me of Beauty in the Beast. Of course, Beauty and the Beats is 10 times better than El Dorado. Any self respecting film reviewer would rank Beauty and the Beast over El Dorado. What I mean one similar is that both have huge, blaring, plot holes. But the music, character designs, environmental designs, and mise-en-scenes acts as cover ups for the plot holes, and thus both movies are still incredibly enjoyable to me.

    I think what I most like about this film is that it’s hilarious. It’s one of my favorite buddy films, and it excels on that level. I can watch this film numerous times, and still laugh. Some of the best dialogue in any animated film, for me, bar none.

    1. Thanks for the longest comment ever on my site 😉 !

      Yeah, the dialogue was quite enjoyable as was the animation.

      I didn’t like Chel and Tulio’s relationship, it seemed too rushed to me and more seductive and lusty a relationship than an actual love relationship; but that’s probably me picking nits.

      Every movie has its fanatics, but I’m not one of them for this film.

      1. Yeah, that’s probably why I thought their was more realistic, actually. From what I see, 99%%%% of relationships aren’t started because it’s ‘True love at first site” or “We don’t get along but we’lll eventually fall in love” like almost all animated films have. It was nice to see a relationship start out differently, and I appreciated that.

        Haha, and sorry about that, I’m just very opinionated >_<

  2. Hello there! I must admit that I’m siding with Kenzie here as I’ve recently reviewed the film and, despite it’s flaws, I really enjoyed it. I understand it’s faults and why people may not enhoy it, but I find it a fun film feast like The Emperor’s New Groove, or even Atlantis: The Lost Empire. They’ll never be classics, but I’ll still find myself watching them years later.

    Great review though and, if you like and I apologise for the blatant advertising, you can have a look at my review for The Road to El Dorado. I’m doing the short and now defunct line of traditionally animated DreamWorks films. I’ve done The Prince of Egypt and The Road to El Dorado so far and I’d love to see what you think of my views on the film. Again, great review (although I disagree in the main).

    1. Welcome to the blog and thanks for commenting!

      I can’t say that the film didn’t try sincerely to be entertaining, but it just didn’t work its magic on me.

      And by all means, advertise away! I love reading animation reviews!

  3. I remember seeing this movie in theaters and didn’t have much of an opinion of it. Looks like DreamWorks was trying too hard to ride on Elton John’s coattails and I only vaguely remember the El Dorado theme or the music video where Elton John gets animated. In hindsight, this movie gets problematic how it downplays Spain’s rampant colonization centuries ago especially since them and Portugal were the first European countries to do so much like how Disney whitewashes colonialism with Pocahontas.

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