I loved everything about my time in college, I really did. The school was great, the art classes were fun, and since our group had all the same classes, I made a bunch of new friends. But every once in a while I needed a break. So from time to time, my fellow TNU member John and I would leave school early to go see a movie.
In the spring of 2000, we skipped our last class and headed to the General Cinema in Braintree Ma. By the time we got there, our options were limited and we decided to see the animated film “The Road to El Dorado.” I wasn’t too thrilled at the idea, but as I sat there, once scene came along made me think we made the right choice.
In this scene, the film’s two heroes (Tulio and Miguel) and their horse are stranded in a rowboat in the ocean off Central America. Both guys fear this is the end, then a seabird appears and lands on their boat. Tulio and Miguel take this as good omen that land is near. Then the bird drops dead, and then a shark leapt out of the water and snaps up the bird in one gulp. This sequence made me laugh my head off, and from this point I was 100% into “The Road to El Dorado.”
As I mentioned above, “The Road to El Dorado” stars Tulio (Kevin Kline) and Miguel (Kenneth Branmagh). The two friends are gamblers and con artists in Spain, 1519. With the help of some loaded dice, they win a map to the treasures of El Dorado, but as they try to escape the local authorities, they find themselves on board Hernando Cortes’ ship as the explorer sails for the new world in search of treasure.
Tulio and Miguel are discovered and sentenced to flogging and enslavement. This should have been it for these two, but they manage to escape with a little help from a horse named Altivo. This is where that rowboat scene I mentioned earlier comes in.
Anyways, Tulio and Miguel eventually arrive in the new land, and they realize the map the won in Spain is real. Now they gotta find El Dorado, so it’s a good thing they meet a young native girl named Chel, voiced by Rosie Perez.
She brings our two heroes to El Dorado and there they meet chief Tannabok (voice of Edward James Olmos) who mistakes them for gods. We also meet the villain of the movie, high priest Tzekel-Kan (Armand Assante).
During their time in El Dorado, Tulio and Miguel are treated like royalty, and they have all the riches they could ever hope for. But when news arrives that Cortes is closing in, the two friends face a dilemma: stay and help defend the city, or sail back to Europe with their newfound treasures.
I thought the animation was rather good, but then again I’ve always preferred this style of animation. Some of the character designs even remind me of the late, great Mike Wieringo. If you’re a comic book fan you’ll see what I mean.
The movie also features songs by Elton John and Tim Rice. Now, I will admit that the new songs are not quite as good as the duo’s “Lion King” stuff, but the new songs are still quite catchy and fun.
Look, I’m not saying “The Road to El Dorado” is the greatest movie in the history of feature animation, but it is a fun and bright movie with all kinds of funny moments that will keep kids and adults happy.