Directed by Bibo Bergeron, Will Finn & Don Paul
Running Time: 1:29
Rated PG for mild thematic material and language

It's always a little strange going to these kinds of films by myself. Here I am, a 27 year old male sitting in a theater with a bunch of kids and their parents. I know what the parents are thinking. But I go, because I love animated films, even if none of my friends do. When I first saw previews, I actually thought The Road to El Dorado looked a lot like Disney animation. And for the most part it followed the Disney trademark: Fast moving story, comedy, flashy animation sequences, and of course, the music. Elton John and Tim Rice teaming up again to bring you your typical Disney film. Only this time from Dreamworks.

The story follows Miguel (voice of Kenneth Branagh) and Tulio (voice of Kevin Kline) as they find (steal) a map that leads to the ancient gold of El Dorado. When they arrive, they are hailed as Gods, but one girl (Chel - voice of Rosie Perez) finds out their secret and more or less blackmails them into letting her go with them when they leave. The people of El Dorado are happy with their new Gods, but one man The High Priest Tzekel-Kan wants more. He wants the town cleansed and the Gods to lead them into the period of the Jaguar. Only when Tzekel-Kan finds out that Miguel and Tulio are not Gods, end enlists the help of Cortez to kill them. Reading this you might assume that this movie is very serious, but of course, it's not. It's a very light-hearted sort of movie, the kind of movie you expect from Dis... I mean Dreamworks.

Let me first start off by saying I really, really don't like Rosie Perez, either in human form or animated form. Even if it was only her voice I heard, every time her animated self opened her mouth, all I could see is Rosie. Couldn't they have gotten Jennifer Lopez or Salma Hayek if that was the way they were going? Something about Rosie Perez just gets on my nerves, so that sort of took away from my enjoyment of the film. I thought the play between Tulio and Miguel was funny. They (the animation and the voices) make a pretty good pair. I found the animation to be pretty good for a non-Disney film. I have a feeling Jeffrey Katzenberg took a lot of Disney animators with him when he left a few years back. The story moved along quickly enough. I've never met an animated film that really made sense story-wise, and this was no different. Then of course there was the music. I think there were probably 4-5 Elton John songs used in the film itself. Out of those I enjoyed 2 of them. The others I'm not so sure about. A lot of songs written specifically for movies tend to be forced. What I mean by that is, the songs are used to help explain the story, and to move the story along, so that the lyrics and music are defined by what's happening on screen. So sometimes the lyrics and music don't sound all that good because they need to match what's happening on screen, and can't stand alone and make sense. There's no question Elton John and Tim Rice are a talented duo though, and I'd be willing to guess the other songs on the soundtrack are pretty good.

So overall I thought The Road to El Dorado was a decent film. Not up there with some of the animated classics like Beauty and the Beast (one of my all time favorites, animated or not) or even last years Tarzan, but still good. Definitely a good film for the whole family to go see together.

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Reviewed 03/31/00

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