The Road to El Dorado (2000)

Early Dreamworks was an odd beast wasn’t it? I mean, let’s look at their first five movies. You had the worse version of the worst early Pixar movie starring Woody Allen which was a selling point in 1998. They then followed that up with the SINGLE MOST BEAUTIFUL TRADITIONALLY ANIMATED MOVIE EVER MADE BY A NORTH AMERICAN STUDIO FIGHT ME. After that was Road to Eldorado which we’re reviewing today and then a Claymation remake of the Great Escape with chickens. And then you had something called Shrek. I have no idea what Shrek is, but apparently it was a big deal at the time. Shrek. What is that? Sounds like a Care Bears villain from the eighties.

“Good work gang! We stopped Shrek from stealing the happy crystals!”

“Grrr, I’ll get you next time you meddling bears, or my name’s not Shrek!”.

Sorry, where was I? Right, the wildly inconsistent early lineup of Dreamworks. And here’s the thing, I know I rag on Dreamworks a lot, but today I want to rag on us.  I think we failed Dreamworks. I think we messed up. Dreamworks was like a little boy who came home from school one day and said “Look! I wrote a concerto!” and we were all “You idiot! You’ll never amount to anything writing concertos!” and the next day he came home and said “Today I sold some meth!” and we were all “That’s our boy! You keep selling that meth!”.

The kid had talent. The kid had potential. But we encouraged the wrong behaviour and now we have a meth dealer. Yay us.


And here’s the thing. We’re still doing it. We’re still rewarding bad behaviour and punishing good work. There’s a growing consensus among movie critics that sites like Rotten Tomatoes are a cancer on the craft. I’d never really bought into that until I casually checked Road to Eldorado’s RT score for this review.


I know, I know, everything’s subjective and everyone’s entitled to their own opinion but COME ON. This is Road to Eldorado people!  ROAD TO ELDORADO. RTED. I’m starting to think I’m the only one who understands the significance of that!

The film was originally conceived by Jeffrey Katzenberg, a man who specialises in films that make you go “Hmmmmmm…”

As in:





So stop me if you’ve heard this story. An animation studio plans a big, epic drama set in a reimagined Incan civilization. A big time rock star is brought on to write the songs. But then, oh noes! The studio decides to go in a radically different direction and turn the whole thing into a comedy, the story has to be reworked from scratch, directors come and go like Trumpian wives and everyone involved has a thoroughly miserable time. That’s right, Katzenberg was so dedicated to ripping off Emperor’s New Groove that he even ripped off its troubled production history.

Now THAT’s commitment.

I kid, I kid. Seriously though, the production was a hot mess and the first director, Will Finn (an animator with a “holy shit” list of credits that includes NIMH and the entire Disney Renaissance) talks about the movie the way Ahab talks about the white whale, as an eternal nemesis who took something from him he’ll never get back. Also, he doesn’t think it’s a good movie. Which brings me back to my earlier point.


Let’s do this.

Our story begins in Spain, that famous Spanish land. Hernan Cortes, voiced by Jim Cummings…

Take a shot.

…is preparing to launch his expedition to the New World. Now Hollywood has a rather disreputable history of portraying the early European explorers as dashing adventurers rather than psychopaths who thought that dismembered human hands were a solid basis for a currency system so I appreciate that, while Cortes is only in four very short scenes, those scenes make clear that he is a really, really bad dude. I mean, this is a guy who is literally plotting something evil in every single portrait of him you can find.

“Mwah ha ha ha ha…”

“Yes good, gooooood…”

“He suspects nothing. Excellent.”

We now meet our two heroes, Tulio (Kevin Kline) and Miguel (Kenneth Branagh), two conmen who are hustling a local dice game in the back alleys of Seville. Tulio is a lithe, swarthy streak of smoulder and Miguel is what happens when you cross the Jack of Hearts with a yellow lab that just wants to be your friend.

So Katzenberg wisely noted that, since everyone’s favourite characters in the films of the Disney Renaissance were the comedy relief characters, your Sebastiens, Iagos and Genies, why not just ditch the lead characters and make a movie about those guys? It really works too, in big part thanks to Kline and Branagh who recorded their lines together and generated a fantastic rapport. But I mean c’mon, what would you expect? With two actors of that calibre any movie would succeed.

Wow. And they had Will Smith too. They must have been trying to fail. Like, they were doing a Producers or something.

Anyway, the sailors they’re playing offer to bet them a map which they promise will lead them to the fabled city of El Dorado in South America, which is obviously a fake because as we all know El Dorado isn’t in South America.

“Eet’s in Efreeka.”

Anyway, Miguel really wants the map and Tulio can’t say no to his best gal so they bet it all on one roll of the dice and win. But when the sailors realise that they’ve been playing with loaded dice they call the guards and everything’s all “riff raff street rat scounderel take that” until Miguel and Tulio hide in some barrels and get loaded onto Cortes’ ship.

The pair break out of the barrels and are captured by the crew.

Okay, that’s gotta be a reference to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, it’s just gotta.

Cortes tells them they’ll be flogged, thrown into the brig, flogged some more and then sold into slavery in Cuba. Later, in the brig (where our heroes seem remarkably unphased about being flogged) they work on an escape plan. They enlist the help of Altivo, Cortes’ war horse in a hilarious scene where Miguel tries to bribe the horse with an apple to bring them a pry bar while Tulio tries in vain to explain that Altivo’s a dumb animal who can’t understand the concept of “pry bar”…only for Altivo to actually bring them the keys to the cell.

Because Miguel forgot to give Altivo his apple, the big horse follows them as they steal a long boat and get washed up on a tropical shore. Miguel consults his map and realises that they’re on the trail to El Dorado and convinces Tulio to go look for it and Tulio agrees because he can’t say no to his best gal.

We get a roadtrip montage of the boys having all kinds of fun in the Amazon rainforest despite the fact that the jaguars are literally the least lethal thing in there. Along the way they also pick up Bilbo, an armadillo who just kind of hangs around as a mute animal sidekick and only impacts the story once.  They reach the end of the trail which is just a big rock with a carving depicting two gods riding a serpent. Tulio is furious, telling Miguel that “El Dorado is apparently native for GREAT BIG ROCK!” and ordering him to get on Altivo so they can ride back the way they came. But suddenly, a woman carrying a pot runs into them. This is Chel (Rosie Perez).

You learn a lot, doing a blog like this. Sometimes you learn really cool and interesting things. Sometimes you learn really, really stupid things. For instance, in the early days of the internet there were people who hated Chel so much that they actually created fansites dedicated to hating this one cartoon character. Yes. “Chel Haters” were a thing (I’d a gone with Chaters, but hey, ain’t my weird-ass hate boner.) Why all the chatin’? Okay, fandom 101. You have two male characters, A and B.

Now, onscreen, A and B are two straight men who are just GOOD FRIENDS. However, a large segment of the fandom (mostly female, sorry guys, but let’s be honest here) will be very invested in the idea of A and B smoochin’ and holdin’ hands an’ such despite the fact that they are clearly just GOOD FRIENDS. Which means that when Character C shows up as a love interest for either A or B?

Oh mercy. C is in for a whole world of hate. In Chel’s case its made even worse by the persistent rumour that Tulio and Miguel were originally intended to be an openly gay couple and that Chel was only introduced after the studio got cold feet. But of course, this rumour is not true because.

  1. Chel was part of the concept for the film almost from the very beginning.
  2. Dreamworks were not going to spend almost a hundred million dollars on an animated kids movie about an openly gay couple exploring the Amazon rain forest on vacay almost twenty frickin’ years ago which you’d realise if you thought about it for like, five seconds. Like, just five.

So back off, chaters.

I love Chel. Possibly one of my favourite animated female characters. Really unique, appealing design (look at those little chipmunk cheeks), great voice performance, fantastic facial animation. Sexy? Well, duh, but in a way that’s very interesting and worth talking about. In his review of Mulan, Tim Brayton noted the scene where Mulan, as Ping, watches Shang strip off right before We Are Men and what a watershed moment that was for the Disney canon. Because here is a Disney princess admiring the male form in a way that is not “Oh mercy, he is so dashing” but “Damn boy”. It’s the first time a Disney movie actually admits that its heroine might actually…y’know…have sexual desires. Chel, however, not only clearly has those desires but acts on them and in a way that’s not simply pandering to audiences but is both appropriate to the character and drives the plot by creating a wedge between Miguel and Tulio Great and Powerful Gods. There’s one scene I absolutely adore where Chel brings the boys some new clothes and then, instead of giving them some privacy is just waiting for them to change like…

That’s new. That’s actually kind of groundbreaking. Although, I gotta say, the movie movie walks right up to the line of what’s appropriate for a kid’s movie. You may already know about the infamous “kissing” scene between Tulio and Chel where she is obviously nowhere near his head (well, actually)…

But there’s another scene where Tulio and Miguel are talking about Chel while Tulio is holding his pants and…well…

This movie is pure filth. I love it.

Chel is soon followed by some soldiers who take all of them prisoner and bring them behind the waterfall to the hidden city of El Dorado.

This movie is like Andy Samberg. It’s funny AND beautiful.

So the two most powerful men in El Dorado are Chief Tannabok (Edward James Olmos) and the High Priest Tzekel-kan (Armand Assante). Tzekel-kan welcomes Tulio and Miguel as gods who will usher in the Age of the Jaguar. Tzekel-kan sees Chel and orders her to be executed for stealing from the temple but Chel claims she received a vision from “the gods” and went out to meet them. Tulio and Miguel, feeling a kinship with this lying con-artist, back her up and Chel is released. Tzekel-kan asks the gods to demonstrate their power, and while Tulio and Miguel argue furiously over what to do a nearby volcano erupts which convinces the locals that they really are gods. That might seem crazy lucky but it’s actually not that different from what happened in real life. Cortes was able to topple the entire Aztec Empire purely because he happened to arrive the very year the Aztecs were expecting Quetzacoatl to mount his big comeback.

So if I described this movie to you and said “Two white guys find a lost native civilisation, are worshipped as gods and then save it from being destroyed” your first reaction would most likely be “Yikes!” but as in all things it’s not what you do with a story but how you do it. El Dorado avoids the usual White Savior tropes by very consciously putting its…El Doradoan? El Doradon? Anyway, it puts them on the same level as Miguel and Tulio. It never makes them seem like dupes or naïve children in need of saving, all of the main native characters are given their own personalities and agendas. We have three main El Doradan characters, Chell, Tannabok and Tzekal-khn. Even though he was the one that proclaimed Miguel and Tulio to be gods, Tzekal-kan sees through them pretty soon. Likewise, Tannabok has obviously figured out that Miguel and Tulio aren’t gods but he goes along with the ruse because it helps him in his power struggle against Tzekal-kan and conveys legitimacy to his efforts to reform El Dorado into a more just society. And Chel? Chel has them sussed out from minute one.

‘Cos that’s Chel.

The point is, all three character are active, distinct participants in the story, rather than passive objects to be saved by the white main characters.

I don’t like Tzekel-kan nearly as much as a I should, though. I really enjoy Assante’s vocal performance, he’s got some great lines and he sits in the sweet spot between entertaining and genuinely threatening. That said, I just can’t dig the character’s design. I get what they were going for, he’s modelled on a Pirahna and sure, that fits thematically and with the setting. But it just looks weird to me and I just have difficulty focusing on the character and not on the fact that is nose is higher than his eyes.

Anyway, Tulio and Miguel are brought to the temple and they can’t believe their luck. They decide to play the part of gods, fleece the El Doradans of everything they’ve got and then head back to Spain. But they don’t decide to enslave them, torture them and kill them all with smallpox meaning they are probably the most morally upstanding Spaniards in the history of the continent. Chel pops her head in and invites herself in on the con, saying that they’ll need someone who knows the local culture to help them pull off their heist.

For their first night in El Dorado, Tannabok throws the two a kick party that rapidly goes weird and technicolour because of course El Dorado was built on the site that one day become…


Of course, even after a crazy bender like that, you still have to go mass in the morning and the next day Tzekel-kan has the whole city march up to a cliff overlooking a whirlpool to offer a sacrifice to the gods.

What I really like about this scene is that it establishes that, while Tulio and Miguel might be shady conmen, they have a very clear sense of right and wrong. As soon as they realise what Tzekel-kan is about to do they’re all “Hard NO!”. They don’t even hesitate, even though they’re risking their own lives by halting the sacrifice. Tannabok seizes his chance and offers an alternative tribute, mountains and mountains of gold…which the El Doradans then proceed to throw into the whirlpool while Tulio and Miguel look on as sick as dogs.

As the days go by, Miguel starts to get more into the role of being a god and falling in love with El Dorado and its people, while Chel and Tulio start becoming closer too.

Like “how did this get a PG rating?”  close.

When Tzekel-kan sees Miguel playing ball with some local children, he arranges for the two gods to play Tannabok’s entire retinue of warriors. At first they get their sses handed to them but Chel hits on the bright idea of using Bilbo the armadillo as a ball and they cheat their way to victory (man, Chelsea pull that kinda shit all the time). Of course, Tzekel-kan orders the losing team to be sacrificed and Miguel is all “Okay buddy, that’s enough outta you.” and has Tzekel-kan banned from the city. TK then notices that Miguel is bleeding from where he was hit by the ball and is all “Waaaaaaait a minute…” but pretends to play nice and skulks away.

Meanwhile, Tannabok has finished building a ship for Tulio and Miguel so that they can get their gold home.

Because, as Werner Herzog taught us, the easiest way to travel through the rainforest is by ship.

Tannabok, who has by now figured out that Miguel and Tulio are mortal, invites them to stay in El Dorado. Miguel decides to take him up on this offer when he walks in on Tulio and Chel making out and realises that he’s no longer Tulio’s best gal. Later that night at a party to bid farewell to the gods, Tzekel-kan attacks with a gigantic stone jaguar monster (man, ‘member when villains used to turn into giant monsters? Mouse ‘members). TK is about to kill them but Tulio and Miguel are able to distract him by faking an argument (aka, how Ms Mouse and I get out of paying the cheque) and then punch him so that he falls into the whirlpool. Unbeknownst to them, he survives and gets washed outside the city where he’s found by Cortes. Cortes sees Tzekel-kan’s gold earrings and growls “Where did you get these?”

“Because they. Are. FABULOUS.”

Back in El Dorado, Tulio is getting ready to leave with Chel, and Miguel is getting ready to stay behind in El Dorado and they’re saying they’re goodbyes and I’m screaming at the screen “JUST KISS HIM YOU FOOL!”

But a scout arrives and warns them that Tzekel-kan is still alive and leading an army of mean looking white dudes who look like they’re just BRIMMING with smallpox. Tulio and Miguel realise they have to save the city by collapsing the passageway that leads to El Dorado by crashing their ship laden down with gold into the pillars holding the passage open. They pull it off just in time and when Cortes arrives he thinks that Tzekel-kan was lying to him and orders him to be taken away (yay!) to be sold into slavery (yikes!). And the movie ends with Tulio, Miguel, Chel and Altivo riding off to their next adventure in what was supposed to be a long series of profitable sequels. It would have been awesome.

Ah, you know what? Maybe it’s better this way.


Pretty high on the Mouse family’s rainy day rotation, the Road to El Dorado is a joyous, hilarious, colourful riot of a movie. Don’t listen to Rotten Tomatoes, don’t listen to IMDb or MetaCritic, don’t listen to the people who made it, listen to me. Mouse ever steered you wrong?

Okay fine, but apart from that?

Exactly.  See the damn movie.


Animation: 17/20

Okay, it’s not Prince of Egypt but it’s got some sumptous visuals, lovely character designs and some spot on comedic timing.

Leads: 17/20

Miguel and Tulio! Tulio and Miguel! Great and powerful leads!

Villain: 17/20

Okay, my weird hang-up on the design aside, I do think Tzekal-khan is a great villain.

Supporting Characters: 17/20

Chell and the Chief are the reason why this thing doesn’t devolve into dodgy white savior tropes.

Music: 15/20

What’s the matter Mouse? Don’t like Elton John?


NEXT UPDATE: 29 March 2018

NEXT TIME: A horse is a horse is a horse, of course…


  1. “…The worst early Pixar movie…” It is impossible to know if that is an insult on Bug’s Life or a huge praise for Pixar.
    I do not love this movie, but I definitely had fun watching it with the jaguar monster being my favorite part.

  2. I adore the Road to El Dorado but the internet has ruined me and I can no longer say anything relevant and pithy about it without awkwardly shoehorning memes.
    So I’ll just say that’s its a great movie with a good cast and Chel is excellent.

  3. I really need to finally check this one out. I only know it from that “Both is good” reaction gif.

    Wish I could peek into the alternate universe where Dreamworks stuck with the traditional animation. Not that all their CGI films are bad, it would just be cool to have a major movie studio in the west who was still doing cel animation, and their stuff was beautiful.

    1. There was a cancelled Dreamworks film called “Me and My Shadow,” based around the premise that our shadows live in their own separate reality, and some plot shenanigans compel the shadow of Bill Hader’s character to take control of his actions. All the shadow characters were to be hand-drawn. If that idea sounds interesting, I believe an animator who worked on the project, Matt Williames, shared a reel of unused footage on his Tumblr (

      Yeah, I still call bullshit on Katzenberg’s whole spiel about hand-drawn animation being defunct. Dude was just salty that the Sinbad movie under-performing. The MOMENT a traditionally animated movie makes a lot of bank, watch it all come back. Only problem is that no one is willing to try; all of Europe’s animated movies never see the light of day in the States, and the two most recent times Disney has attempted to revive the medium they chose to have it compete against two different colossal blockbusters.

      All of Dreamworks’ early stuff has a lot of charm to them for how daring each individual film is. Shrek was the first one to make a lot of money, but it’s El Dorado and Prince of Egypt that most people have fonder memories of. Now I look at Dreamworks’ future, where a Boss Baby 2, Croods 2, Trolls 2 and new Shrek and Madagascar films are in development, and I can’t help but remiss for what might have been…

      …hold on, they’re NOT giving Captain Underpants a sequel? What the hell?

      1. I dunno, man… these days, how much “bank” a movie (or type of movie) brings is determined by a lot more than just the box office (domestic or international). I think I recall reading an article from a while back that execs and shareholders see CGI as an inherently “safer” option for animated movies, because the animators are so much more expendable. You can kick out and replace a whole team in mid-production, and the resulting product will still hang together a lot more smoothly than it would in a traditionally-animated movie.

        Mouse even said that’s one of the biggest draws of CGI animation – as long as your people have a baseline amount of training, it will never, ever go off-model.

  4. This and HTTYD are so excellent and under-appreciated, but I think it’s for the best that it didn’t get a sequel. As a kid, for whom the line between fantasy and reality was VERY blurred, I liked the idea that that was it; El Dorado was never raided and stayed hidden forever, the end. The loss of the gold and the inability to return combine to create one of the earliest bittersweet endings I can remember. (At least, I thought so at the time; I didn’t realise losing all the gold was comedic.)

    And really? Chel hate was a thing? But she’s so funny. I still remember as a teen watching it and realising she had chunky legs like me but that was shown as beautiful.

    I love this film. It’s hilarious and sumptuous and fast and oh God, why did Dreamworks movies have to get so ugly? *sobbing*

  5. I love this movie even though I feel like I shouldn’t. It might just be because I love Kenneth Branaugh but still.

    To be honest I never really hated Dreamworks until Boss Baby was nominated for an Oscar. They get to put “Oscar Nominated” on all the DVD boxes. I can live with the final result, even though The Breadwinner deserved to win. I can’t stand that Boss Baby and Ferdinand were nominated.

    1. Granted I have not seen Boss Baby but can it be worse than Shark Tale which was already nominated a long time ago.

    2. Wait, they’re actually using their Oscar nomination as a selling point? That’s just all kinds of wrong (For one, what kid or parent would even care?).

  6. Oh I love this movie. When my dad was a Spanish teacher he would show this all the time in class (he admits it’s not super historically accurate but he was also very invested in his students knowing the Spanish conquistadors were not good people).

    On that note, my cultural anthropology professors would kill me if I didn’t mention that the whole “mistaking Cortes for Quetzalcoatl” thing was probably cooked up by the Spanish after the fact. Moctezuma probably understood full well Cortes was just a dude, but by the time he realized he was dangerous it was too late. Cortes had rallied most of the other tribes in the area against the ruling Mexica (they were not popular), plus smallpox. Like you said, conquest was mostly smallpox.

    Sorry, history nerd digression over. Great movie, great review. I’m looking forward to another one of Dreamworks pre-Shrek 2D movies. El Dorado was the only one. I ever saw so this’ll be a new experience.

  7. El Dorado is…fine. It does what it sets out to do admirably enough but it just keeps setting itself up for comparison with frankly way better Disney films so it suffers by comparison. Oh you got Elton John to do the music? That’s great, remind me of how these songs are nowhere near as good as the ones in Lion King. It’s pretty much that for almost every aspect of the film. Which solidly puts it into realm of good, hell it probably puts it just outside the of the top 5 Dreamworks animated films though that may be more of a condemnation of the majority of Dreamworks animated films than anything else (for the record, it’s Prince of Egypt, HTTYD, HTTYD 2, Kung Fu Panda, and Megamind IMO).

    On a semi-related note, can we talk about how Dreamworks is EASILY the biggest culprit behind the “cast recognizable stars as the leads in your animated films despite them not having any real experience in voice acting” trend of the last 20 or so years? I know Disney kicked off that trend with stuff like Billy Joel and Bette Midler in Oliver and Company and ESPECIALLY Robin Williams in Aladdin, but Dreamworks is the studio that made it basically a fucking requirement for a wide animated release. With the exception of Wallace and Grommit Curse of the Were Rabbit they have done it for literally every single one of their animated films. Every. Last. One. And while most of their choices have been OK, it’s led to stuff like John Cena being the lead in Ferdinand and Jim Carrey in Horton Hears a Who and dear god I just want these kinds of roles to go to people who make an actual career out of this again, or at least people who aren’t A-list you see them literally everywhere level famous. Pixar hits a good sweetspot with this where they generally get people who are recognizable but not absurdly crazily famous (like Albert Brooks for Finding Nemo or Ed Asner for Up).

  8. The problem with redoing a Crosby-Hope “Road” picture is that it makes keeping the plot moving smoothly REALLY hard. And this one gets into “Man who Would be King” WAY early. I think what initially sank this is that while the scenes are individually good to great, the transitions aren’t.

    Still easily the best “Road” revival (beating “Spies Like Us” and “Ishtar” (which is not nearly as bad as its rep, while still being nowhere near good). Maybe “El Dorado” would have worked better as their second adventure, though I can’t imagine what we’d rip off for the first..

  9. Nope, don’t complain to me…I did it right. Because I watched The Prince of Egypt and Spirit in Theatres and skipped most of the other ones.

    Road of El Dorado, well, sorry, never liked it. I mean, yeah, it has some unusual characters, but that is really the only thing it has going for it. The songs are annoying, the story is full of plot holes and while the characters are unusual they aren’t even a little bit likable.

    1. I can respect your decision, but he was just an actor in that. That’s akin to boycotting Bug’s Life just because Kevin Spacey is in it.

  10. You actually like this film? It’s one of the Dreamworks films that’s a I hate the most. Granted it looks pretty but that’s about it. Just because you have a gorgeous traditional animation does not mean the rest isn’t full Dreamworks garbage. Granted I might be influenced too much by my loathing of the liar plot but the characters are horribly irrating and the plot so trite and jokes aren’t funny and it’s pretty hollow film apart form the cliches. And sexualiation in kids films isn’t a positive. You can do it if you have a point and do it well but it’s not an automatic plus. And would you say if you saw a male character act the same it’s automatic plus?

    In any case I hope you do more Dreamworks reviews. Maybe not all of them since they have done so many films that if you compare their canon to Disney’s they are on mid Renaissance amount of films already, kind of crazy.

    1. You are so wrong it actually hurts. Sex-positivity is perfectly fine in a kids film. We have so many kids films with rampant violence, but we steer away from sex. Why? It’s ridiculous. This isn’t even a Liar Revealed plot because every important character knows by the end and no one gets angry. I love the characters and the jokes. The plot is trite in some ways, sure, but it also avoids many tropes as well.

      1. I think bringing up violence is kind of straw man argument. Expecially for with kids films were violence is not real violence. And you get a lot of wrong ideas about sexuality and expecially how women are portrayed and kids pick up lot of stuff subconsciously. For kids expecially it’s should be made clear that relationships should becan with liking someone’s personality and being just drawn to someone’s looks and not actively judging them based on looks which is a lot of what lust is at the start.

        And I said liar plot is my pet peeve but I don’t see how it has anything to do how it ends if it’s grating or not. People can have personal opinions.

    2. “Does not mean the rest isn’t full Dreamworks garbage.”

      Umm…have you NOT been seeing what Dreamworks has been putting out the past few years?

      I’m not personally bothered by the sex jokes in this movie. As Mouse pointed out, they don’t really go too far. It’s actually something I can appreciate about these earlier Dreamworks films. They weren’t deterred to have a bit of an edge and not have it completely market to kids. Antz, Prince of Egypt, Chicken Run, El Dorado, even Shrek and Sinbad had swearing, violence, innuendo, and even more nuanced and adult story themes and jokes in some cases. It’s a shame the only other thing in recent memory that compares to PG-era Dreamworks is…Sausage Party.

      1. I kind of tried to do Dreamworks marathon but dropped out around Penguins of Madagascar. But is was more getting tired than anything, even their batter films have similar issues and there is just so many of them.

    3. Oh, so cartoon violence isn’t real violence, but cartoon misogyny is completely real? If you’re gonna argue one, you have to argue the other. Chel, sexy and sexual though she is, is a character with agency. It’s like people who don’t like Jessica Rabbit because they don’t actually bother to examine her character at all- just how she looks and is viewed by the male characters (who are allowed to be wrong/the butt of the joke due to their misogyny). Characters lusting after another may not be the best way to succeed in many relationships, but it’s a very real thing (certainly more real than Disney’s “fall in love in three days” trope) and all of the characters are on the same page as each other. That’s what matters more imo.

  11. Took you long enough! I asked for this like two years ago!
    Also I feel like Tulio and Miguel deserve a 20/20. The only thing I’d change about them is them not ending up together, which obviously was never going to happen but STILL

  12. El Dorado is very low in my DreamWorks ranking but this review was great and funny. Keep up the good work!

  13. I had this movie on VHS and loved it, but I haven’t seen it in YEARS. It might’ve even been 10 years, and I’m only 21, so that’s a lot for me. I should rewatched it on Netflx (I don’t have a VHS player anymore)

  14. “El Dorado” is one of my favorite Dreamworks movies, even though it leans pretty heavily on the “Man Who Would Be King” trope. So I pretty much agree with your scores except for, well, the score. The musical one, that is. The songs are fine, I guess, but the movie can’t decide if it wants the songs to be diagetic or non-diagetic and the lack of consistency bothers me.

  15. Never ever saw this movie…though I heard about it as a kid. It kind of came and went in the blink of an eye when it came to it’s theatrical release. As for Spirit, I have an…unusual history with that movie. I’ve never seen it. I missed it’s theatrical run as a kid, but my Mom bought it for me on VHS later. (Brand new, I might add!) I opened it, put it on, and…it’s too fuzzy, even with adjusting the tracking! (Remember doing that?) I tried it on several other VCRs, and got the same result on every one. Since I wasn’t dying to see it, I got rid of it, and that was that.

  16. A most excellent start to the March of Dreamworks my good Mouse! (tell truth, I’m hearing “It’s tough to be a God” in my head even as one thinks of this dear old film from Yesteryear – and have been doing so since reading this write-up on Friday).

    I’m looking forward to seeing your thoughts on the next film in this series of reviews, as I vaguely recall seeing it at some prior point in time but cannot clearly recall it (not having had access to a VCR of that particular production – and relatively few others – while ensconced some miles from the best TV reception back in the days before DVDs).

  17. I completely forgot to mention my Brand New crackpot theory in the post above (aka “53% of the reason I posted in the first place):

    I am morally certain that Tulio is Flynn Rider’s daddy – the goatee, the smoulder, a knack for criminal adventures, the fondness for high-spirited blondes, habitual vexation by a big white horse smarter than a stallion has any right to be … wait a minute, I thought this was supposed to be a CRACKPOT Theory.

    At this point I’m becoming morally certain that if Tulio and Eugene met up there’d have to be some kind of “Daddy was going to send for you when he became a Big Star at Dreamworks” speech (“Dad, I just want you know that … I’m keeping Uncle Miguel. Get Lost”).

      1. Well given that Chel and Tulio (“Tulio and Chel!”) were born continents and an ocean apart it’s extremely likely that neither party in this hook-up was bumping into their first partner (even if you don’t count Miguel); I mean LOOK at those dashing rapscallions!

  18. While distributed by Dreamworks, Chicken Run and Flushed Away are Aardman productions. You can tell by the way they feel so very British.

  19. Beautiful animation, but that’s about it for me. Oh, I do sing the “It’s Tough to be a God” song often, but don’t like any of the other songs.

    I always feel weird watching Tulio and Chel; they’re way too sexual together for a film like this, lol!

  20. Never watched this, but maybe I will. But while we’re on the subject of Dreamworks, I’m just curious if you’ve seen the Captain Underpants movie, because that movie was a lot better than I thought it was going to be.

      1. Just as a disclaimer, I’d say that the movie is more enjoyable if you’ve read the books it’s based on, like I have.

  21. Cool, a cartoon movie. It feels as if it’s been forever. Maybe that’s because I’ve been slacking off with the reading of this blog, but still. I remember this movie too. It’s a bit in the shadow of its Disney counterparts and 3d CGI Dreamworks counterparts, but not all that bad. Also, if you’re going to call A Bug’s Life the worst early Pixar movie, you’re going to have to fight me. Sure, I’m most likely showing my age when I say that, as it seems it’s a movie you have to be in your 20s now to be fond of, but still, it was one of the few early Pixar movies that had a Brains vs. Brawn matchup where the Brains was good. Also, Atta’s a cooler Pixar princess than Merida, fight me on that too. Even if I’ll probably lose, because I’m not on the brawny side either. But enough with that tangent, what about El Dorado?

    Wait, wait, Inca? Wasn’t El Dorado a Mayan city in the movie? It had Xibalba and Pok a Tok and everything! That’s like, an entire continent off from Cusco. I guess Katzenberg wasn’t all that great with geography if he wanted to rip off The Emperor’s New Groove. Clearly those sailors weren’t either, by the looks of that script. In any case, that Bahia joke was worth all the geographical confusion. I just hope we don’t make Latin America map feel too dizzy. Also, guess if the early European explorers were into severed human hands, it seems pretty appropriate to give Cortes the same voice actor as Razoul.

  22. Hmm, Hamlet gets to be Rosencrantz now? I mean, I guess if Lord Capulet can try to help out King Lear (who is actually somewhere between Hamlet Sr. and Duncan) and Romeo can charm Ophelia, then steal her own death from her, I guess that could work. Thespians sure can be confusing. Also, apparently Rosencrantz is also Jack Sparrow as well? Why not. As for Chel, I’m pretty sure the real reason she’s so unpopular is because she’s too damn ugly. An attractive Maya person had a prominent profile with a big nose, clearly that pitifully dinky li’l snoot of hers branded her the homeliest chick this side of Meg Griffin. Also, I bet Sir Elton John wishes Red Skull had taken the Zim with him during the schism, huh?

    Nice review. It’ll be cool to see what you think of (the much less memorable) Spirit.

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