Road to El Dorado [2000]

In its third foray into animated features, DreamWorks came up with something unfortunate: the routine animated picture. Plagued with production problems (it was originally conceived as a mold-breaking PG-13 adventure), the likable film is a Hope/Crosby-style road picture about two scalawags who stumble upon the Latin American paradise of El Dorado, the mythical city with riches of gold. Kenneth Branagh and Kevin Kline are quite fun as Miguel and Tuilo, two Spanish con artists who are shipwrecked in the New World with a scene-stealing horse. The pair follow a map to the secret city where their loyalty will be tested: do they return home rich men or continue to live in this paradise? Of course there are some obstacles: a high priest (Armand Assante) is locked in a power struggle with the benevolent chief (Edward James Olmos) and the perfunctory girlfriend (Rosie Perez) puts the two friends at odds. Like too many of the animated features of its time, The Road to El Dorado impresses only on a visual level (it's drenched in gorgeous greens and golds). The story and Elton John's songs are quite forgettable; only Branagh and Kline's playful banter keeps the film alive. The PG rating is for some bare backsides and a suggestion of off-screen sex that should soar right over the little ones' heads. Slick and light, it's a fine 83-minute entertainment for ages 5 and up, including the nondiscriminating adult. --Doug Thomas

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