Most people will say that Disney has the market cornered on cartoon movies, and everyone else is just a cheap copy. The Road To El Dorado is one of the exceptions to that notion.
With a good storyline, interesting characters and plenty of humor, this is a movie for everyone. The characters are well-fleshed out and become believable. Of course, the animation is only part of the story. The voices tend to make or break a character. Who could imagine anyone but Robin Williams as the Genie in Aladdin (1992), for example?
Even though this movie had a few surprising voice actors (Kenneth Branagh and Armand Assante?), they fit very well with the movie, and it wouldn’t have been as good without them. Kenneth Branagh and Kevin Kline lend the two main characters an extra vitality that would have been lost without them. Also Rosie Perez, Armand Assante, and even Edward James Olmos give their characters a lot of life. And the horse is simply hilarious, from the almost human noises and expressions to mouthing “El Dorado” with Miguel and Tulio as they enter the city, the horse is incredibly entertaining.
The plot is entertaining and engaging. How many stories have been written about El Dorado? How can you make a movie that stands out from the numerous offerings out there? Animate it! Give the characters a lot of good, yet funny, dialogue, and keep the people entertained. It works great here.
The Road to El Dorado DVD is packed with extras, mostly for the kids. From Brain Teasers and Mazes to Coloring Pages and a PC Game Demo, kids will have a blast. The Elton John video I’m sure will get old fast, but oh well, can’t have everything. (One interesting note, though: in the video, Elton becomes a cartoon himself. Since the success of The Lion King (1994), he’s basically King of cartoon soundtracks, so you can almost see him showing his power in the video.) The trailer is here, thankfully. I hate it when they don’t include that. They even throw in a behind-the-scenes featurette!
It seems that the creators of this movie have found a way to make a popular cartoon feature. Take a well-known Disney voice (Kevin Kline, from The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)), throw in a cute animal character or two (Aladdin (1992), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996), Pocahontas (1995), etc.), have Elton John sing not just a song or two, but every single one (The Lion King (1994) had him sing a few, but I’m getting so sick of hearing him now!), and add a lot of humor, and you’ve got it made.
The Road to El Dorado took Disney’s formula, added a bit of their own, and came out with a great family movie. Kids will love it, and adults will get a kick out of it. Buy it if you have kids, or rent it when you’re in for a lighter movie with just a bit of heart.