A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Road to El Dorado is a DreamWorks animated film about two Spanish con artists from the early 16th century who discover the fabled lost "city of gold" in the New World and are treated as gods by the tribe who lives there. Some cartoonish violence -- sword fights between characters, a character cutting his hand with a knife, and characters nearly being crushed by a giant statue -- as well as brief, nonsexual nudity, and scenes where male and female characters kiss and lie next to each other. A scene in which a giant monster-dog goes after the main characters might be a bit much for younger viewers.
What's the story?
THE ROAD TO EL DORADO is set in 1519, as Cortes is planning "to conquer the New World for Spain, for glory and for gold." Miguel (voiced by Kenneth Branaugh) and Tulio (voiced by Kevin Kline) accidentally stow away, along with their one possession, a map to El Dorado, the legendary land of gold. They escape in a rowboat and land on a coast that looks just like the one in their map. They follow the map to the city of gold, and are welcomed as gods by the friendly chief (voice of Edward James Olmos) and his less friendly priest Tzekel-Kan (voice of Armand Assante). They are also welcomed by Chell (voice of Rosie Perez), who knows they are con men, but promises to help them if they will take her with them when they go. As they struggle to behave like gods, Miguel and Tulio begin to care about what happens to the people of El Dorado as Tzekel-Kan and Cortes try to grab what they want. Friendly rivalry turns hostile as Miguel thinks of staying behind and Tulio and Chell fall in love. The final conflict forces them to find out what their priorities really are.
Is it any good?
Dreamworks Animation SKG steps up to the Disney gold standard with this sensationally entertaining animated adventure. Kevin Kline and Kenneth Branaugh were in the same room when recording their dialogue, and it paid off. Kline and Branaugh, both classically trained and both masters of improvisation, bring humor and spontaneity to the relationship of the two characters, adding life and electricity to a medium that can often seem too staid. Think Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid crossed with a Bob Hope and Bing Crosby road picture. It's no coincidence that the "Road to" title and one of the best gags in the movie pay loving tribute to the Hope-Crosby series.
The animation is terrific; the character's expressive faces are especially well done. El Dorado is suitably magical, and the scenes with humor and tension are expertly handled, especially a high-stakes basketball-style game and the climactic escape. Aside from the lackluster Elton John-Tim Rice score, this is an outstanding family movie.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Tulio's statement: "You know that voice that tells people to quit when they're ahead? Miguel, you don't have one." What does that mean? Why does Miguel take risks that Tulio thinks are not wise?
How do you think The Road to El Dorado compares with other animated movies you've seen? Is it as funny an action-packed as others you've liked?
Ask kids if they understand what a con man is, and if they think Tulio and Miguel will continue to cheat people in the future.
- In theaters: March 31, 2000
- On DVD or streaming: December 12, 2000
- Cast: Kenneth Branagh, Kevin Kline, Rosie Perez
- Director: Eric Bibo Bergeron
- Studio: DreamWorks
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Adventures, Friendship
- Run time: 89 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: mild thematic material and language
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.