Western Animation: The Road to El Dorado

We're the greatest! We... we won! Hurrah for us! Right?

A traditionally-animated film by DreamWorks Animation. The Road to El Dorado follows the adventures of Spaniards Tulio and Miguel as they try to con and cheat their way to fame and fortune. A game of chance earns them a Treasure Map which seems to point the way to El Dorado: the lost "City of Gold."

The two (mis)adventurers stow away by accident on Cortez's (yes, that Cortez) flagship, and their escape strands them in the New World with only Cortez's horse and the treasure map for company. Seeking enough gold to "buy Spain", they set off into the jungles of Central America, where they'll find something worth much more than treasure.

The film was a pretty big flop, but it shouldn't have been; it's ridiculously fun to watch, especially so if you understand the idea behind the film. According to the producers, after seeing so many animated features whose heroes were upstaged by more memorable sidekicks, they decided to just cut out the typical "hero" characters and center the film on Those Two Guys in the first place. Essentially, the end result is a cartoon version of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. With the plot of The Man Who Would Be King. With songs by Elton John.

As might be expected from the title and the two con-artists traveling plotline, the film is heavily influenced by the Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, and Dorothy Lamour series of Road to ... films of the 1940s.

This film provides examples of:

  • The Abridged Fanfic: Here. Enjoy.
  • Achilles in His Tent: Miguel, after a fight with Tulio, decides to stay in El Dorado while Tulio and Chel sail back to Spain. When he sees that they're about to be crushed by a giant pillar, he rushes back to save them.
  • Adipose Rex: Chief Tannabok.
  • Agent Mulder: Miguel to Tulio's Agent Scully.
  • Agent Scully: Tulio to Miguel's Agent Mulder.
  • All Animals Are Dogs: Altivo. Somewhat lampshaded by Tulio.
    Tulio: [after Altivo fetches keys for an apple] For Pete's sake, Miguel! He's a ruthless warhorse, not a poodle!
  • Artistic License – History: Let's be serious. Excluding the presence of fairies and talking worms, this resembles Cortez's campaign as much as The Magic Voyage resembles Columbus' first travel. Though, of course, that's not the point.
  • Bare Your Midriff: Chel. Justified since it's local attire.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Tzekel-Kan and Hernan Cortez until the former meets the latter and becomes subservient to him.
  • Big Fun: Chief Tannabok.
  • Big Damn Heroes: When it seems like Tulio and Chel's ship won't make it past the falling pillar, Miguel rides Altivo towards the ship to give him the impulse he needs to jump and pull the sail down so the ship can go faster and avoid certain death.
  • Big Word Shout: Tulio yells "STOP!" apparently stopping a volcano from erupting.
  • Blood Magic: Tzekel-Kan seems to power his magic with human sacrifice.
  • Brief Accent Imitation: Tulio briefly imitates Miguel's British accent at the end.
    Tulio: You had to be all 'Oh, look at me, look at me, I'm a god.'
  • Buffy Speak: Miguel, when trying to explain why the boat is unacceptable.
    Miguel: I have been around boats, believe me. And that, um... pointy tall... the-the-the long up and- up and down thing...
    Chief: The mast?
    • Also when trying to get Altivo to find them a pry-bar.
    Miguel: All you have to do is find a pry-bar! A long piece of iron with a hooky-thing at the end!
  • Cheaters Never Prosper: Both inverted and played straight. Miguel and Tulio do get into serious trouble for using loaded dice, but, on the other hand, if they hadn't cheated they wouldn't have gotten to El Dorado in the first place. Later on, cheating at the ball game saved their bacon. Then again, it only delayed things since it directly led to the Big Bad coming after them.
  • The Chew Toy: Tulio, though mostly during the "Trail We Blaze" sequence.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Cortez goes into a detailed explanation of exactly how Miguel and Tulio will be punished, culminating in their being sold into slavery when they arrive in Cuba. Miguel's response?
    Miguel: All right! Cuba!
  • Con Man: Both of the protagonists.
  • Conspicuous CGI: I hear CGI Gold is the best kind of gold.
    • Justified Trope: They wrote special animation software to make the gold look "gold" rather than merely "yellow".
    • The barrels the duo hide in are also CGI.
  • Contrived Coincidence: The guy the duo gambles against happens to have a map to El Dorado just as the Spanish Fleet is leaving for South America, the duo happen to wash up right on its shores after days adrift at sea, and a volcanic eruption happens (and cancels itself) just as the duo are asked for proof of their divinity.
  • Convection Schmonvection
  • Cue the Rain: When Miguel and Tulio are adrift at sea with no food or water.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Tulio, Miguel, and Chel. Well, it is a film about the sidekicks instead of the heroes...
  • Death Glare:
    • Tulio gives several of these to Miguel for digging them deeper into trouble.
    • Miguel himself gives a truly awesome one after his Shut Up, Hannibal! speech.
    • Cortez, too, is good at these.
  • Disney Acid Sequence: The "It's Tough to Be a God" party sequence. Also a Mushroom Samba and Drunken Montage.
    • To be fair, it doesn't really get that acidy until near the end, where it's implied that they'd had a LOT to drink and smoke, and the wine/alcohol they'd been drinking was probably fairly strong, given that Tulio looks gobsmacked when he first takes a drink and Miguel spits it out.
  • Disneyesque
    • Sort of. On the one hand, the animators clearly follow the rules of the Disney School of Acting and Mime, but everything else resembles Dreamworks' then-in-house design.
  • Disney Villain Death: Averted. See "Karmic Death" below.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Chel goes barefoot throughout the film.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • The scene where Tzekel-Kan completes the potion that summons the huge jaguar stone-beast-thing. Orgasm much?
    • Speaking of orgasm face, Tulio really gets into that massage he gives Chel.
  • Double Edged Answer: Tulio and Miguel manage to sneak off Cortez's ship with enough food to get back to Spain, with the unexpected event of Altivo jumping off the ship in chase of an apple. After saving themselves, the horse, and the boat, Altivo eats all of their food within seconds.
    Tulio: Did any of the provisions make it?
    Miguel: (Looks and sees Altivo eating) Well, yes and no...
  • Ear Worm: The opening theme. It even appears to be one in-universe, since Chel hums it casually while blackmailing Tulio and Miguel.
  • Easter Egg: When Tzekel-Kan is flicking through his codex, one of the pictures is a boy fishing from a moon.
  • Eternal English: Played completely straight. Everybody - even the people of El Dorado - speaks English (though, being generous, it could be eternal Spanish).
    • Gets confusing when Chel needs to translate certain words for Tulio and Miguel, like the word for "spirit world".
  • Everybody Knew Already: The Chief knew that Tulio and Miguel weren't gods.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Tzekel-Kan
  • Fanservice: Equal opportunity fanservice, no less. In addition to Chel's many lovely assets, there are plenty of scenes that show off the very nice bodies of the protagonists, including a changing scene bordering on Male Frontal Nudity.
    • They even lampshade it, with Tulio asking Chel (who is watching them change) "Do you mind?" She responds "No", and bites her lip. There's more than one gif that has superimposed the Tumblr logo over her face.
  • Femme Fatale: Chel.
  • Feud Episode: Tulio and Miguel nearly split up over Tulio's relationship with Chel.
  • Flynning: Justified when Tulio and Miguel do it deliberately during a (mostly) slice and dice rapier swordfight with each other, then reveal it's all an act to avoid being arrested.
    Tulio: Ladies and gentlemen, we've decided it's a draw!
    Miguel: Thank you all for coming! You've been great, see you soon!
    Tulio: Adios!
    • The way it's staged suggests that they've done it before, and considering the film being set in the early 1500s (and the rapier being a civilian weapon) it's likely that both are in reality adequate fencers.
  • From Bad to Worse: Lampshaded when the two of them (and the horse) are stranded on the rowboat in the Atlantic:
    Miguel: Look on the positive side. At least things can't get—
    Massive thunderstorm starts
    Tulio: Excuse me. Were you going to say "worse"?
    Miguel: Absolutely not. I've revised that whole thing.
    Scene ends with a pan out showing sharks approaching.
  • Funny Background Event: Miguel playing his mandolin during the gambling scenes.
    • Hee hee
    • When they first enter the city, Altivo mouths "El Dorado!" along with Tulio and Miguel.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Lots.
    • When Chel seduces Tulio.
    Chel: (alarmed) The High Priest?! What's he going to think when if he finds one of the gods like this with me?!
    Tulio: (dazed) Uh... lucky god?
    • "HOLY... SHIP!"
    • SO MANY lines and moments - but when Tulio starts talking about "Ascending Horizontally," even Miguel gets in on the joke.
    • There's a surprisingly easy-to-miss one right at the beginning: During the opening song, a pair of armadillos meet, sniff each other's noses, and disappear into a bush. The bush shakes around a bit and a moment later the two armadillos pop out again... followed by a bunch of babies.
    • It could just be an animation slip-up, but much has been made of the fact that when Tulio and Chel's makeout session is interrupted, her head is nowhere near his lips. And it doesn't help that she's clearly straddling him as we see her move her leg to get off of him.
      • And then there's Chel moaning when Tulio massages her shoulders, before he says, "Oh yeah."
    • Right before the natives address them when they first arrive, Miguel apologizes to Tulio about a past girl. Tulio's mouth clearly starts to form the F-word right before Tzekel-Kan interrupts.
    • During the "Trail We Blaze" section Miguel and Tulio are both shown stripping down before jumping into the hot springs.
    • At one point during "It's Tough to Be a God", Miguel sings, "So let's be gods; the perks are great!" He and Tulio promptly fall to the ground, surrounded by women.
  • God Guise: The basis of most of the plot. C'mon, it's a Mayincatec classic.
  • God Test: The Doradans challenge the explorers to a ballgame... two gods against 15 mortals.
  • Gold Fever
  • Gone Swimming, Clothes Stolen: By monkeys! With fleas!
  • Gratuitous Spanish
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Miguel fits almost every aspect of the male version.
  • Hammerspace
    Tulio: How did you get those?
    Miguel: Where was she keeping them?
    • Played straight when Tzekel-Kan stows his codex under his tunic.
  • Hard Head: In attempting to figure out an escape plan, Tulio bangs his head on a wooden plank so often over a period of (we assume) months it leaves a worn, rounded dent in the shape of his forehead.
  • Hartman Hips: Chel, almost to the point of parody. Her waist was, tops, twenty inches and her breasts were rather large, considering. Waltz on down below the waist and her hips are at least as wide as her shoulders.
  • Headdesk: Tulio is banging his head against a wall to try to figure out a way to escape from Cortez's ship. He appears to get an idea... but just resumes banging.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Miguel and Tulio.
  • Human Sacrifice: Threatened often, performed only once. "It just needs a little more... body.." Doubles as a Kick the Dog moment.
  • Humans Are Bastards: Tzekel-Kan's philosophy is steeped in this: that humans deserve to be sacrificed to the gods because humans are unworthy.
  • I Choose to Stay: Subverted.
  • Idiot Hair: Both Miguel and Tulio have it, though less pronounced.
  • Idiot Hero: Miguel and Tulio.
  • Ignored Enemy: Used twice.
  • I'm Okay: Used when a guard encounters the Jaguars foot. Then he gets stomped:
    Guard: I'm still okay!
  • Incoming Ham: "BEHOLD! As the prophesies foretold! The time! Of judgement! IS NOW!!!"
  • Intellectual Animal: Altivo.
  • In The Local Tongue: Provides the page quote.
    Tulio: Apparently, El Dorado is native for great... big... ROCK!!!
  • It Has Been an Honor: Tulio and Miguel in the rowboat, where they think that they will soon die.
    Tulio: If it's any consolation, Miguel... you... made my life... an adventure! (sobs)
    Miguel: And if it's any consolation, Tulio... you... made my life... rich!
    Altivo: (rolls eyes)
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Both protagonists. Though Tulio is more of a jerk than Miguel, they both end up saving the city from Cortez and Tzekel-Kan.
  • Just a Stupid Accent: Everyone speaks English, period. The Spaniards sound like native-born Americans/Brits, most everyone else speaks with a Central American accent, and Tzekel-Kan has a dialect all his own.
  • Karma Houdini: Hernan Cortez. A foregone conclusion, sadly.
  • Karmic Death: Averted. It looks like Tzekel-Kan suffers a Disney Villain Death at one point, but it turns out he survived. Only to suffer a Fate Worse Than Death at the end, if Spanish slavery is anything to go by.
  • Keet: Miguel is toeing the line here.
  • Kick the Dog: Tzekel-Kan sacrifices his loyal but not-too-bright right hand man to fuel a spell.
  • Knight Templar: Tzekel-Kan wants to purge the city of, what he believes, the wicked and unrighteous citizens of El Dorado.
  • Large Ham: Tzekel-Kan.
    • Miguel and Tulio as well, not that surprising since the former is voiced by a Shakespearean actor and the latter's voiced by the guy who was the lead in the 1983 version of The Pirates of Penzance.
  • Last-Second Word Swap:
    • "Holy... Ship!"
    • Tulio: "...free from any tempta— uh, distractions..."
  • Latin Land: The legend of El Dorado does not come from Central America; just ask a Colombian.
  • Lean and Mean: Tzekel-Kan.
  • Left the Background Music On: Miguel provides his own soundtrack at numerous points in the film.
  • Lighter and Fluffier: The plot of the movie is based on Rudyard Kipling's "The Man Who Would Be King," which was made into a live action movie with Sean Connery and Michael Caine. The original story and the live adaptation are significantly darker.
  • Little Miss Con Artist: Chel's sexier than usual version of this trope.
  • Living Statue: Using powerful magic, Tzkel-Kan brings to life a giant jaguar statue and controls it as a Marionette Master.
  • Loads and Loads of Roles: This film gives you your money's worth of Jim Cummings.
  • Loud Gulp: When Miguel and Tulio have to play a ball game they've never played before against fifteen of the best players in the city, and are expected to win since they are gods.
  • Lovable Rogue: Miguel is the closest, stealing and lying most of the time but never being malicious about it, and he outright defends strangers without asking for anything in return. Tulio and Chel are both more self-serving but come through in the end.
  • Marked Change: Tzekel-Kan gains Tron Lines on his body when he takes control of the stone jaguar.
  • Match Cut: Numerous, usually involving something symbolic matched instantly with real version.
  • Mayincatec: The native culture is sort of a blend of all the typical Hollywood Aztec/Mayan/Incan traits.
  • Meaningful Echo: "To err is human, to forgive Divine." First used as a means of appeasing Tzekel-Kan when they dismiss his "tribute". Later, said back to Miguel by the Chief, all but saying out loud he knows Miguel isn't a god but doesn't care.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Altivo is Spanish for "arrogant".
    • And Miguel means "Who is like God?".
    • Tulio means "That who leads".
    • Cortez is Cortés in Spanish, which means "polite".
      • Although it should be pointed out that the name of Hernán Cortés having any meaningful symbolism in the story is a coincidence as it's, you know, his real name and all.
  • Mighty Whitey: Averted. From climbing temple stairs to the local sports, Miguel and Tulio are comically out of the natives' league. They can only get anywhere through cheating and duplicity.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Chel.
  • My Grandma Can Do Better Than You: Variant:
    Miguel: You fight like my sister!
    Tulio: I fought your sister; that's a compliment!
  • Non Human Side Kick: Altivo the warhorse, and the armadillo to a lesser extent.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • Mentioned by Miguel when he thinks he and Tulio are going to die.
    Miguel: Tulio, I just want you to know, I'm sorry about that girl in Barcelona.
    • Possibly, Chel's reasons for leaving El Dorado, which are never clarified, but her facial expression is more than a little suspicious in that instance.
    Chel: You've got your reasons... and I've got mine.
    • In the junior novelization and storybooks, Tzekel-Kan was about to sacrifice her before the chief stopped him. This scene was the original opening to the movie before it was cut.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: For a Spaniard, Miguel sounds awfully... British. And, come to that, Tulio sounds awfully... American.
  • Not in the Face!: Tulio while Flynning.
    Tulio: (whispers) Not the face, not the face...
  • Not So Great Escape: Takes on a pronounced zig zag through the beginning of the film: Miguel and Tulio avoid arrest through impressive Flynning only to fall into a bull pen. They make a dramatic exit with the bull mowing down some of their pursuers, jumping off of a high wall into open barrels full of water to elude the others. They pull the lids over themselves, only to be hoisted aboard a ship bound for the New World and have a large, heavy chest piled on top to keep them from getting out. At sea, the chest is removed, they emerge dramatically in full view of the crew, and are promptly locked in irons for an involuntary audience with Cortez. They are thrown in the brig as stowaways and presumably flogged, eventually sneaking out in the dead of night with the help of Altivo's fetching skills. After another dramatic escape when Altivo jumps overboard, all three wind up at sea in a rowboat, dying of starvation and thirst. Fortunately, they miraculously beach themselves a stone's throw away from a landmark in their map to El Dorado.
  • Nubile Savage: Chel.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Around the middle of the movie, Chief Tannabok hints that he already suspected that Miguel and Tulio weren't gods. He probably chooses not to divulge this because the "gods"' presence weakened the high priest's power and put a stop to the human sacrifices, which he was clearly against. The fact they were pretty fun anyway probably helped.
  • Ocean Madness: Referenced after Miguel, Tulio, and their horse Altivo have been floating for God-knows how long and then suddenly wash ashore:
    Miguel: And it is! It really is the map to El Dorado! *he pants with excitement*
    Tulio: ...you drank the seawater, didn't you?
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: Well, ominous chanting, anyway...
  • Perma Stubble: Tulio.
  • Planning with Props: When Tulio tries to formulate a plan for their boat of gold and the pillars that lead to El Dorado, he uses a stack of earrings to represent the pillars and a pendant for the boat. The armadillo spills water over the whole scene, inspiring Tulio to decide to crash the boat into the pillars
  • Pop-Star Composer: Elton John co-wrote and performed all the songs for the movie.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Tulio gets to do four of these:
    "Apparently, El Dorado is native for... "Great. Big. ROCK!!!" (echoes)
    "Get. On. The horse."
    "WHAT. Do you THINK. You're DOING?!?"
    "...On the one hand - Gold! On the other hand (points at mural of an execution) - Painful. Agonizing. FAILURE."
    • Tzekel-Kan gets a much less hammy one.
  • Puppy-Dog Eyes: Miguel uses this on Tulio, who calls it "The Face", to gamble for the map. It is very effective; Tulio just can't say no...for long.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Chief Tannabok, who loves his people in spite of the high minister's bloodthirsty religious fervor and accepts Miguel and Tulio even after he figures out on his own that they aren't gods.
  • Record Needle Scratch: Atop their temple, looking over the majestic city below, Miguel is gazing out as Tulio is thinking inside.
    Tulio: We just have to lie low.
    Miguel: (beautiful music swells) But Tulio, this place is amazing! I mean I wonder what's-
    Tulio: NO! (needle scratch) Don't even move!!!
  • Recycled In Space. The Man Who Would Be King. In cartoon form. In South America. With musical numbers.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Miguel and Tulio as well as Tzekel-kan and Chief Tannabok.
    • Color coded for your convenience in both cases.
  • The Renaissance Age of Animation
  • Riding into the Sunset: The movie ends this way, or rather Chel rides off, with Miguel and Tulio running to catch up after they fall off Altivo.
  • Rock Bottom:
    Miguel: Tulio, look on the positive side! At least things can't get any-
    (Cue pouring rain and thunder)
    Tulio: Excuse me, were you going to say WORSE?
    Miguel: Nnnno...no.
    Tulio: You're sure?
    Miguel: Absolutely not, I've revised that whole thing.
    Tulio: We're at least in a rowboat.
    Miguel: We're in a rowboat, exactly.
    (Cue Threatening Sharks)
  • Scenery Porn: What'd you expect from the City of Gold? Also present everywhere during the "Trail We Blaze" sequence.
  • Screams Like a Little Girl: Miguel and Tulio - they even provide the page image. But, of course, you'd probably react the same way to a giant green stone jaguar breaking out of a temple. But less so when it's Chel.
    Tulio: Miguel and Tulio!
    Miguel: Tulio and Miguel!
    Both: Mighty and Powerful Gods!
    Chel: Hello!
    Both: *squeal*
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Both Tulio and Miguel prove to care more for people than cold metal. Even if they scammed the whole city with their God Guise, leaving it for Cortez to plunder is beyond them.
  • Sinister Minister: Tzekel-Kan is an evil priest. He's also, to a certain extent, The Grand Vizier. Though the chief is not the typical Horrible Judge of Character who lets the Grand Vizier get away with everything; he clearly distrusts and dislikes Tzekel-Kan, and is glad when the gods start speaking for themselves.
  • Silent Snarker: Chel at times. Also Altivo the eye-rolling horse.
  • The Smart Guy: Tulio.
  • Soft Water: Quite a few scenes, including the scene where Miguel and Tulio get onto the ship.
  • South of the Border
  • Spicy Latina: Chel. Well, she is voiced by Rosie Perez.
  • Spiritual Successor: The film is seen by many fans as a Spiritual Successor to the old Hope and Crosby "Road to ... ..." movies.
    • To The Lion King, at least production-wise. Producer Jeff Katzenberg recruited Elton John to write the songs because they had enjoyed each other's company while making that film.
  • Stout Strength: Tannabok, easily the fattest person in El Dorado, manages to single-handedly slow the topple of a massive stone pillar by pulling on all the guy ropes at once.
  • Stripperiffic: Chel doesn't wear much, though it's downplayed.
  • Tempting Fate: When Tulio and Miguel are stuck on the rowboat with no food.
    Miguel: "Look on the positive side, at least things can't ge-" (immediate thunderstorm)
    Tulio: (angry) "Excuse me, were you going to say 'worse?'"
    Miguel: "Er... no"
    They argue as the camera pulls out to show at least a half dozen sharks following their boat.
  • Those Two Guys: The entire idea behind the film was to take Those Two Guys and make them into main characters instead of putting them in their normal sidekick role.
  • Thwarted Escape: After their impressive display of Flynning to avoid being arrested, Miguel and Tulio drop behind a stone wall, only to find they have fallen into the pen of a huge bull that doesn't seem too happy to see them.
  • Threat Backfire:
    Miguel: That's right, do not question us! Or we shall have to unleash our awesome and terrible power, and you don't want that!
    Tzekel-Kan: Well yes! We do!
    Miguel: ...You do?...
  • Threesome Subtext: Both Tulio and Miguel are incredibly attracted to Chel and Chel herself shows about equal attraction to the both of them, and lets not forget that the main drama of the show comes from Tulio and Miguel's relationship problems.
  • Treasure Map: The map won by Miguel and Tulio.
  • Trickster: Chel, though Miguel and Tulio are not exactly lacking in this department either.
  • Truth in Television: There actually was a real event in the 15th century where a Spanish army (led by Hernan Cortčs) attempted to invade the Aztecs only to be warmly greeted with gifts and gold in the belief that they were gods (scroll down to read).
  • Vagabond Buddies: Miguel and Tulio. Unsurprising, since it's styled after the Trope Codifier.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Tulio and Miguel are each quite critical of the other.
  • Wanted Poster: Miguel and Tulio are first introduced by one to establish that they are criminals.
  • You Fight Like a Cow:
    Miguel: You fight like my sister!
    Tulio: Ah ha! I've fought your sister! That's a compliment!
    Miguel: You fight like my sister!
    Tulio: Ah ha! I've fought your sister, but with my best sword!

Alternative Title(s):

The Road To El Dorado