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Western Animation / Tad, the Lost Explorer

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Tad, the Lost Explorer (original title: Las Aventuras de Tadeo Jones) is a Spanish animated adventure comedy film released in 2012.

It tells the story of Tad Stones: a construction worker and archeology enthusiast who wants to be an Adventurer Archaeologist just like his idol Max Mordon. His friend, Professor Humbert in summoned to Peru to meet with another researcher, Professor Lavrof, who has discovered what might be the key to the location of the lost city of Paititi, where the Incans have hidden their golden treasure. Furthermore, the city is believed to contain a golden statue that makes those who hold it immortal, created so that the Incan guardians could defend their treasure forever. However, Humbert suffers an unexpected (but harmless) accident and Tad has to go in his place. Unfortunately, a gang of pirates and mercenaries called the Odysseus is after the artifact too, and Tad arrives to find that Lavrof has been kidnapped. Joined by Lavrof's daughter Sara and their Soap Opera-obsessed enthusiastic salesman employee Freddy; they now have to go on a wild journey to find the treasure before the Odysseus, rescue the professor, and hopefully come out alive.


Created by the film's director Enrique Gato, the character of Tadeo Jones (Tad Stones) had previously appeared in two animated short films, as well as a few comics drawn by renowned Spanish cartoonist Juan López Fernández, a.k.a. "Jan". A sequel, Tad the Lost Explorer: The Secret of King Midas (original title Tadeo Jones 2: El secreto del rey Midasnote ) was released in the summer of 2017.

A third film, Tad the Lost Explorer: The Curse of the Mummy (original title Tadeo Jones 3: La maldición de la momianote ) has been announced to be released in the summer of 2022 this.

Visit the official website (in Spanish).


Tad, the Lost Explorer provides examples of:

  • Adventurer Archaeologist: Tad dreams of being one, but the movie actually does a good job of deconstructing this. There's nothing particularly glamorous about Professor Lavrof or Humbert, and both of them thoroughly disapprove of Max Mordon.
  • Ancient Astronauts: Subtly implied as a plasma pistol and an image of an alien appear as a Freeze-Frame Bonus in the Mummy's temple.
  • Artificial Limb: Kopponen's robotic arm.
  • Artistic License – Gun Safety: Freddy briefly points a gun at his own face at one moment.
  • Artistic License – Medicine: Very much averted: after Humbert swallows too many sleeping pills, the nurse mentions that he will be alright, but will have to undergo a gastric lavage, which is exactly what would happen in real life.
  • Artistic License – Physics: A small parrot like Belzoni couldn't drag an entire hot-air balloon against the wind. And if he's flying along with the wind, how is he being useful at all?
  • Award-Bait Song:
  • Bat Scare: And the bats show up again later, led by Belzoni against the bad guys.
  • Bittersweet Ending: In the first movie, Tad and company escape death thanks to the Mummy breaking the rules so they can continue with their normal lives. Then in the sequel we learn that for this act of compassion, the Mummy was banished by his own people from Paititi, his home for 500 years, having to wander without knowing anyone and anything about modern Peru for a long time.
    • Happens again in the credits of the sequel, as it shows that the Mummy returns to Paititi, only to be imprisoned in a dark dungeon by the guards for breaking his banishment.
  • Blatant Lies: The room starts crumbling, Freddy insists "I didn't touch anything!" Even though he's holding the huge bronze artifact that he pried from the wall (which started the room crumbling).
  • Blessed with Suck: The statue makes those who hold it immortal... by turning them into mummies!
  • Bull Seeing Red: Parodied in a scene in which Freddy handles Tad a pink cape so he could "bullfight" a cougar.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The seemingly useless tool that Freddy sells to Tad in their first encounter. Minor cases with Tad's plumb-bob and the cufflink that belonged to his father.
  • Cool Airship: The hamburger-shaped hot air balloon, is even equipped with a grill for making hamburgers.
  • Convection Schmonvection: It seems to be this way in one of the first scenes, but it turns out to be a dream.
  • Cool Car: Tad's Isetta.
  • Dance Party Ending: The sequel ends this way.
  • Daydream Surprise: When we first meet Tad as a child, he's fantasizing an Indiana Jones-esque adventure. When we first meet him as an adult... he's doing exactly the same.
  • Disney Death: Sara in the sequel where she is "frozen" golden as the rocks are collapsing. Tad tearfully tells her that he loves her.
  • Disney Villain Death: Kopponen.
    • In the sequel, a number of Jack Rackham's Mooks also have this.
  • Everything's Better with Llamas: Our heroes ride these on the way to Machu Picchu.
  • Extreme Omnivore: Tad's dog Jeff. He even swallows a small Tracking Device and sickly vomits it hours later. Funny thing is: the device was in the car, so the villains would have a much harder time tracking them when they escaped in the llamas if it wasn't for Jeff swallowing it.
  • Fake Charity: A recurring gag involves Freddy claiming that he needs lots of money to raise his numerous children. He then shows a picture of several children with his own picture crudely glued to make it look like he's in the photo too. Except that in the third time he got the wrong photo and it showed him next to an attractive woman who he claimed was his cousin.
  • Fake Ultimate Hero: Max Mordon.
  • Foreshadowing: Tad gets frightened by a mummy in a billboard as a child, and later by mummy statues in the museum, both incidents foreshadowing his meeting with the actual mummy.
  • George Jetson Job Security: Tad gets fired because his dog urinates on the boss. A colleague comments that Tad has been fired seven times just this year. Tad doesn't even worry because he'll soon become a famous archaeologist.
  • Hammerspace: Freddy and Belzoni frequently pull objects from it.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Tad immediately falls in love with Sara.
  • Hired Guns: The agents of Odysseus Corporation are mercenaries and smugglers of ancient artifacts, with an elaborate organization rich enough to have access to helicopters, heavy excavation equipment and everything.
  • I Want Them Alive!: The Corporation needs Lavrof alive to translate the ruins for them, since he and Humbert are the only men in the world who can do so. They also need Sara as hostage to force Lavrof to collaborate. Tad and Freddy, on the other hand, are written off as disposable, and despite Kopponen insisting that they are harmless and should be spared, Mordon orders their execution anyway.
  • Immortality Inducer: The Incan statue.
  • Immortality Seeker: The Odysseus Corporation and Max Mordon.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: The Odysseus agents.
  • Indy Escape: The Mummy attempts to kill the intruders by releasing a large rolling boulder on them.
  • Landmark of Lore: Paititi. Also briefly featured are Machu Picchu and the Nazca Lines, although neither has much importance to the plot.
  • Liar Revealed: Tad and Max Mordon reveal each other's lies to Sara at the same time. Specifically: that Tad is not an archaeologist, just a mason; and Mordon is the one who hired Odysseus and is working with them.
  • Long Title: In-universe - Freddy owns a copy of the book 101 Ways to Avoid Dying a Horrible, Miserable, Excruciating, Painful Death. It proves itself quite useless when he accidentally activates a trap in the temple.
  • Mini-Mecha: The Mummy controls one near the end. A small(-ish) mecha for all practical purposes; only made of stone and controlled by blue crystals.
  • A Minor Kidroduction: The first scene shows Tad as a child.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: A Hollywood Chameleon in the South American jungles. Native to the old world, some chameleons are known to have become introduced species in North America, but not in Peru (yet).
  • Mummy: Guarding the temple. Interestingly, he turns out to be a good guy and comes as a bit of an eccentric.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: Jeff, a dog, and Belzoni, a parrot.
  • Parental Neglect: Professor Lavrof is a kind fellow, but very workaholic and has so little contact with his family that his daughter calls him "professor" rather than "dad".
  • Polly Wants a Microphone: A funny subversion - Belzoni, the parrot, has human level intelligence, is able to play poker, do mimic and communicate with signs... but he's mute.
  • Raised by Grandparents: Tad, raised by his grandmother.
  • Refuge in Audacity: As Sara explains to Tad, they can't call the police because the case sounds too absurd to be taken seriously.
  • Same Language Dub: The Mexican Spanish dub.
  • Sexiness Score: In The Secret of King Midas, Mummy disparages Tad's chances with Sara by pointing out she's a 10 while Tad's a 2.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In the original Spanish, the name of our protagonist is Tadeo Jones. His hat also resembles Indiana's and, according to Humbert, belonged to a famous archaeologist.
    • Another one occurs in the Mummy's temple where the mechanisms to activate traps each have a distinct image (arrows, axe, boulder, etc.) and one of the images seems to be a representation of the game Pac-Man.
    • Sara's outfit resembles that of Lara Croft. Her full name, Sara Lavrof, also sounds similar.
  • Something Else Also Rises: Tad when He first meet Sara.
  • Snake Oil Salesman: Freddy spends the entire movie trying to sell useless stuff to everyone around him (except when he's watching his melodramatic Soap Operas, of course).
  • Speech-Impaired Animal: Belzoni, the mute parrot, is intelligent enough to play poker.
  • Super-Persistent Predator: The cougar chasing Tad.
  • Talking with Signs: Belzoni again.
  • The Glasses Gotta Go: Sara gets rid of them early in the movie, and adopts a... different fashion style to go along.
  • Traintop Battle: And it's not even the climax!
  • Travel Montage: A very brief one showing Tad's trip from Chicago, USA to Cusco, Peru, with a red line on the map and everything.
  • Treasure Room: Paititi, where the Incans guarded all their treasure to prevent it from being taken by the Conquistadors. The guardians of the treasure have used the magic golden idol to become immortals and guard the secret forever. Turns out they're literally living mummies now.
  • The Ugly Guy's Hot Daughter: Professor Lavrof's daughter Sara.
  • Uncle Sam Wants You: Parodied. During Tad's minor kidroduction, it's revealed that his bedroom has a poster with an archaeologist saying "I want you to join the archaeology club."
  • Villainesses Want Heroes: Played for laughs in the sequel with Jack Rackham's Mook Lieutenant, when Tad accidentally kisses her in the climax.