The first decade of this millennium is often heralded as some sort of golden age for children’s films. Sure, most of Pixar’s best flicks came out in this period, and there were some winners in general, but I think people tend to view the films of their own childhood with rose-colored glasses. Most of these films are goddamn godawful. Just HOW goddamn godawful, you ask? Let’s find out together by checking out EVERY kids film between 2000 and 2009. From theatrical to direct-to-DVD to Disney Channel Original, we’ll look at ’em all because I am a glutton for punishment.
This week, a decent movie and a really good movie.
THE ROAD TO EL DORADO
Soooooo, I kinda loved the shit outta this movie. Especially after last week’s slog, this one was a breath of fresh air that made me so gosh darn happy to watch. It’s a Dreamworks movie, from before they dipped their toes into CG animation. And I like it a lot.
The movie follows Tulio and Miguel, two lovable rogues looking for an easy score. The duo play off each other incredibly well, and are portrayed as criminals who you still like despite their moral ambiguity. I’ve always been drawn to stories like that, both in terms of what I read and what I watch. Lovable douchebags make great characters. The duo wind up accidentally finding their way to El Dorado, the city of gold, where they are worshipped as gods.
Oh, by the way, Miguel is played by Thor director Kenneth Branagh who does a great job! At this point the duo meet Chel, a local girl who wants in on the con. The three (plus a super smart horse and an armadillo sometimes) run the razor-thin line between mountains of gold and violent death.
Our villain is the high priest of the city who pulls the usual “evil magic brouhaha” thing we’re all used to, but love anyway. Although I will say if I personally was gonna pick a villain, I would have preferred Jim Cummings’s Cortez, who is legit terrifying. But then, I think Jim Cummings should play most villains, so that might be on me.
The visual design of this movie is wonderful. Mayan influence set design and widely expressive characters create an incredibly charming and energetic movie complete with facial expressions that make me smile even out of context.
Also, the soundtrack and score are wonderful. I’ve said a bunch that I love musicals and this one, while it doesn’t have too many songs, the ones it has are fun and earworm-y. Seriously, this is one of the few films I’ve had to review that I liked. Give it a watch, it’s worth it.
RUGRATS IN PARIS: THE MOVIE
This movie is… like, ok? It’s not as good as Road to El Dorado but it also isn’t bad. it’s just a decent enough film that I totally watched all the time as a kid. It was weird how much of this film suddenly came back to me as I was sitting through it.
The film is the second Rugrats film and focuses more on Chuckie as the protagonist. We open on a Godfather parody because kids’ll totally maybe get that joke eventually. From there we set up our arc as Chuckie is sad because, unlike the rest of the Rugrats, he lacks a mother. This bit is obviously there to yank at the heartstrings and it’s a little manipulative but it gets the point across. I should be sad, therefore I am. Movie moves along.
Stu gets a call from Euroreptarland, where a giant mechanical Reptar used for a stage show is malfunctioning. He flies out to Paris alongside all the other main characters because we have to have a movie somehow.
Once there, they meet Kira, the park’s technical director, and CoCo LaBouche, who runs the park day-to-day. CoCo discovers that she could potentially be up for a promotion, but only if she can come across as a loving member of a family. Seeing Chaz and Chuckie Finster as a way to that goal, CoCo decides to manipulate Chaz into marrying her. Angelica agrees to help for personal gain.
The movie itself is kinda weird. Although it takes place in Paris, the setting of a Japanese themed theme park heavily influences the visual aesthetic of the movie. Plus, the movie throws in Chinese imagery because Chinese? Japanese? Same difference as far as movies go!
So the babies uncover the plot and pilot a giant robot dinosaur to stop it. With ZERO casualties.
YA SEE THAT ZACK SNYDER?
Ahem. Anyhoo, CoCo’s plan falls through and Chaz and Kira get together happily ever after movie over.
So yeah, it was decent. Watch it if you really want to appease your nostalgia, but I wouldn’t recommend it otherwise.
So that’s it for the week. Next week, my life is gonna fucking suck. Spoiler alert.