The Adventures of Tadeo Jones
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  • The Adventures of Tadeo Jones
  • 92 minutes  -  Animation
  • Original title: Las aventuras de Tadeo Jones
  • Director:Enrique Gato
  • Language: Spanish
  • Country: Spain

A construction worker named Tadeo Jones lives in Chicago and dreams of being an archaeologist. He's friends with professor Miguel Humbert, who receives a telegram from a colleague asking him to travel to Peru. When, after suffering an accident, Humbert is unable to go, Tadeo Jones takes advantage of the opportunity.

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REVIEW BY Belén Conde Movie EXPERT
Review posted: 23/08/2013

Las aventuras de Tadeo Jones (The Adventures of Tadeo Jones), released in 2012, has the distinction of being the first big-budget Spanish animated film. It was a costly production, and the amount of advertising space dedicated to it was no less considerable. Which is why it was able to gross 33 million euros worldwide and enjoy a good reception not only Spain but also in Asia and Latin America.

The film depicts the exploits of Tadeo Jones, a young man who works in construction but who has dreamt of being a famous archaeologist since childhood (notice the similarity to Indiana Jones?). When he’s fired by his boss for daydreaming instead of working, Tadeo goes to see his friend, the archaeology professor Miguel Humbert, hoping that the Coca Cola bottle he found at a building site is a relic. It’s not, unfortunately, but something is about to change Tadeo’s destiny: it turns out that Humbert has to go to Cuzco in Peru, since his colleague, professor Lavroz, has made an important discovery regarding the lost Incan city of Paititi. Because of a mix-up with his medication, Humbert cannot go to Peru, so Tadeo, without a second thought, decides to replace him.

"It was able to gross 33 million euros worldwide and enjoy a good reception not only Spain but also in Asia and Latin America."

He arrives to South America with his smart dog Jeff, and there meets Freddy, a meddlesome friend of Lavroz, and his daughter, the beautiful and intrepid archaeologist Sara, with whom Tadeo falls in love. But Sara already has a boyfriend: the arrogant and world-famous Max Mordon, an archaeologist who flaunts his great discoveries and who used to be Tadeo’s idol. But it turns out that Max is not as fantastic as he seemed, since he’s partnered with Kopponen, of the Odysseus group of archaeological pirates, who speaks with an Eastern European accent (parodying the era when Russians were always cast as the bad guys) and plans to procure both parts of the key to the cave of Paititi and find a hidden treasure: the famous “golden Indian” who guards the secret to immortality. Tadeo and Sara decipher the map that leads to this item, but they don’t tell Kopponen, and until the end, Tadeo, Sara, and her dad have to avoid Kopponen and his men until reaching the real secret of the cave, which has been hidden for many centuries and is far more marvelous and unexpected than they thought.

The Adventures of Tadeo Jones was well-received by critics, although the response was rather lukewarm. On the one hand, the film was praised for its visual quality, which was deemed comparable to any American animated production (after all, work on the characters of Tadeo Jones took four years). But, on the other hand, it was said the film would satisfy general audiences but lacked soul. It’s possible that many critics took this movie to be a straight copy of Indiana Jones rather than something different which used Indiana Jones as a starting point to develop new ideas. As for the design of the characters, it’s important to note the influence of the famous Spanish comic strip artist Jan (Juan López Fernández): the protagonists have round noses, similar clothing style, etc. Indeed, long before the movie came out, when the character of Tadeo Jones had only appeared in two short films released in 2006 and 2008, Jan even drew a comic book about him (Tadeo Jones and the Secret of Toactlum, published in 2008); while Enrique Gato, director of both the shorts and the 2012 full-length feature, has admitted that Jan was an inspiration for Tadeo Jones’ look.

"It’s possible that many critics took this movie to be a straight copy of Indiana Jones rather than something different which used Indiana Jones as a starting point to develop new ideas."

Michelle Jenner, an actress known for her role in the hit TV series Los Hombres de Paco (Paco’s Men) did the voice of Sara, while Freddy was performed by the famous Spanish comedian José Mota, who used to be part of the comedy duo Cruz y Raya (Cross and Line) and who already had plenty of experience dubbing animated features (Shrek, Monsters Inc.). Interestingly, in the Catalan version of the film, José Mota was replaced by José Corbacho, who is also a famous comedian in Spain as well as a native of Cataluña. Overall, the Spanish voices are in neutral Castilian, even for those characters who are dressed in typical Peruvian garb and who should therefore have a Peruvian accent. Likewise, all slang used by the characters is entirely Spanish. They use expressions like “ser un crack” (be the best) or “tengo que alimentar a los churumbeles” (I have to feed the children), which is derived from the caló language spoken by the Spanish Romani community. Also, to make fun of Tadeo, Max Mordon calls him a “talerdo” (which in various Spanish-speaking countries means "dumb" or "slow").

The soundtrack deserves special mention. It includes the catchy theme song “Te voy a esperar” (I will wait for you), which mixes electronic and Latin rhythms, and is performed by the Latin singer Belinda and the Spaniard Juan Magan. It dominated the airwaves for some time to promote the movie and was #1 on iTunes and Spotify. As for the film itself, it won several Goyas, the Spanish Oscars: Best Animated Film, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Debuting Director.