Steve Coogan’s little-watched, but genuinely good, 2001 spoof horror anthology series, Dr Terrible’s House of Horrible featured an episode that went by the gloriously clumsy title of Curse of the Blood of the Lizard of Doom. The deliberately wordy title springs to mind when one sits down to watch Tad the Lost Explorer and the Secret of King Midas, a Spanish animated movie that seems to approach storytelling in much the same shonky, amateurish and maladroit fashion as Coogan’s deliberately-rubbish TV show, only totally earnestly.
Apparently a sequel to a 2012 kids movie that obviously made as much impact outside its native Spain as an Antonio Orozco song on a Swedish dancefloor, Tad 2 gives us the variously meandering adventures of an Indiana Jones-type everyman explorer who lucks into a secret treasure that grants the power to turn things into gold.
Unexceptional in just about every sense, it’s hard to imagine this making much of an impact on any audience apart from very young children mesmerised by bright colours and vaguely obnoxious noises. The writing is back-of-a-fag-packet stuff which makes only very half-hearted attempts to generate some easy-going charm in its lead character or any of the thinly realised supporting cast.
The nods to Indiana Jones are obvious in the design and the fact that the hero’s full name is Tadeo Jones in the Spanish language version, but the resemblance is only skin deep. Playing out like an abandoned piece of downloadable content for an Uncharted game that never saw the light of day, Tad 2 ticks off all the requisite adventure boxes: luxurious settings, ancient myths come to life, faceless corporate baddies; but does so with a dragging, mechanical lack of flair, style or ingenuity. There’s always the possibility that something has been lost in translation, but with the standard so consistently high at the likes of Studio Ghibli, the suspicion is otherwise.
The most notable aspect about the whole wearying thing is the grating inclusion of a hideously unfunny mummy character who ranks as one of the most irritating in recent cinema history. Making Chris Tucker’s Ruby Rhod look like absolute model of composure, the constant shrieking inanity of the gurning, burbling and general noise-making that passes for comedy will undoubtedly have you tearing your hair out within thirty-odd minutes, before you presumably move onto sawing your own ears off.
Tad the Lost Explorer and the Secret of King Midas (take a deep breath before you attempt to say that) might find some lease of life as DVD acting as a babysitter to easily impressed toddlers. But with others producing much better quality kids entertainment, Pixar and Laika particularly, it’s hard to muster up much enthusiasm for this.
Dir: David Alonso, Enrique Gato
Scr: Jordi Gasull, Neil Landau, Javier Lopez Barreira, Paco Saez
Starring: Trevor White, Alex Kelly, Gemma Whelan, Joseph Balderrama
Prd: Gabriel Arias-Salgado, Alvaro Augustin, Ghislain Barrios
Music: Zacarias M. de la Riva
Runtime: 85 minutes
Tad the Lost Explorer and the Secret of King Midas is available on DVD and Download now.