Dora and the Lost City of Gold

PARAMOUNT PICTURES (2019)

 

Director: James Bobin

 

Starring: Isabela Moner, Eugenio Derbez, Michael Peña, Eva Longoria, Danny Trejo

Grab your backpacks everybody!

 

It seems to have taken an awful long time, but Nickelodeon’s smash hit TV show Dora the Explorer has finally navigated its way to the big screen in Dora and the Lost City of Gold. The happy-go-lucky mini Indiana Jones and her famous backpack find themselves in high school - the most dangerous jungle of them all – before Dora is whisked back to the jungle to rescue her parents and uncover a mythical Incan civilization. Going to need Boots the Monkey’s assistance for that one!

Yes, Dora (Moner) goes from the Peruvian rainforest to an LA high school and back to the jungles all in very quick succession as the story twists and turns itself in order to make this works. Twists and turns roughly translates into contrives. That said, the aim of the game here is just simply to have fun – it’s a Dora the Explorer movie. The target audience is clearly young fans of the show up to pre-teens, however, the movie itself strives to be accessible to all in a goofy way – from Moner’s committed, energised lead role, Peña and Longoria’s caring performances as the parents and the oddbod crew that Dora finds herself on her adventure with – Wahlberg plays Dora’s cousin Diego, Madden is the bossy school queen Sammy and Coombe is the socially awkward Randy – there’s something for everybody here in the characters. CGI monkey Boots is the scene-stealer for the majority of the runtime, mind. The tone of the movie itself is a solid PG version of Tomb Raider, Indiana Jones with a hint of Jumanji too – adventurous without any REAL peril, of course. The action is mild and the humour is juvenile for the majority of the time, but you might just find yourself chuckling at some of the gags. It follows a fairly rigid structure of “jungle puzzle” after “jungle puzzle” (as the movie calls them) until the finale which lends a formulaic feeling to the narrative, but the youngsters will have a good time and the oldies will see what’s coming from a mile off.

 

Dora takes elements of the animated series and incorporates them nicely here, the movie opens with the classic Dora theme, there are some tongue-in-cheek fourth wall breaking and even a full-on animated scene but nothing feels too forced. Of course, the underlying message remains and is pertinent throughout, the message of being yourself no matter what anyone says permeates Dora’s every movie, action, and phrase pretty much and it isn’t a bad message for the youngsters to take on board (unless you’re an idiot, don’t be an idiot). The movie also joyfully celebrates a resilient, self-confident girl with a heart of gold, resourceful mind and intrepid spirit – everything is done in good spirits and, honestly, it’s refreshing to watch a movie like this. That said, narratively the movie falls fairly flat and it’s not the most…exciting of affairs. As mentioned, everything feels familiar and you’ll find yourself anticipating everything – including, of course, the conclusion.

 

Will fans of the show find enjoyment in the big-screen adaptation of their Latina hero? I can’t say this as I don’t have my finger on the pulse of Dora fandom, but Dora and the Lost City of Gold will appeal to kids after some fun adventure and even the parents may find themselves not entirely disappointed by the end of the flick. It’s formulaic, it’s firmly rooted in its PG surroundings but, happily, it isn’t all that bad. It’s good, clean fun.

September 3rd 2019

© 2016 Matt Hudson / What I Watched Tonight / Essex

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