9 August 2019 | RforFilm
I can't believe I'm recommending Dora and the Lost City of Gold...but it was funny and a had a committed actress as Dora
"Can you find the map behind either of the three bushes?" is one of several things little Dora would ask her viewers on her show Dora the Explorer. I was in middle school when Dora the Explorer made it's debut on Nickelodeon. I was already too old for it, but it was a monster hit for the under seven demographic it was aiming for. From the few episodes I saw, it did it's job well buy keeping kids interacting with the show. But unlike Blues Clues that had very mundane and general mysteries, Dora the Explorer at least tried to add a little more education with zoology and a main character that was Latina. I merely saw it as harmless while Nickelodeon saw it as money.
In the age where reboots and remakes are all the rage, it makes sense Hollywood would want to tap into the nostalgia of Dora before it was too late. When a movie was announced, I kept wondering how that would be done as movies based off a little kid aimed material rarely sells. Just as the people who've made movies off of Sesame Street and Thomas the Tank Engine. But Dora and the Lost City of Gold tries something different; it tries to be funny.
Young teenager Dora (played by Isabela Moner) may be grown up, but still loves exploring the South American jungle with her monkey Boots (played by Danny Trejo), singing songs to herself and keeping an upbeat sprit about her life. After a fall, her parents Cole (played by Michael Peña) and Elena (played by Eva Longoria) decide that she needs to be around kids her own age and send her to Los Angeles to go live with her cousin Diego (played by Jeff Wahlberg).
When going to Diego's high school, she finds her jungle skills and knowledge out of place in a culture of cliques and teenage angst. Nevertheless, she continues to be herself while trying to get back her friendship she used to have with Diego. The both of them are on a fieldtrip when they and two other students get kidnapped by treasure hunters who hope Dora can lead them to her parents who are searching for a lost city of gold. Their sent back to South America, but get away thanks to a fellow explorer Alejandro (played by Eugenio Derbez). Even with an adult, it's up to Dora to lead her friends into the jungle the find her parents and perhaps a lost city of gold.
I can't believe I'm saying this, but I actually liked Dora and the Lost City of Gold. Not only was it genuinely funny, but it kept my interest in a story that seems like a safer version of Goonies. Is it as good as the latter? No, in fact there are moments that are too dumb, but for the most part, this is a movie that knows what it is and wants to be: a silly adventure. There's nothing wrong with being silly.
This is a movie that's made for fans of Dora the Explorer, but it's also for those that made fun of it. It's aware of how annoying the cartoon was for the adults who had to listen to it when their toddlers watched it. A lot of it works thanks to Isabela Moner, who remains as committed as hell to not only making her work as a likable character, but one who can be a literal live-action cartoon.
While I had fun, I know that regular adult are not going to get into this at all if they don't have some nostalgia with the character. What does hurt it is while it tries to evolve Dora and her adventure, it still succumbs to cliché family movie parts like the annoying geek character and bathroom jokes. I understand it's a film that still has to appeal to children, but if movies like Inside Out and Up have shown anything, the story can still be great without having to go for lowbrow humor. A part of me also realizes that if I was around ten, I would have dug this movie and maybe even asked my parents to take me to it again.
I'll give this seven Doras out of ten. Again, even though I liked it and had fun with it's meta jokes, this is not meant for adults unless they have some nostalgia or even at least some interest. It weird to think that the CGI Lion King remake was bad while a live action Dora the Explorer was better then expected. I suppose it's earned the right to sing "We did it"