Dora and the Lost City of Gold is a family-friendly romp through the jungle with all the heart, fun and singing of the original animated TV show.
While Disney is diving into its animated classics library to adapt their beloved stories into live-action, Paramount Players and Nickelodeon Movies went in slightly a different direction by tapping into the animated children's TV show Dora the Explorer. The new live-action movie Dora and the Lost City of Gold adapts the TV show's premise to a point, mixing nostalgic elements of Dora's world with a fresh adventure storyline that will appeal to audiences young and old. Though, to be sure, Dora and the Lost City of Gold is primarily for the younger demographic that the TV series was also aimed at. Dora and the Lost City of Gold is a family-friendly romp through the jungle with all the heart, fun and singing of the original animated TV show.
Dora and the Lost City of Gold follows a 16-year-old Dora (Isabela Moner), who's grown up in the jungle but must now survive in the world of high school with only a little help from her cousin Diego (Jeff Wahlberg). However, Dora would rather be helping her parents (Michael Peña and Eva Longoria) find the lost city of Parapata, which is said to be filled with gold. When Dora, Diego and their two classmates Sammy (Madeleine Madden) and Randy (Nicholas Coombe) are kidnapped by treasure hunters seeking Parapata, the four get roped into the search for the lost city, along with the help of Alejandro (Eugenio Derbez). Though Dora is skilled at tracking and knows the jungle better than anyone, she'll have to learn to work with others if she and her friends are going to find her parents - and the lost city of Parapata.
Dora and the Lost City of Gold was directed by James Bobin (The Muppets, Alice Through the Looking Glass) from a script by Nicholas Stoller (Storks, Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie) and Matthew Robinson (Monster Trucks) based on a story by Stoller and Tom Wheeler (The Lego Ninjago Movie). For their parts, Stoller, Robinson and Wheeler were able to craft a story that falls in line with the educational tone of the original Dora the Explorer, while explaining away the more clunky aspects of the animated show. Here, Dora is an overenthusiastic explorer who pretended to have a TV show as a child, but who still likes to educate others on the jungle and the animals it contains. It all plays into her arc, though, as she must learn an important lesson about teamwork and accepting help when it's needed. Altogether, the writers and Bobin were able to honor the original show without feeling too beholden to it, forging their own path through the jungle.
And leading the film is Moner, whose performance as Dora often walks the line between cartoonish optimism and realistic teenager. But The Lost City of Gold does something compelling with Dora's energetic confidence, contrasting it with the "regular" teenage attitudes of Diego, Sammy and Randy, creating conflict between the four that they must overcome. All four young actors - Moner, Wahlberg, Madden and Coombe - work well together as the core cast to give the movie some heart. The characters don't go too deep, but that's to be expected from a movie crafted with young children in mind. Dora and the Lost City of Gold's adult cast members - Longoria, Peña and Derbez - work to round out the supporting cast and offer their own charm to the film. All in all, it's a solid cast who bring the vision of a live-action Dora to life with plenty of flare.
Ultimately, Dora and the Lost City of Gold is a live-action extension of the animated Dora the Explorer TV show in every sense of the word. The movie is primarily aimed at and for the same audience as the TV series, and embodies the same adventurous, educational spirit of Dora. The Lost City of Gold plays with the more fantastical elements of the animated series in surprising ways, paying homage to its roots while explaining away certain things that don't make sense. However, what the movie chooses to explain and what it just leaves alone doesn't make much sense, so it's probably best not to think too hard on why Boots is now a relatively normal wild monkey but Swiper is still a fully talking, mask-wearing fox. In the end, Dora and the Lost City of Gold is surprisingly effective at keeping what fans love and introducing new elements to offer a fresh experience.
As a result, the film is entertaining for anyone who's seen a fair share of Dora the Explorer, though it's perhaps best enjoyed by those who are the show's target audience (that is to say: young children and their parents). Dora and the Lost City of Gold was very obviously crafted with young audiences in mind. While the lack of real stakes and overly obvious character growth may grate on older audiences, kids will be laughing along at the fart jokes and enjoying the storylines of friendship and adventure. Still, there's plenty of all-ages humor to keep parents entertained as well. Altogether, Dora and the Lost City of Gold is a delightfully fun time for the whole family at the theater.
Dora and the Lost City of Gold is now playing in U.S. theaters. It is 102 minutes long and is rated PG for action and some impolite humor.
- Dora and the Lost City of Gold (2019) release date: Aug 09, 2019