Dora and the Lost City of Gold
Updated: Feb 9, 2020
Dora the Explorer is an educational cartoon for young kids in which a little girl walks around the jungle with a talking backpack, talking map and talking monkey, while avoiding a sneaky fox. Its goal was to help viewers learn lessons and teach them basic Spanish. Despite its long-lasting popularity, it was definitely not an obvious choice to receive a live-action adaptation. There is nothing cinematic about the show, so the filmmakers decided to update it. Dora has been aged up and put into a kid-friendly Indiana Jones-style plot about the search for a mythical Incan city of gold. The educational aspect and audience participation are left out in favor of action and fart jokes. It pokes light-hearted fun at its source material in a cartoonish adventure/comedy that is as silly as it is fun. As someone who was not at all thrilled at the prospect of sitting through a Dora movie, I was pleasantly surprised. This is an enjoyable diversion.
Dora is a sixteen year-old living in the jungle with her explorer parents. When things get too dangerous, they send her away to California, where she enters the foreign world of high school with her cousin, Diego. On a field trip, they are kidnapped by mercenaries and flown to the jungle. Now, Dora has to save the day and find her parents while keeping everyone alive.
Dora and the Lost City of Gold (98 minutes without the end credits) is so dedicated to being goofy that its familiarity becomes irrelevant. It knows it is unoriginal and truly does not care. It just wants to be a fun popcorn flick families can enjoy together. It fits that description pretty well. Additionally, in Dora, it creates a surprisingly strong heroine. Yeah, she is a total fish out of water who has little in the way of normal social skills. But she is also smart, brave and very nice. Though the movie teases the show’s style and scores some points off of how out of place Dora is, it never implies there is anything wrong with her. She is thoroughly comfortable with who she is. It is the other characters who have to set aside their ideas of what is cool to realize how awesome she is. “Stay true to yourself” is a common message in this kind of story; Dora succeeds by showing instead of spelling it out.
The main things the filmmakers took from the show are Dora’s energy and relentless positivity as well as the animals with human characteristics. In this case, they retained the kleptomaniac fox, Swiper, and Dora’s monkey best friend, Boots. Boots is much more monkey-like here, though he does understand humans perfectly and has great comic timing. Swiper still wanders around in a mask trying to steal things from our hero (letting out his signature “Aw, man!” when he fails). It really leans into being a live-action cartoon, with unrealistic movements and no real sense of trouble, no matter how dangerous things look.
That was the right approach for this material. Dora and the Lost City of Gold is an enjoyably ridiculous family adventure/comedy. There are a few exciting moments, amusing gags and the cast seems to be having a great time. I have no idea how little kids who are still into the show will react to such a different Dora, but kids slightly out of that age range should have fun with it. This movie teaches viewers absolutely nothing, however it is some decent late summer entertainment. 3¼ out of 5
Isabela Moner as Dora
Jeff Wahlberg as Diego
Madeleine Madden as Sammy
Nicholas Coombe as Randy
Eva Longoria as Elena
Michael Peña as Dora’s Father
Eugenio Derbez as Alejandro Gutierrez
Benicio Del Toro as voice of Swiper
Directed by James Bobin
Screenplay by Matthew Robinson and Nicholas Stoller