Many years ago my nephew Parker would talk endlessly about Dora the Explorer on Nickelodeon. He would tell me about her jungle adventures with Boots the monkey as well as a talking backpack and a map. As he got older he didn’t talk about Dora obviously, but when I told him that I was invited to see the latest movie, The Lost City of Gold, he told me he was excited to see it and had been thinking about it ever since he heard that it was coming to the theaters. My heart lept to think that my nephew was still a little boy at heart.
So I took my nephew Parker - as well as his goodwill sentiment and enthusiasm into the theater to Nickelodeon’s Dora and The Lost City of Gold. Paramount also had a stake in creating the film of course, but Nickelodeon is one of my favorite entities for content. I am a huge Spongebob Squarepants fan.
I didn’t know what to expect with a cartoon turned into a movie, so I sat back and let myself enjoy the sometimes silly yet adventurous jungle romp with Dora. In as much as there was over the top humor, there were also a lot of heartfelt moments.
Isabela Moner does a great job as Dora, she is adorable, and funny as well as chipper. You truly believe that she is naive to the social difficulties of going to high school, and for this, the movie excels at sharing a real message. Being young is far from easy.
One thing I appreciated was that Nickelodeon seems to know that adults would obviously be taking their kids to this movie and that Dora the Explorer as a cartoon was a bit campy perhaps even corny. But the filmmakers pulled no punches in admitting the fact that some cartoon characters can be extremely overzealous and way too cheerful. They brought it head-on and didn’t hide from the fact that Dora can be corny. For this, I appreciated the film even more.
An example is a moment Dora looks straight into the camera and talks as if she is addressing an audience full of children. Dora’s parents (played by Eva Longoria and Michael Peña) looked at her oddly as if their daughter had lost her marbles. This type of humor kept going throughout the movie and I didn’t mind one bit, it was a lot of fun.
There were a couple of things however that did concern me, in the movie the filmmakers play on the fact that Dora is a little bit different than normal young teenagers her age, thus she would stand dangerously close to crocodiles that would try to snap at her feet and she had a large buck knife in her backpack. She also plays with a poisonous tree frog. It was definitely funny, but I am sure there is a kid out there who might now go try to talk to an alligator by standing at the foot of the riverbank.
So parents may need to explain that crocodiles can run faster than people and would not want to have a conversation, but would much rather eat them -- and having a buck knife in your backpack may not be a good idea.
Dora has to leave the jungle and go to high school where she meets a group of friends from different crowds. Due to extenuating circumstances, they have to make a trip to the jungle in the search for the lost city of gold.
A lot of the high school moments where Dora is way over the top are classic, but also in an odd way make a statement on the complexities of having to live as a teen where social constructs are really brutal.
Throughout the movie, the actors indulge in the fact that they can overemphasize their acting to the point of ridiculousness to drive a point home.
Surprisingly it didn’t get old, it was funny, like really funny. I laughed throughout the film and I was not alone kids and adults were all sitting in agreement at what seem to be carefully calculated comic moments.
The jungle scenes, where they have to solve riddles or figure out ways to get from point A to point B was fantastic and a huge source of enjoyment for me and my nephew. I love this type of thing, and Dora gets a big thumbs up for this aspect of the movie.
The movie has a ton of Indigeneity, with voices and acting appearances by Danny Trejo, Benicio Del Toro, Q'orianka Kilcher and more. Gotta give it up to Nickelodeon for having so many actors with Indigenous backgrounds.
There is a moment in the film that I can’t reveal because I don’t want to reveal a spoiler, But I have to say it was pure magic, based upon a decision Dora makes in order to get to the next step, so to speak.
I am so appreciative of director James Bobin for focusing on this moment. It made the entire movie for me and I just can’t say enough how much I appreciated it.
Go see this film, but make sure to check your kid's backpacks for any questionable items Dora may have influenced them to carry.
DORA AND THE LOST CITY OF GOLD
Opens nationwide on Friday, August 9th
Rated: PG for some action and impolite humor
Runtime: 100 mins
Having spent most of her life exploring the jungle with her parents, nothing could prepare Dora (Isabela Moner) for her most dangerous adventure ever – High School. Always the explorer, Dora quickly finds herself leading Boots (her best friend, a monkey), Diego (Jeff Wahlberg), a mysterious jungle inhabitant (Eugenio Derbez), and a ragtag group of teens on a live-action adventure to save her parents (Eva Longoria, Michael Peña) and solve the impossible mystery behind a lost city of gold.