Adventure Dora and the Lost City of Gold

Review: ‘Dora the Explorer’ Journeys to the Big Screen in the Fun, Mildly Confused ‘Dora and the Lost City of Gold’

August 7, 2019Sherry Li

Marking the big screen debut for Nickelodeon's Dora the Explorer, Dora and the Lost City of Gold follows Dora, now a teenage explorer, in her first adventure outside the jungle — as she navigates the terrifying new environment of a California high school.

Though the film is based on a children's TV show, there are a few more grown-up themes and a few jokes that are clearly made for a more self-aware, grown-up audience. Isabela Moner, who plays Dora, portrays the character as endearingly socially inept, overly optimistic and an eager do-gooder who has very little real-world knowledge outside of the jungle. After her parents (Eva Longoria and Michael Peña) head on an exploration without her, Dora is sent to live with her aunt and uncle in the city, and very quickly realizes she doesn't quite fit in.

Taking the cartoon character's quirks and traits and throwing her into the real world (where she obviously stands out), director James Bobin plays the situation for some laughs, which work more often than not. Dora's obliviousness is a fun contrast to the other misfit characters, like her cousin Diego (Jeff Wahlberg), who just wants to survive high school, Sammy (Madeleine Madden), who feels threatened by Dora's intelligence and abilities, and Randy (Nicholas Coombe), an awkward loner whom Dora quickly befriends.

The movie itself is a fun watch if you don't take it too seriously. The plot twists can be seen from a mile away, the humor is genuinely quite cheesy, and it's tiring to have one strong female character dislike another simply because they view them as competition, only to have the two slowly become friends anyway. However, there are plenty of feel-good, wholesome moments, a lot of homages to the television show, good lessons for kids to take away, and beautiful visuals, especially when the film's setting switches to the jungle. Some fans make take issue with how Boots and Swiper look as CGI characters, but for the most part the filmmakers certainly do a great job.

Ultimately, however, Dora and the Lost City of Gold feels a little confused about its target audience, as it's a bit too mature for younger fans of the TV show while also coming across as a little juvenile and cheesy for older viewers who find themselves drawn to the adventure aspect of it. Still, it has a few good laughs, good chemistry between its leads, and a story that's easy to follow, making it enjoyable for audiences of any age.

Dora and the Lost City of Gold releases August 9th, 2019 from Paramount Pictures. The film has an MPAA rating of PG for action and some impolite humor. Its runtime is 1 hr. 42 min.

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