HOLA! D-d-d-d-d don’t be afraid. This adaptation of the beloved children’s cartoon Dora The Explorer is actually quite, well, aDorable.
The film even starts off with a recreation of the TV show’s opening sequence, after which we go on to see a six-year-old Dora parting with her best friend Diego, who is moving to the city. Fast forward 10 years, and a teenage Dora (Isabela Moner) is also sent to the city to live, while her parents (played by Michael Pena and Eva Longoria) head deeper into the jungle to search for Parapata, a lost Incan city of gold.
In the city, she is reunited with a taller and skinnier Diego (now played by Jeff Wahlberg, nephew of Mark and Donnie Wahlberg), who tries his best to help Dora navigate the life and death scenarios of high school life.
After spending a mercilessly short time watching Dora get used to high school, we see her get kidnapped and whisked back to the jungle along with Diego, the self-style school “queen” Sammy (Madeleine Madden) and science geek Randy (Nicholas Coombe), where a group of gold-hunting mercenaries force her to track her parents, who have apparently found Parapata.
As far as live-action adaptations of children’s movies go, Dora & The Lost City Of Gold is actually pretty fun, staying true to the cheerful, positive nature of the cartoon almost the entire way.
There are nods to the original series throughout the film, from the weird acceptance of a talking, swiping fox named Swiper (voiced by Benicio Del Toro, no less), to the constant quoting of fun jungle facts (did you know a monkey can lift three times its weight?) and Dora’s tendency to break the fourth wall, and last but not least, a spore-induced sequence so unexpected it’ll have you laughing out loud.
Sure, it features a 16-year-old Dora instead of the usual six-year-old, but Moner absolutely nails the part. In fact, she is exactly what you would think a 16-year-old version of the cartoon character would be like – radiating charm and sunny effervescence in such a joyous and natural way that you just can’t help but like her.
It’s a slight pity that Moner aside, the rest of the characters feel like they were picked up from the Nickelodeon characters recycled bin. There’s the embarrassingly cringe-worthy parents (though Pena and Longoria do a good job of dialling down the cheese), the cookie-cutter high school stereotypes, and the one-dimensional, greedy bad guys.
Heck, the animated swiping fox manages to swipe the scene every time he comes on, and so does Boots the Blue Monkey (who gets a surreal talking scene you have to see to believe).
This being a Nickelodeon movie, you pretty much know what to expect for the most part, from fart jokes to the cloying slapstick antics the adults have to endure. But for the most part, this is a pretty fun movie that kids (and maybe parents who have had to endure hours upon hours of repeating the cartoon) would probably enjoy.
So, did they actually make a decent adaptation of Dora The Explorer? Yes, They did it, they did it, they did it, they did it …Yeah!
Dora & The Lost City Of Gold
Director: James Bobin
Cast: Isabela Moner, Eugenio Derbez, Michael Pena, Eva Longoria, Jeff Wahlberg, Danny Trejo