It’s here. That weird TV show that your little sister loved, the one with that stupid catchy theme song, gets its live-action shot on the big screen.
Who was waiting for it? What crowds of moviegoers were shouting to the stars, demanding a Dora movie? No one really knows, and to make it even crazier, the movie that we got — that no one really wanted — actually ended up being pretty good!
Now, hear me out. This review for a kid’s movie is definitely worth your time. Why? Well, I’m still working on that reason, but I promise, if you stick with it and read this sucker all the way through, your life will at least have been made a little bit more interesting.
“Dora and the Lost City of Gold” naturally follows the story of a girl named Dora who was raised in the Columbian jungle by her parents. She spends her days playing in the jungle with her cousin Diego and her CGI monkey, Boots, exploring everywhere she can.
However, Dora’s life takes a drastic turn when her parents send her from the jungle so that they can go on a dangerous expedition. From there, she goes to a horrifying place that no rational human would ever voluntarily explore: high school.
Dora must adjust from freedom in the wild to a stereotypical high school where every smart girl is mean, every guy who has long hair and listens to music is a nerd, every guy other than the nerds and the fat kids are jocks and where Machiavellian style cliques battle for domination.
Dora soon finds that most people aren’t very accepting of those who don’t fit into a certain group, and ends up feeling very lonely.
After Dora hits social rock-bottom, her class goes on a trip to a museum where mercenaries capture her and some of her worst social enemies. The kidnappers intend to use Dora as leverage against her parents, who are hot on the trail to find the lost Incan city of gold.
Through some clever maneuvering, Dora and her buddies escape into the jungle where they strive to find Dora’s parents before the mercenaries do, testing bonds and forming lasting friendships along the way.
“Dora and the Lost City of Gold” is probably the weirdest major box office release of 2019. This PG version of the beloved children’s show feels like an odd mix between “Tomb Raider” and “High School Musical,” that, even more oddly, is actually a pretty enjoyable experience for adults and children alike.
Sure, there are certain parts of the experience that are more geared towards children than towards adults, but what the film lacks in sophistication, it makes up for with an ample serving of energy and heart.
Aside from a few side characters who over-act quite a bit, the entire cast delivers a solid performance.
Michael Peña delivers his most enjoyable performance as Dora’s father since his role in “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” and his on-screen chemistry with Eva Longoria, who plays Dora’s mother, is equal parts delightful and funny.
Most commendable of all the acting talents, however, is Isabela Moner’s performance as the teenage Dora. Moner commits completely to the role and radiates joy, curiosity and energy in a way that even her cartoon predecessor did not.
Additionally, though most don’t really care about this in a children’s movie, the camera direction and overall visual aesthetic of this film are very high-quality. From fluid, sweeping wide shots over scenery to the intricate set design that went into creating this film, the trained eye will certainly spot a great deal of dedicated talent on display here.
Yes, this film has a lot of narrative holes and leaps in logic, but these are no different than any other children’s film. This movie is structured in the way that children think about stories, making the experience that much more powerful for young viewers.
If you’re going to go see “Dora and the Lost City of Gold,” you should probably take your children or younger siblings so that it makes some sense to you.
Overall, “Dora and the Lost City of Gold” is a much better film than it had any right to be, incorporating a dedicated cast, intricate set and shot design and a timeless story of being true to yourself in the face of social adversity and conformity.
If you’re going for the right reasons, then “Dora and the Lost City of Gold” can be an enjoyable experience for all who see it, especially if you try to view it through the eyes of a child.