Dan's Review: Not much to Treasure About "Dora and the Lost City of Gold"
Aug 09, 2019 12:31PM
By Dan Metcalf
Isabela Moner in Dora and the Lost City of Gold - © 2019 Paramount Pictures.
Dora and the Lost City of Gold (Paramount)
Rated PG for action and some impolite humor.
Starring Isabela Moner, Eugenio Derbez, Michael Peña, Eva Longoria, Danny Trejo (voice), Jeff Wahlberg, Madelyn Miranda, Malachi Barton, Benicio del Toro (voice), Nicholas Coombe, Madeleine Madden, Temuera Morrison, Adriana Barraza, Pia Miller, Q'orianka Kilcher, Isela Vega.
Written by Nicholas Stoller, Matthew Robinson, and Tom Wheeler, based on the TV series "Dora the Explorer" by Chris Gifford, Valerie Walsh Valdes, and Eric Weiner.
Directed by James Bobin.
As the well runs dry (or so we thought) on motion pictures derived from TV shows, we see how desperate the movie industry has become. No longer content to adapting successful shows into full-blown movies, we now see films based on obscure and (dare I say) bad TV shows. No matter, the studios are now turning to children’s educational programming as their latest resource, such as this week’s release of Dora and the Lost City of Gold, based on Nickelodeon’s “Dora the Explorer” series. How do you make an entire movie based on a kid who teaches simple Spanish words to kindergartners while trotting around a jungle while avoiding a larcenous fox, you ask?
It’s a challenge, but here it goes.
The story focuses on Dora (Isabel Moner as a teen and Madelyn Miranda as a child) as she leaves a South American paradise with her explorer parents (Eva Longoria and Michael Peña) and transitions to an urban Los Angeles lifestyle with her relatives, including her cousin Diego (Jeff Wahlberg). Still driven by an innocent need for discovery, Dora struggles to fit in with her peers until she, Diego, and two other social misfits are caught up in a plot to find a lost city of gold in the jungle. Dora, Diego, valedictorian Sammy (Madeleine Madden), and class nerd/gamer Randy (Nicholas Coombe) are kidnapped by mercenaries who have exploited her parents, forcing them to find the lost city in the jungle. The teens are flown to South America, where they are aided by Alejandro (Eugenio Derbez), an apparent colleague of Dora’s parents, who help them track her parents. Their adventures eventually lead the teens to the lost city, where Dora must use her charm and “exploring” expertise to outsmart the villains and the traps set inside the ancient ruins. Along the way, the kids are aided by Dora’s monkey pal Boots (voiced by Danny Trejo) as they avoid Swiper (voiced by Benicio del Toro), a masked fox working for the mercenaries, trying to nab the girl’s treasure map (if you’re keeping score, Dora also wears a backpack consistently throughout the movie).
Dora and Lost City of Gold is problematic, as other previous (and forgettable) TV-to-film adaptations. Let’s begin with the source material. I ask myself: “Is Dora the Explorer (the TV show) funny?” (No). “Should producers make a comedy based on a show designed for kindergartners?” Probably not. What we’re left with is a movie that wavers somewhere between self-parody and fart jokes. By the time Dora teaches Sammy a song about burying your own poop in the jungle, you may ask yourself even tougher questions about the meaning of life, or at the very least, why you’d pay money to see such a spectacle.
If I were to judge the film solely on how it delivers to a distinct audience, then it’s a sure-fire hit. Moner is charming and lives up to the childish character’s origins, even if only to satisfy fans’ expectations.
Perhaps I’m being too hard and should accept that Dora and the Lost City of Gold is a movie targeted to young adults who grew up with the TV show, and appreciate the innocent charm of a program that helped them learn what “delicioso” means while grabbing a few nuggets about geography, zoology and the environment.
If “Dora” culture is that important to you and you don’t mind painfully obvious life lessons about inclusion, environmental awareness, and family bonds, go right ahead and see the movie.
Otherwise, it’s a painful experience.
"Dora and the Lost City of Gold" Trailer