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Blu-ray Review: Dora and the Lost City of Gold

November 19, 2019

By John Corrado

★★½ (out of 4)

I don’t think anyone was asking for a winking, self-aware teenaged Dora the Explorer movie in the year 2019. I know I certainly wasn’t. But now we have one, and I’m pleased to report that it’s actually, somewhat surprisingly, not bad. It’s a thoroughly harmless live action adventure movie for kids that is even admittedly pretty amusing at times.

The film takes place about ten years after the show. Dora (Isabela Moner) is now sixteen years old and still lives in the jungle, going on adventures with her monkey Boots (Danny Trejo) and talking directly into her GoPro, of course sharing the Spanish words for things.

When Dora’s parents (Michael Peña and Eva Longoria) decide to go in search of a lost city of gold, they send her to live with her now-teenaged cousin Diego (Jeff Wahlberg) in the city, and go to high school with him for the first time in her life. The previously home-schooled Dora tries to navigate the new social order of high school, but she is instantly seen as a social pariah and her excitable nature leads to her being mocked or avoided by most of the other kids.

During a school field trip to the museum, Dora and Diego end up being kidnapped along with two of their classmates – Randy (Nicholas Coombe), a science nerd and fellow outcast who has a crush on Dora, and Sammy (Madeleine Madden), a popular girl who looks down upon the others – by treasure hunters who want to use Dora’s explorer skills to help lead them to the lost city. They are dropped in the middle of the jungle, where they team up with a family friend named Alejandro (Eugenio Derbez), and set off in search of Dora’s parents, who have dropped off the map.

Directed by James Bobin and co-written by Nicholas Stoller, the same creative team behind Disney’s The Muppets and Muppets Most Wanted, Dora and the Lost City of Gold could best be described as a self-referential take on the original animated TV series. The film opens with a flashback to Dora and Diego as little kids (Madelyn Miranda and Malachi Barton), the same age that they were on the show, right before Diego moves to the city. This sets the film up as both a faithful live action adaptation of the series, as well as a playful sendup of it that plays a lot of elements from the show for laughs.

I was already a bit too old for Dora the Explorer when it first came on the air in 2000, so I never actually watched it, but it was pretty unavoidable for a while there. I remember seeing it on at the dentist’s office and during family gatherings when younger relatives were watching it, so I was able to pick up on most of the references. Because I don’t have any nostalgic connection to it, this film obviously doesn’t hold the same appeal for me as it will for fans, but there is still enough to like here to keep it watchable. The film also gets extra points for casting Benicio Del Toro as the voice of the thieving fox Swiper.

Moner is appropriately bubbly and likeable in the leading role, and does a fine job of portraying an older but not necessarily more mature version of the fairly iconic character. The film features some decent set-pieces, complete with booby traps and “jungle puzzles,” along with the expected potty humour. While the target audience for this movie is slightly older than that of the show, Dora and the Lost City of Gold is still geared towards children and remains mostly accessible for younger audience members. The result is a mildly enjoyable adventure movie that is perfect for kids who are still too young for Indiana Jones, but who are maybe just starting to outgrow the Dora the Explorer show.

The Blu-ray also includes a blooper reel, a selection of deleted and extended scenes, as well as the four featurettes All About Dora, Can You Say Pelicula?, Dora in Flower Vision, and Dora’s Jungle House.

Dora and the Lost City of Gold is a Paramount Home Media Distribution release. It’s 102 minutes and rated PG.

Street Date: November 19th, 2019

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