Directed by: James Bobin
Written by: Nicholas Stoller & Matthew Robinson
Synopsis: Dora, a teenage explorer, leads her friends on an adventure to save her parents and solve the mystery behind a lost city of gold.
Starring: Isabela Moner, Michael Pena, Eva Longoria, Eugenio Derbez, Jeffrey Wahlberg, Madeleine Madden & Nicholas Coombe
Runtime: 102 minutes
Release: Aug. 8, 2019
Rating: PG (for action and some impolite humor)
Can you say “divertido?”
That’s right, I had a lot of fun with Dora and the Lost City of Gold, Paramount’s live-action interpretation of the popular Nickelodeon cartoon Dora the Explorer. From the opening scene I was gleaming with a childish delight that, for most of the film, seemed chiseled into my cheekbones like I was one of Dora’s relics.
The project re-teams director James Bobin (Flight of the Conchords, The Muppets) with co-writer Nicholas Stoller (director of Forgetting Sarah Marshall). The pair’s signature sense of good-natured humor and sentimentality seamlessly translates to an Indian Jones-lite adventure with lots of heart.
Before Dora sets off on the journey of a lifetime, however, the script sends her to Los Angeles (which is strangely only ever referred to by anybody as “The City”) where she’s meant to cultivate actual human connections, having spent her pre-teen years making friends with all manner of wildlife in the jungles of South America. This leads to some pretty creative fish out of water sequences as well as some of the film’s biggest laughs.
Isabela Moner can’t get enough credit. She effortlessly shoulders the weight of an impossible task: embody the plucky, can-do spirit of the Dora character without coming off overly cartoonish. Her unending positivity and unconditional love for everyone is contagious and almost dares you to walk away from the film without feeling a little better about the world, which is rare from a studio picture these days.
Moner is supported by a talented comedic cast. Michael Pena and Eva Longoria make an adorable couple as Dora’s adventurer parents. Eugenio Derbez charms once again as the charismatic klutz. Jeffrey Wahlberg is sour then sweet as Diego, Dora’s world-weary cousin who grew up in the city away from the shielded jungle of his cousin’s childhood. Madeleine Madden puts her own stamp on the whole “Mean Girl” act after becoming threatened by Dora’s arrival. Nicholas Coombe gets a couple laughs as the loner geek with a not-so-secret crush on our heroine.
If you’re familiar with the Dora cartoon, then you’ll get an even bigger kick out of some of the jokes as The Lost City of Gold playfully pokes fun at its source material. It’s never without its sentimentality, though, and that’s the real success here. Bobin and company tastefully toe the line between self-parody and sincere thoughtfulness.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (out of five)
Have you had a chance to check out Dora and the Lost City of Gold? If so, what’d you think? If not, is it something you’re even interested in? Jump down the comments below and eat me know your thoughts!