Starring: Isabela Moner, Eugenio Derbez, Michael Peña
Director: James Bobin
Running Time: 102 mins
Dora And The Lost City Of Gold is an American film about Dora, an explorer, who leads her friends through the jungle she grew up in to save her missing parents, all the while sitting on the verge of discovering Parapata, the mysterious lost city of gold.
Of all the TV shows from your childhood, the one you would have expected to have seen on the big screen by now is Dora The Explorer. Anyway, while the live-action adaptation of the show is long overdue, there’s no denying that they’ve absolutely hit the nail on the head with Dora And The Lost City Of Gold, a funny, fresh, bright and irresistibly cheery family film that’s as funny as it is often surprising.
But we start with the one thing that you really wouldn’t expect from the Dora The Explorer movie: that it might actually be more aimed at people who watched the show when they were young, rather than just children nowadays. Of course, the film is absolutely appropriate for viewers of all ages, and its light-hearted and enjoyably adventurous vibes will be more than enough to entertain the little ones, but there is a heap of comedy and references throughout that are squarely aimed at the young adult market – the people who used to watch Dora The Explorer in the early 2000s.
More than just a cheery and silly kids’ movie, Dora And The Lost City Of Gold is a right laugh even for older viewers throughout. If you didn’t watch the show in your childhood, then you might not take to the humour quite as much, but the movie’s brilliantly self-aware brand of comedy – poking fun at a handful of the TV show’s idiosyncracies – makes for some fantastic laughs throughout, and adds to the riotous, almost anarchic sense of fun that really makes this such a good watch.
Because, of course, this film could so easily have been a simple, easy-going Nickelodeon movie aimed squarely at the under-10s audience, with happy characters, silly toilet humour and a generic adventure plot. Now, don’t get me wrong, all of that is there to see in this film, but Dora And The Lost City Of Gold really pushes the boat out with anarchic and hyper-self-aware humour and storytelling, something that’s not easy to do and still make a good kids’ movie.
It’s not quite on the level of The Lego Movie, which really was a mind-blowing redefinition of what a kids’ movie could be, but in similar fashion to the likes of The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out Of Water, which also used nostalgia for the original show and a heap of self-aware in-jokes to great effect, Dora And The Lost City Of Gold can be a riotously funny watch, which was an absolute delight to see.
Beyond the humour, though, there’s even more to praise about this movie, most of all the lead performance from Isabela Moner. While the whole cast is great fun to watch and entirely on board with the film’s often offbeat style, Moner is truly wonderful as Dora herself, playing up the smiley likability of the original character in adorable fashion, but also to such an extent that it’s yet another self-aware joke in itself, with Moner’s on-screen charisma accounting for a heap of the whole film’s entertainment factor.
As far as telling a good story goes, I can’t say that Dora And The Lost City Of Gold is quite the masterpiece I would have liked to see. On the one hand, it’s an energetic and enjoyable adventure movie throughout, and is the explorer movie that Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull never was. On the other, though, it is unavoidably simplistic and generic, and when the comedy isn’t working at full capacity (particularly in the second act), the film can feel a little on the dull side for viewers over the age of 5.
With that said, the period where the story sags is bookended by an electrifyingly funny opening act, as well as an adorable and genuinely entertaining finale (not to mention a great musical number in the closing credits). And throughout, while it may be difficult to get your head round such a strangely anarchic Dora The Explorer movie, the film’s energy and audacity in trying something different is hugely rewarding, proving an immensely entertaining and genuinely likable watch throughout, which is why I’m giving it a 7.5.