From the trailer alone, there’s a wacky and irreverent tone that has made ‘Dora and the Lost City of Gold’ so enticing. Having nieces and nephews, I’ve had my share of ‘Dora the Explorer’ and I find her very annoying in the cartoon, but the trailer had enough self-awareness and some funny lines that I was curious and kind of excited to watch it.
From the beginning of the movie, ‘Dora and the Lost City of Gold’ acknowledges the source material with a wink and a nudge, turning the cartoon into part of Dora and her cousin Diego’s make-believe games while living in the jungle with Dora’s parents, who happen to be professors. When Diego leaves for the city, Dora grows up entirely alone, living in the wild, completely self-sufficient, and emotionally resilient.
Ten years later, when her parents prepare for a trip to discover the lost city of Parapata, the city of gold, they send Dora off to the city to be around children her age and to learn to socialize. Their most important piece of advice? Be yourself.
Director James Bobin and writers Matthew Robinson and Nicholas Stoller manage to properly set up all the exposition of the movie quickly but without scrimping on necessary story elements. Dora’s life in Los Angeles goes by quickly but manages to impress upon us how different she is to normal teens in hilarious situations by staying true to the character she’s established in the film. It also introduces to us the 16-year old Diego, her rival in school, Sammy, and another fringe student, Randy.
I’m surprised it didn’t last long, only creating origin points for character development before the four students are kidnapped during a field trip to the National History Museum and brought to the jungle to find Dora’s parents.
So while ‘Dora and the Lost City of Gold’ is a comedy adventure with a lot of wonderful homages to many Indiana Jones films, and some video games, it also becomes a story of a young girl learning what it means to be a part of a larger community. Dora may be comfortable alone and very capable as an individual but there’s a whole lot she had been missing doing everything solo. And the three other students, including her own cousin, learn quite a lot from her as well.
‘Dora and the Lost City of Gold’ has the unenviable challenge to make the movie cater to all ages but it manages to do this with a great balance of physical humour, witty lines, self-awareness, and even moments of pure absurdity that somehow comes in just as we’ve become settled with the film.
At the same time, it’s not afraid to make fun of its main character, Dora, creating a rather enjoyable character whose enthusiasm and tenacity is both her greatest strength and her greatest weakness. Amazingly enough, the writing and directing is unapologetic of Dora and puts these qualities front-and-center.
There’s enough action and adventure in ‘Dora and the Lost City of Gold’ to keep kids engaged as it delivers its messages of keeping true to yourself and to finding people who can appreciate you for your best and worst qualities. Outside of the adventure genre that propels the story forward, there’s a lovely story of a capable, self-sufficient teenager who discovers that maybe the most exciting land to explore is the people around them.
The trailer doesn’t disappoint and there’s a lot more funnier scenes than what the trailer has shown us. ‘Dora and the Lost City of Gold’ is a great adventure for everyone in the family.