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MOVIE REVIEW: FTN reviews Dora and the Lost City of Gold

August 18th, 2019 by Marc Comments

Dora and the Lost City of Gold (PG)
Directed by: James Bobin
Starring: Isabela Moner, Eugenio Derbez, Michael Peña and Eva Longoria
Run time: 1hr 42mins

Dora, a teenage explorer, leads her friends on an adventure to save her parents and solve the mystery behind a lost city of gold.

So, despite being waaaay too old for Dora when it was on TV, I am the father of two kids, so I have watched and read more Dora The Explorer than I care to recall… but because of that, this movie tickled me much more than it should have.

The concept is simple but effective: take Dora that we know from the cartoon/books, make her older and place her in a somewhat real world and see what happens.

And, more than expected, it actually turns out to be a lot of fun.

Handled by Muppets director Bobin, this is familiar territory for him as, just like the Muppets, this is taking a high-concept, cartoon character and grounding them in a world that is entirely aware of how crazy they are while trying to treat them as part of the norm.

The overall effect is greatly aided by a cast who is totally in on the joke and entirely open to going with it.

Moner – who most readers will know from Instant Family and Transformers: The Last Knight – is so wonderful in the title role; she just radiates innocent enthusiasm with a large dose of naïveté, all the while being confident and capable in the jungle when she steps up to her role in the tale… all while singing songs and believing monkeys talk (they do. Sort of. Foxes definitely do), she so completely sells you on her being the grown-up Dora that you will be totally ok going on the journey with her.

Alongside her, Ant-man star Michael Pena is totally free of any self-awareness, going along with the daftness with aplomb –  a beatboxing scene needs to be seen to be believed. The other cast members all embrace the gig with open arms too, but have little to do outside of react accordingly and fulfil the necessary stereotypes.

All this enthusiasm is teamed with a healthy dose of self-referential humour… this movie is completely in on the joke.

Sadly, where the movie does fall down is in its over reliance to basically be Indiana Jones, with some scenes lifted almost right out of the Lucasfilm archives and while it does let us know it knows what we know, it doesn’t take long to feel like we deserve more than something we’ve seen several times before.

That all said, the action is all handled ably enough, without ever being pulse-racing… but let’s remember this is still aimed at younger audiences, so it’s never going to be melting faces or hand-in-chest-heart-removal.

However, in the end one of the most pervasive aspects of the movie is just how heart-warming and uplifting it is… and it is, with even the hardest heart likely to be melted somewhat by all the shenanigans.

And with very positive messages about family and being – and believing in – yourself no matter what, it’s hard to not appreciate that it firmly ticks all the boxes for the intended audience.

So, in a nutshell, if you were too old for Dora first-time around, this will likely be lost on you… unless you have kids and found her through them.

But, like Nick Jr’s other shows – Peppa Pig certainly comes to mind – if you just go with it and give it a chance, you’ll definitely find something to enjoy.

So overall, familiar and derivative in parts, but for a wet Sunday afternoon, there’s just enough to keep the adults entertained as the kids have an inevitable blast.

3 out of 5 Nerds

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Marc is a self-confessed nerd. Ever since seeing Star Wars for the first time around 1979 he’s been an unapologetic fan of the Wars and still believes, with Clone Wars and now Underworld, we are yet to see the best Star Wars. He’s a dad of two who now doesn’t have the time (or money) to collect the amount of toys, comics, movies and books he once did, much to the relief of his long-suffering wife. In the real world he’s a graphic designer. He started Following the Nerd because he was tired of searching a million sites every day for all the best news that he loves and decided to create one place where you can go to get the whole lot. Secretly he longs to be sitting in the cockpit of his YT-1300 Corellian Transport ship with his co-pilot Chewie, roaming the universe, waiting for his next big adventure, but feels just at home watching cartoons with his kids….