THE MOVIE GUY — Dora gets lost in mediocre movie

Published 12:05 am Friday, August 9, 2019

It’s been 20 years since “Dora the Explorer” skipped happily onto the children’s television scene. She has become a beloved icon of multicultural learning for countless youngsters around the world. I even know some adults who are big fans. I’m surprised that it took producers so long to bring her story to the movies.

Better late than never, I suppose.

The movie finally arrives in theaters this week. As the film opens, Dora (Isabel Moner) has grown up and been sent to live in the big city with her cousin (Jeff Wahlberg) while her parents (Eva Longoria and Michael Peña) go searching the jungle for a lost Incan city of gold.

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She struggles to fit into high school, but that doesn’t last long as Dora and a few of her new friends (Madeleine Madden and Nicholas Coombe) are suddenly kidnapped and taken to South America. They escape and team up with a silly adult (Eugenio Derbez) to embark on a Peruvian jungle adventure of their own.

The film is filled with many of Dora’s typical characteristics and friends. She is still prone to breaking the fourth wall to help people learn Spanish words. Her backpack (not talking this time) and monkey friend, Boots (Danny Trejo) are along for the ride, as well as Swiper, the sneaky fox (Benicio Del Toro).

Most importantly, Dora brings her unbounded sense of optimism and love of learning to the story. Moner does a great job embodying these traits, even though she’s now a high school student rather than a 7-year-old girl. I was actually quite impressed with Moner’s performance, considering that she’s being asked to play a kid at heart in a more adult adventure story.

The story, on the other hand, is a silly mess. There’s never any doubt that Dora and her friends will win the day thanks to their plucky intelligence. I suppose that’s to be expected in a story based on a children’s character, but why then did the filmmakers make her a teenager in a plot with real-world ramifications?

It’s an odd mix, as is the live action actors and the computer-generated characters and larger-than-life jungle settings. I suppose the Nickelodeon crowd may be impressed, but teenagers and adults will roll their eyes. That’s OK. The filmmakers are obviously targeting pre-teen kids, and they deserve credit for having assembled such a notable cast.

Sadly, for the rest of us, “Dora and the Lost City of Gold” is a muddled mess and mediocre at best. Dora deserves much better than this.


Movie reviews by Sean, “The Movie Guy,” are each week in “The Port Arthur News” and seen weekly on KFDM and Fox4. Sean welcomes your comments via email at