Dora The Explorer was a bilingual animated TV show for young kids that ran until 2013, but is repeated enough that the current generation of tiny tots will probably know the inquisitive little girl who can speak Spanish and English, and who goes on little adventures with her monkey, Boots (thus named because he wears boots, of course), a back pack named Backpack and a talking map.
This 2019 live action adventure is squarely aimed at those kids (and parents) who love Dora, adventure and innocent fun, and it charms with much of the credit for its joyfulness due to the central performance of Isabela Moner as the now-teenage Dora.
Although she is now a teenager, Dora is just as sweet as she was when she was a small child living with her explorer parents (Peña and Longoria) and a CGI Boots in the jungle. When mum and dad head out to search for a lost Incan ruin, Dora is shipped off to the big city to attend high school for the first time with her cousin Diego (Wahlberg). He’s not that impressed to be saddled with a relative who sings about the contents of her backpack and is overly enthusiastic about everything, and he’s even less thrilled when they are both kidnapped – along with two fellow pupils, overachieving Sammu (Madden) and nerdy Randy (Coombe) – and left in the wilds of south America to embark on their own adventure to find Dora’s parents.
Featuring some lovely nods to the TV series – cartoon Dora had a habit of talking to camera to get kids to repeat Spanish words, and when she does that early on in the movie, both parents look at her as if she’s gone mad – and a terrific hallucinatory animated sequence, this is like a pre-teen version of Raiders Of The Lost Ark crossed with Spy Kids as Dora and her pals make their way through puzzles and dangers (though not very scary ones – this is a PG and is aimed at the very young).
It’s very simple and there are no great threats, apart from animated fox Swiper and some bumbling baddies. Instead it’s an enthusiastic, engaging and sweet romp that weaves in nods to the environment and little moral asides amongst the fun. It may stumble when Dora bursts into song (it’s not only her pals who will want to shut her up as quickly as possible), especially during the grating end credits dance number, but the movie has its heart in the right place and a star in the making in the infectiously sunny Moner.
Is Dora And The Lost City Of Gold suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
The teens do find themselves in danger – including in a cave that fills quickly with water – but at no point should young viewers feel too scared by their adventures.
Very young viewers may worry when the group are encased in quick sand but they escape quickly, as they do in all the scenes in which they are in mild danger.
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