Dora Brings Nostalgic Chuckles, But Inconsistencies Plague This Nickelodeon Release

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Dora and the Lost City of Gold Bluray

The idea of adapting the Nickelodeon pre-school cartoon series, DORA THE EXPLORER, into a matured teenaged jungle expert is, quite frankly, an idea that should have been money in the bank. From the trailers, we see all the classic DORA touchpoints that seem deservedly odd in a live-action film, such as young Dora breaking the fourth wall and asking the audience if they can say a word. That's a cute throwback to the cartoon series. 

When we first meet Dora, she's six years old, and living in the jungle with her parents, Elena (EVA LONGORIA) and Cole (MICHAEL PEÑA), and her cousin Diego. When Diego has to go back home to the city (Go, Diego! Go!), Dora is left with no one her own age with whom to relate.

Fast forward ten years, and Dora (ISABELA MERCED) is an intrepid explorer, taking risks and making mistakes. Thus, when her parents -- also explorers -- find the missing piece to a puzzle that will lead them to Parapeta, the film's Lost City of Gold, they send Dora off to live with her aunt in the city. Dora's lack of social skills make her an outcast among the students, but her positive attitude carries her through everything, despite the embarrassment it causes her cousin, Diego (JEFF WAHLBERG). She also manages to run afoul of reigning class know-it-all Sammy (MADELEINE MADDEN) and tries to befriend the awkward Randy (NICHOLAS COOMBE).

When a museum field trip scavenger hunt forces the four teenagers to be on the same team, they find they are granted unprecedented access to the museum's lower levels. But it's a trap, set to kidnap Dora so she can lead a band of treasure-hunting mercenaries to Parapeta. Upon arrival in South Africa, however, the teens are rescued by the bumbling Alejandro (EUGENIO DERBEZ), who claims to be a friend of her (now missing) parents, and is trying to find them.

Jungle puzzles are solved, lost cities are found, bad guys are thwarted and lasting friendships are formed. 

That, in and of itself, would have made for -- if not a great movie, then at least a good one. And the good moments of DORA AND THE LOST CITY OF GOLD certainly more than outweigh any bad ones. But the story inconsistencies have audiences questioning too much about the plot. For instance, while Dora has always talked to her monkey, Boots, he has never talked back. Why? Because monkeys don't talk in the real world. When Boots finally does speak to Dora (with the voice of DANNY TREJO), it's after she bumps her head so you can forgive the somewhat dazed moment. (She also converses with her map and her backpack while Diego swings away on vines in an animated sequence representing their being overcome by a psychotropic pollen of a jungle plant.)

But while animals don't talk -- and Dora is poked fun at for trying to talk to them -- nobody bats an eye at Swiper the Fox (BENICIO DEL TORES), who wears a mask, walks about on his hind legs, and talks to everone he comes into contact with. This is only one inconsistency that spoils the world-building rules of the story. We also find out that someone we think is an ally is actually the boss of the bad guys; which makes even less sense considering the bad guys were after him earlier in the film, talking about getting him to themselves, not within earshot of anyone they were trying to fool. This is lying to the audience, and it's an unpardonable sin of storytelling.

DORA AND THE LOST CITY OF GOLD might be enjoyed by the youngest of viewers, but older viewers will watch it once, appreciate the callbacks, and then move on. That's a shame for something that could, and should, have been a slam-dunk franchise.

 

 

 

Grade: 
3.0 / 5.0