WHAT IT'S ABOUT:
Having spent most of her life exploring the jungle with her parents, nothing could prepare Dora for her most terrifying adventure ever—high school. Always the explorer, Dora quickly finds herself leading Boots (her best friend, a monkey), Diego, a mysterious jungle inhabitant, and a rag tag group of teens on an adventure to save her parents and solve the impossible mystery behind a lost city of gold.
WHAT WE THOUGHT:
Dora the Explorer wasn't a thing when I was a kid. I grew up with Indiana Jones. He was the type of adventurer who I imagined myself being when I buried my toys in the sandbox and then slowly undusted them with my sister's fancy paintbrushes. I, too, wanted to be a swashbuckler and Explorer and who punched Nazis. I thought he was the coolest person in the world, next to my dad.
For today's older and younger kids – or at least some of them with access to Nickelodeon – there is Dora the Explorer. The American animated television series was created by Chris Gifford, Valerie Walsh Valdes and Eric Weiner and premiered on the children's TV network on 14 August 2000. The show captured the attention of children all over the work with its unique brand of breaking the fourth wall and incorporating fun into learning.
Now the movie, Dora and the Lost City of Gold, which was directed by James Bobin (who also directed Alice Through the Looking Glass and Muppets) is here, and it's a whole new world for young and old viewers. Whether or not they've watched the show.
The film starts when Dora (Isabela Moner) is sent from the jungle (that she grew up in) to Los Angeles to attend high school alongside her cousin Diego (Jeff Wahlberg). Her parents (Eva Longoria and Michael Peña), are archaeology professors and set off to find the legendary city of Parapata.
Poor Dora – who would rather be with them – is made to deal with US public school metal detectors, bullies and more. In what I found to be the most moving parts of the film, we see her finding out just what life in the "real world" is like for tweens. It's not-so-much Mean Girls and has a classic Nickelodeon flavour. Meaning that it's slapstick but with a whole lot of heart. This theme is carried throughout the film.
While in the middle of the high school drama, Dora is kidnapped and shipped to South America on a daring adventure, and what I love the most is that she hardly blinks. She's a brave, strong girl who figures things and always tried her best. My favourite quote from her, in this respect, is: "If you just believe in yourself, anything is possible,". I think having these qualities is really special in a mainstream female lead, especially in a movie geared towards children. Dora is always ready to jump, not because she isn't scared but because she really believes in herself. She's the type of character who finds an artefact and says without a moment's doubt: "That belongs in a museum!"
That's not to say that this movie is without fault. It's predictable and goes on a well-trodden path to a happy ending, but something that adults have to remember as they yawn at this script is that for many of the children watching Dora the Explorer, this is a whole new world.
They haven't grown up like I, and maybe you did, with Harrison Ford running away from a large boulder. This is a movie for them, and it serves its audience brilliantly and gives them what I think will be one of their favourite movies as they grow up. Go see this with your kids and go in expecting to laugh a little but mostly be the reason a kid gets to see someone they'll love on the big screen.