Friday, August 9, 2019

Dora and the Lost City of Gold - Review

In a world full of baffling news and choices made on multiple fronts in the movie business, a live action Dora the Explorer the movie that involves her as a teenager, forced to move to the city just might make a top ten list. However, the results are not nearly as bad as the premise might suggest on the surface. The filmmakers behind this odd project actually produced something that’s sort of….fun?

Having spent most of her life exploring the jungle, nothing could prepare Dora (Isabela Moner) for her most dangerous adventure yet -- high school. Accompanied by a ragtag group of teens and Boots the monkey, Dora embarks on a quest to save her parents while trying to solve the seemingly impossible mystery behind a lost Incan civilization.

The odds of Dora and the Lost City of Gold being good are fairly slim, and it’s highly unlikely anyone would disagree, but somehow the use of a solid, slightly predictable, adventure story works for an aged up version of the character. Unfortunately, it takes a moment to actually get there, as the film has to take a very inconvenient and seemingly pointless trip outside the jungle to the city. It presents a lot of the same fish out of water material that audiences have seen time and again, and it really could’ve been trimmed down significantly.

The little detour to the Los Angeles high school only serves to introduce the side characters, and bring Dora’s cousin Diego (Jeff Wahlberg), into the story. And boy do they feel like a waste. Put in to simply react to the ordeal in front of them or provide some odd and unsuccessful comedic relief, Dora and Diego both feel far more interesting than two normal high schoolers ever could. But even then, the film live and dies on the shoulders of whoever plays Dora, and Isabela Moner happens to be up to the challenge. She manages to balance a childlike positivity with the capabilities that come from  being a teenager, and without her plucky attitude, the film would likely fall flat on its face.

The film is not without more significant issues, but sometimes the tone of a family adventure movie can be slightly forgiven if it delivers the energy and delight that many might expect from it. One can look past the complete tonal shifts from a heartfelt moment to a talking, masked fox within moments, if the rest of the pieces fit into place. And at the end of the day, while the sum of its parts may just be average from a film perspective, Dora and the Lost City of Gold is an easy watch for the whole family.

Dora and the Lost City of Gold won’t break any box office records. It likely won’t spawn a new franchise or inspire any sort of influence in Hollywood. It’s not great, but it is a breezy, enjoyable film, unlike most of the summer offerings this year. As school slowly approaches for many, and the heat starts to fade, if you’re looking for one more family outing to the movies, Dora and the Lost City of Gold would not be a bad bet. It even throws in a cheesy moral for all the kiddos to leave with.

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