I found watching Dora and the Lost City of Gold to be quite an ironic experience. See, my 2-year-old daughter Wynter had been absolutely obsessed with the cartoon for almost 12 months before she decided it was ok to watch other shows. I’d been so sick to death of listening to the cartoon while I was trying to write, that at times, I just change it on her, only to then have to listen to her scream about it. “I WANT DORA” she would yell at me. Finally, she’d decided that it’s not a huge deal if she watches something else. Now, all of a sudden, I’m still watching Dora. Only this time, on the big screen.
Dora and the Lost City of Gold follows titular Dora, as she tries to find her parents whom are lost, and being hunted by mercenaries, in a jungle of course.
Dora is played by Isabela Moner, and she is fantastic in the role. Dora, being a young girl, is very adolescent. She is clumsy, innocent, joyful. She has a great spirit but also a kind of ignorant bliss. Moner does a great job at displaying all of these things and she was the perfect choice for the role. I have to say though, at times, I was almost sick to my stomach, knowing that some critics sexualized her character and performance in the film. Anyone that did so should be on a watchlist somewhere.
Dora’s parents are played by Eva Longoria and Michael Pena. Eva Longoria is fine in the role, but MICHAEL PENA. This is a typical response of mine to seeing Pena in films. Ant Man: Michael Pena. World Trade Centre: Michael Pena. Shooter: Michael Pena. Buffalo Soldiers: Michael Pena. Big or small role, he is always fantastic and in Dora, he is fantastic. Pena is absolutely hilarious; his description of rave music was a highlight.
Dora’s cousin Diego, and friends, Sammy and Randy, are played by Jeff Wahlberg, Madeleine Madden and Nicholas Coombe, respectively. All three are great young actors and perform well. Wahlberg is great as Diego, having grown apart from Dora after moving away from her to the city. He finds it difficult to reconnect, as she is very awkward in social settings and he’s trying to make it through high school alive. Madden is also excellent here. Her Sammy isn’t Dora’s friend to be exact though, she just gets forced on the trip to find Dora’s parents, and she doesn’t like it. Madden, a young Kalkadoon/Arrernte woman, is definitely a star on the rise – it’s great to see an Indigenous actress on the big screen and she was also included as an almost life-size cardboard figure in the cardboard display at my local cinema – awesome to see. Coombe as Randy was also great comic relief, and he can hold his breath for seven minutes. Boots the monkey is played by Danny Trejo, though only has a small amount of dialogue while the thieving fox Swiper, is played by Benicio Del Toro, who has surprisingly a lot more dialogue than Boots.
The film includes some great scenes that mix the cartoon with live action quite cleverly – being a kid’s movies I don’t mind dropping some hints to adult readers. At the beginning of the film, a cartoon sequence leads to the live action characters Dora and Diego as they play together as children, the cartoon sequence is their imagination at work. Later on, in the film, Dora and co try to make their way through a field of large, beautiful flowers, only to get sprayed by the flowers pollen, which gets them, for lack of a better word, high, and we are transported back to a cartoon medium, which is how the live action characters see while affected by the pollen. It’s well done, and if there’s one thing I have learnt with kids’ film and having kids, it’s that attention spans are not all that great, so changing the medium from time to time is a great idea.
The film flows well, giving Dora a range of challenges to overcome along the way, making her a type of adolescent Lara Croft. Dora and the Lost City of Gold is a fun family film that’s tailored to suit children from a range of ages.
Director: James Bobin
Cast: Isabela Moner, Michael Pena, Jeff Wahlberg
Writers: Nicholas Stoller, Matthew Robinson, (based on a series created by Chris Gifford, Valerie Walsh, Eric Weiner)