There’s a lot of great kid movies out right now that adults can enjoy: Toy Story 4, The Lion King, Aladdin and Secret Life of Pets 2. I saw three of the four twice and recommend all highly for people of any age.
Unfortunately, can’t say the same for Dora and the Lost City of Gold. I expected a youthful, Latina-oriented take on a smart young girl, having an adventure in the jungle straight out of The Raiders of the Lost Ark.
What I got was some middlingly pretty set-pieces, a few chuckles here and there, and long stretches where I was…bored. And I am VERY forgiving on kid, teen, and especially YA films.
The target audience (I’m guessing, as a Dora newbie):
- Those who’ve seen Dora The Explorer as a cartoon show, and long for some great nostalgia.
- Or the very young, even though Dora is a teen here, and there are high school party-scene hi-jinks with some bullying. So things get confused a bit. I honestly don’t think this a clever enough film for teens, so why make Dora older at all?
- Dora has a lot of cute meta moments deriving from the animated childhood series. She talks to the camera, asks questions of the audience, and cheerfully sings about digging poop holes in the wilderness. This has a delightful quality, especially since her vocabulary upgraded as she grew older. These bits drew the most laughs from the grown-ups in the audience.
- Dora is relentlessly cheerful, even in the face of derision from the ‘normal’ public school kids. I liked that. I’d totally sing about my backpack with her. She does get some harassment for her ‘childish’ behavior (she was home schooled), as a total fish out of water. The tables are turned later on in the jungle. These are good elements.
- The Latina/Latino elements were big and bold, as befits the franchise and the thousands of kids seeking young heroes who look and act like they do. It’s aspirational, cheery — and even ropes in ancient Inca culture in an inclusive way.
- The Poop Hole scene is amusing and clever, and shouldn’t actually offend anyone. I could see myself singing the “Poop Song”, if I knew no one could hear me. And now I’ve said the word poop more times in one review than anyone should expect.
- Eva Longoria and Micheal Pena tried. They weren’t give much to do, although Pena’s “Rave Song” was a highlight. It was like his character from Ant-Man paid us a visit.
- I loved Dora’s jungle home on the water. Can I move there?
The Really Good:
- The sequence with the Giant Flowers was pure gold — worth the price of admission right there. I won’t spoil it, but when the spores are inhaled, the laughs flow naturally. Adults will know it’s an hallucinogenic sequence, but kiddos will only see magic at work. It works on both levels and is just grand.
- UPDATE: There’s also this. I’ll say no more, and thank you to all the RunPee fans who educated me about them:
What’s Less Good:
- The Lost City of Gold is ridiculous. These sets were cheap looking. Compare the ‘city’ (looked like a market stall) to the Cave of Wonders in Aladdin. THIS was what people were willing to kill for?
- The resolution is iffy. Just put the statue back? What? And if that statue was solid gold, tiny Dora lifted it like Styrofoam. At least pretend it’s heavy. 🙂
- Dora’s insight to resolve the climax had no establishment either. This movie should have had clues for smart viewers to follow as the adventure unfolded, and be rewarded as they figured things out while Dora does. That’s a storytelling cheat.
- The various CGI characters were a bad cross between realistic and cartoony. The director should have made a choice here to take it one way or the other. If animals can be said to fall into the Uncanny Valley, this is an example of just that.
- The Alejando character was just painful to watch. Was that a direction error, or poor acting? His scenes brought the movie down. The henchmen were handled with much more amusement.
Dora & The Lost City of Gold, Overall:
It’s a silly romp that makes no sense, but since I don’t have those nostalgic Dora lenses, I’m going to give this a higher grade with the target audience in mind than I would have otherwise.
Am I being too harsh on a childhood classic? Educate me in the comments, please.
About The Peetimes: All 3 Peetimes are great. 🙂 I don’t think I’ve ever had all the Peetimes be this good, so let your bladder decide.
There are extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Dora and the Lost City of Gold. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)
Rated (PG) for action and some impolite humor
Genres: Adventure, Family
Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)