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Film Review:

‘Dora and the Lost City of Gold’ delivers an underwhelming live-action adaptation of the popular kids’ show

Swiper, feel free to swipe this one

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DORA THE EXPLORER

We are all familiar with the pink-shirted, backpack-wearing, short-haired explorer Dora. For almost two decades, “Dora the Explorer” has graced our television screens along with her monkey friend Boots and her trustworthy backpack and map. Now, keeping with current trends, I guess it was time to make a live-action adaptation of the animated show.

Walking into the theater, I had no idea what to expect from James Bobin’s “Dora and the Lost City of Gold.” I figured it could go either one of two ways: it could be good, or it could be really, really bad. To my disappointment, it was neither. Instead, it served as a prime example of unsatisfying mediocrity.  

DORA THE EXPLORER

The film acknowledged its own absurdity with self-aware humor by answering “what if” questions. What if a girl actually grew up in a jungle? What if this girl actually had a pet monkey? What if she talked to a figurative camera and asked imaginative people to repeat words in Spanish? Well, it would actually be kind of funny. I even laughed aloud a few times. 

What I appreciated about “Dora and the Lost City of Gold” was that it never took itself too seriously. Even though it was noticeably geared towards a young audience, the film often delivered its childish themes with this self-aware humor that made the film more-or-less tolerable. The film’s pitfalls were when it tried to be something other than a Dora movie, taking on a more serious facade.    

Regardless, the film had the potential to be a lot better. The way it delivered the character of Dora in the opening act was amusing and somewhat believable. But as Dora began to navigate her way through high school and go on a daring adventure to save her parents, the film became progressively worse.  

The film often felt unbalanced and out of place. It attempted to be a high school misfit coming-of-age movie in one scene, and then in the next, a treasure hunt adventure film. The film could have chosen a more consistent path that made more sense for a Dora movie, but instead, it felt more like a really bad Indiana Jones with a talking fox. 

Speaking of talking foxes, the film lost an opportunity by not developing what could have been its best characters. Boots, voiced by Danny Trejo, talked once and gave a brief and underwhelming dialog. Swiper the Fox, voiced by Benicio Del Toro, seemed out of place and underused. Dora’s father, played by Micheal Peña, was the film’s best actor, but his time on screen was minimal and his lines were unimpressive. 

The movie had a few good moments, but for the most part, it was just a cheesy, over-the-top, family-adventure film filled with cliches and underdeveloped characters. The film couldn’t decide what it wanted to be — A comedy? A high school drama? An adventure film? It just decided to be all three, and all of them poorly. 

DORA THE EXPLORER

“Dora and the Lost City of Gold” was a disappointing attempt to bring Dora to the big screen. The film went in too many directions and never completely established its characters or its story, and therefore, I never completely knew what I was watching. However, all that being said, the film will most likely appeal to younger audiences. If you’re not a young moviegoer yourself, well, why are you watching Dora in the first place? 

Reach writer Andrew Ronstadt at arts@dailyuw.com. Twitter: @AndrewRonstadt 

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