Saturday, August 10, 2019

Dora and the Lost City of Gold - Movie Review

The Movie: Dora and the Lost City of Gold

The Director: James Bobin

The Cast: Isabela Moner, Eugenio Derbez, Michael Peña, Benicio Del Toro, Eva Longoria, Jeff Wahlberg, Madeleine Madden, Nicholas Coombe, Temuera Morrison, Eugenio Derbez

The Story: Dora, a teenage explorer, leads her friends on an adventure to save her parents and solve the mystery behind a lost city of gold.

The Review:
Dora has been a cartoon phenomenon for years so it was just a matter of time before she hit the big screen with a live action adaptation and holy cow did they do it right. I love the family friendly style of the movie with an extra focus on how pure and innocent Dora herself is as she navigates a dangerous and jaded world she has never experienced. Isabela Moner is a revelation in the title role as she plays Dora with a perky personality and an endless stream of optimism that no manner of colonized civilization could ever knock down.

The story is basically a kid friendly version of Indiana Jones which really isn't a bad thing at all. Dora and friends have to race against evil doers to protect an ancient city filled with gold and there's "jungle puzzles" as they are referred to in this movie that need to be solved with the ultimate test being very similar to The Last Crusade. We learn the same lessons that Dr. Jones lived by like not chasing fortune and glory while always looking to preserve history and culture.

One thing I love about the Dora franchise is its emphasis on culture, diversity, and acceptance all of which is on full display here. Dora and her cousin Diego even struggle with the notion of what it means to be cool and the value of perception and labeling within the high school social structure. There is a big emphasis on how Dora's jungle upbringing and home school education has left her unaffected by colonial values that give weight to race, class, and other artificial social constructs. She loves everyone and everything equally and truly believes that all people are essentially good at their core. This is super important for kids to see as an example of how ti live versus what the propaganda machines we call media install into people's brains on a daily basis.

If there's one thing I'm going to pick on with this movie, I have to say it is the choice to cast Michael Peña as Dora's father. Don't get my wrong, I think he is a great actor and a really funny person so he actually fits the character perfectly, I'm just tired of Hollywood picking him every single time to play the Mexican guy in all the movies. There are so many Mexican actors that could be filling these roles, but Peña is a very safe and proven commodity so he gets to benefit from Hollywood's lack of courage. Again, small gripe and not his fault, I just feel it needs to be noted.

If you are a parent, take your kid(s) to see Dora and the Lost City of Gold immediately. They will love it, you will love it, and the positive messaging is something we really need right now. If you are not a parent, go see it anyway, you will still have a great time.

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