Cinematic Releases: A Family Treasure: Dora and the Lost City of Gold (2019) - Reviewed

20 years after the premiere of the cartoon, Dora finally swings into adventure with a live action film that sees her trying to adjust to modern city life then going on the greatest jungle traipsing exploration of her life, a mild self parodying journey that's nothing like you'd expect. If you thought this was going to be the next 21 Jump Street, Dukes of Hazzard or Starsky and Hutch, please think again. Director James Bobin's feature film does rely heavily on comedy but is centrally focused on a well planned, but 100 percent escapist story that's high on creativity and action. Dora and the Lost City of Gold is a soul searching ninety minutes that sees a great modern representation of the character that's full of heart and is absolutely family friendly. 

When Dora's parents go missing on an exploration of the jungle, the teenage explorer, her cousin Diego, and a pair of socially inept high schoolers are pitted against the rain forest and a band of baddies including the notorious fox, Swiper. Armed with Dora's epic backpack, a charismatic monkey, her excellent spirit, and just enough humor to keep the adult's entertained, The Lost City of Gold is reminiscent of earlier cinematic times when Raiders of the Lost Ark or The Goonies kept us entertained. Whenever this movie seems to get a little dark, Dora's smile and hyper intelligence are there to save the day, giving a sharp balance to a movie that's both humorous and adventurous. Also, the central focus on the importance of education is a well played plot point when we live in an era of muscle bound, male focused hero worship like Hobbs & Shaw. Dora is whip smart, ultra cultured, and knows how to use her brain to get out of any situation. For little boys and girls, the message is one missing from so many films these days. 

I love you, monkey.

Using the base concept of the television show mixed with many thematic elements from Indiana Jones, Allan Quatermain and various other classic stories about seeking a hidden treasure against the odds, Dora and the Lost City of Gold is one of the funnest movies of the summer. And it's one of the best family oriented stories of the year. Despite a few potty jokes that might go over the little one's heads, the idea of sending a post-pubescent Dora to the big city works better than anyone could have ever imagined. Her innocent personality balanced against the jaded construct of high school kids satirizes both our current world and Dora's animated show on Nickelodeon. With her cousin Diego trying to fit in with the cool kids at school, there's a nice story here about staying true to yourself. 

Young children will love the way (the adorable) Boots plays into the story as Swiper continues his usual antics of swiping anything in arm's reach. Honestly, adults will have a riot with the movie too. In a summer season that's been blown out by sequels, continuations, spin-offs, and huge budgeted flops, Dora is the answer. We typically hate to emphasize this term. But, The Lost City of Gold is big FUN. It's a call back to a time when you left predisposed opinions at the door and went into the theater with an open mind. It's been a long time since a movie like this stuck the landing. In all honesty, there is nothing not to love here. 

This is a tree. Can you say TREE?

With all that said, this film certainly rests on the shoulders of its main star, Isabela Moner. Relying on a phenomenal support cast that includes Michael Pena and Eva Longoria as her parents, Moner captures the essence of Dora with sheer ease. Getting the vocal inflections and the overall character down pat, she shines from beginning to end. She has perfected comedic timing as well as an emotional palette that cuts right through the silliness at hand. If not for her ability to lead the charge, this movie may have failed under a less capable talent. 

So, if you're looking to experience your childhood again or if you want to enjoy a night out with your family, this is definitely the one to check out in the final month of the summer release season. Despite a few small missteps in the writing process, Dora and the Lost City of Gold is a sure fire win for everyone involved. I'll be seeing this one again. And I'll be waiting for the sequel. Moner is a star and Dora rules the school!!!!