DORA AND THE LOST CITY OF GOLD / CERT: PG / DIRECTOR: JAMES BOBIN / SCREENPLAY: MATTHEW ROBINSON, NICHOLAS STOLLER / STARRING: ISABELA MONER, JEFF WAHLBERG, MICHAEL PENA, EVA LONGORIA / RELEASE DATE: DECEMBER 9TH
Yes, we know what you're thinking, but did you see the trailer? This live-action movie based on the popular Nickelodeon young children's cartoon is not the Dora you remember.
Dora (Moner) has now grown up into a 16-year-old and moves to the city with her cousin, Diego (Wahlberg), while her parents go off in search of the hidden city of Parapata. A typical fish out of water scenario ensues as the home/jungle-schooled Dora tries to get to grips with 21st century school politics.
However, on a school trip to the museum, Dora, Diego, and a couple of other students get kidnapped and taken to the jungle to try and track her parents (Longoria and Pena). Dora suddenly realises that she doesn't know everything about the jungle and the dangers within. Fortunately, the group of kids are ably assisted by a friend of her parents, Alejandro, and the good old favourite Boots the monkey.
Of course, they are being tracked by the kidnappers, who want the riches promised within Parapata, and our adventurers arrive, solving jungle traps along the way, to find the treasure.
The Dora movie is a completely clean bit of family entertainment without falling into the trap of becoming blandly saccharine. It wisely takes its beats from its trailblazing forefather, Indiana Jones, but tones down many of the more perilous moments so as not to frighten the core target audience.
There are gentle nods to the source cartoon, including Dora breaking the fourth wall, only to be met with derision by other characters for doing so, and a moment of mirth when Dora, Diego and Alejandro inhale some spore from a plant that makes them hallucinate to the point where they turn into their animated counterparts. The film even ends with a musical number that had this reviewer’s 8-year-old daughter jiggling around the lounge, much to my amusement.
Yes, the characters struggle to move beyond cliché or even past being one dimensional, but there is enough on show here to entertain everyone. If you really wanted to pick a hole in the film, you could point to the fact that the CGI is quite weak, with Boots and Swiper the fox clearly standing out as fake when compared to similar animals in other films - just look at Paddington for example - but you have to remember that this is not a movie that is gunning for realism.
Perhaps you can introduce your kids to this bit of harmless fluff and then introduce them to Uncle Indy afterwards.
We've all got to start somewhere, right?