Movie Review: Dora and the Lost City of Gold (2019)

Synopsis: After spending most of her life living in and exploring the Peruvian jungle with her parents, Dora stumbles upon a clue that reveals the location of the lost city of Parapata, which is believed to have more gold than the rest of the world combined. However, because she nearly injured herself in the process, her parents decide to continue the exploration without her and, instead, send her to live with her cousin, Diego's, family in Los Angeles. Having never been around other teenagers, she immediately struggles to fit in and even Diego is embarrassed to be seen with her. Things take a turn for the worse when her, Diego and two of their classmates are kidnapped while on a field trip and transported back to Peru. They escape their captors with the help of a family friend but must find the lost city and her parents before the mercenaries do.

Review: This movie made my Netflix list right around the same time it was still showing at movie theaters, mostly because both of my daughters loved this cartoon when they were younger and, quite frankly, it was probably one of the least-annoying shows they've ever been hooked on (though my oldest daughter insisted on playing Dora's Fairy Tale Adventure on a loop). I was somewhat intrigued what a live-action, fish-out-of-water Dora movie would be like and, after finally having a chance to watch it with the kids, I wasn't disappointed.

I think the thing that really stood out for me when watching this movie was the way it managed to tie in the cartoon version of Dora by playing it off as a young girl's imagination. The idea a young girl would pretend to talk to her pet monkey and act like she is hosting an educational television show because she's lonely and/or bored is believable. And, while her transition to high school life did seem like something out of about a hundred similar movies, it was easy to understand how she would be somewhat oblivious to other people's reactions to her being herself.

Of course, one thing that did manage to surprise me a bit when it came to that fish-out-of-water story was the way not everyone seemed to hate her, as is often the case in films like this. Sure, most of the school seemed to think she was weird. But, she also still managed to make friends without changing anything about herself. Who knows, if it didn't have a kidnapping plot, the film could have been halfway decent just by focusing on her winning over the crowd.

The scenes with Dora (Merced) and her friends in the jungle had their moments though, admittedly, they were also a bit predictable, especially when it came to the "surprise" twist involving Alejandro (Derbez) even my youngest daughter predicted the minute he was introduced. I think the parts with Dora trying to make things better with a song, such as when her classmate, Sammy (Madden), had to take care of some business behind a rock was kind of cute and, once again, was a nice tie-in with the cartoon.

My only real complaint about the film is I feel like it kind of lost some direction as it progressed. In the beginning, the movie was somewhat believable. By the end, it was a bit like the writers were high on something. This includes a bizarre animated sequence and the introduction of magic (which, up until that point, hadn't even been mentioned as a possibility) that just didn't seem to fit the first half of the movie. In fact, it was all so strange, I half expected a surprise twist involving Dora waking up from a long dream after her fall early in the movie. Actually, the more I think about it, that would have made a lot more sense.

Final Opinion: The ending needed some work. But, overall, I did find I liked this movie and would recommend it.

My Grade: B


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