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August 16, 2019

Dora and The Lost City of Gold (2019) --- Explorer Is Her Middle Name.

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Hello, Movie Buffs!
     Young teenage Dora (Isabela Moner) has spent her childhood growing up in the jungle along with her parents Cole (Michael Pena) and Elena (Eva Longoria). But when her parents go on an exploration to find a lost Incan civilization, Dora is sent to live with her cousin Diego (Jeff Wahlberg) in the city where she must learn to survive a harsh and unforgiving new environment… high school. After a series of events leads to being kidnapped by mercenaries, it is up to Dora to help her friends (Wahlberg, Nicholas Coombe, and Madeleine Madden) survive the jungle, find her lost parents, and perhaps even solve the mystery behind the legendary City of Gold. Can Dora and her friends find the Lost City of Gold? Or will they fall prey to its many traps?

     Directed by James Bobin (The Muppets, Muppets: Most Wanted), written by Matthew Robinson (The Invention of Lying, Monster Truck) and Nicholas Stoller (The Muppets, Muppets: Most Wanted), and based off the TV series by Chris Gifford, Dora and the Lost City of Gold (2019) is a delightful, heartfelt, and humorous film about a young girl who is gleefully self-aware, unapologetically bizarre, and overly enthusiastic. It is sort of a Tomb Raider meets Indian Jones-type adventure but it never loses sight of the spirit of this familiar hero. Of course, it is not by any means a timeless classic but it is a thorough tribute to an iconic character that has touched the lives of young audience members since the moment she first arrived on TV in 2000. 
     The story is cleverly written with a number of jokes inserted throughout to keep the laughs going. The writers were able to craft a story that falls in line with the educational tone of the original animated series but without all the clunky parts that only appeal to kids. And aside from staying true to the original show, this film also manages to forge its own path through the jungle by taking the story to a whole other level. Although, I did think that the story could have been even better if the writers had chosen to tell a story where Dora has to use her jungle knowledge to survive the city. 
 The cast performances are a little awkward but no less heartfelt. Isabela Moner (Instant Family, Transformers: The Last Knight) as Dora is charming, cute, and she has unflappably sunny demeanor no matter the scenario. Her performance is the perfect combination of wide-eyed innocence and savvy know-how, similarly to Amy Adams (Arrival) delightful work in Enchanted (2007). Eva Longoria (Dog Days) and Michael Peña (CHiPS) are amusing as Dora’s parents and deliver ample jokes despite the on-screen threats they are faced with. Jeff Wahlberg (Don’t Come Back from the Moon) as Diego tries to be the cool, mister macho man but really he misses all the fun adventures he had with Dora. Madeleine Madden (Picnic at Hanging Rock) as Sammy, the bossy queen bee who feels threatened by Dora, has a number of annoying moments and Nicholas Coombe (Netflix’s Spy Kids: Mission Critical) as Randy, the self-deprecating nerd who’s enamored of them, is a bit annoying but by the end they both clean up nicely. Eugenio Derbez (Overboard, How to Be a Latin Lover) provides comic relief as the hapless would-be adventurer Alejandro, understands how to stay within the boundaries of being in a kid film but also manages to entertain adults. The rest of the cast provide great minor roles that help fill in the rest of the story. 
     Overall, Dora and the Lost City of Gold (2019) is an entertaining and humorous film that will amuse both kids and adults. The story was adventurous and fun, and there is enough humor to insight laughs from both kids and adults. However, I do believe that it would have been even better if the story followed Dora trying to use her jungle skills to navigate the city. The cast performances are solid and each character delivers what was required of him or her. All in all, this is still an entertaining film to watch and turned out to be much better than I expected. 

Final Vote --- 7 of 10 stars

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