Having spent most of her life exploring the jungle with her parents, nothing could prepare Dora for her most dangerous adventure ever: high school. Always the explorer, Dora quickly finds herself leading Boots, Diego, a mysterious jungle inhabitant, and a ragtag group of teens on a live-action adventure to save her parents and solve the impossible mystery behind a lost Inca civilization.Written by
A fun summer adventure film for kids that's also fun for adults.
The Plot is a wholly ridiculous story ripped from multiple Tarzan movies of the 40's and 50's. But go with it.
Six-year old Dora (Madelyn Miranda) and Diego (Malachi Barton) are having fun growing up in the jungle with their academic parents. (At least, you assume Diego's parents are there somewhere... this is all very vague!). Dora's parents - Cole (Michael Peña) and Elena (Eva Longoria) - are explorers on a lifelong mission to discover the lost Inca city of Parapata. Parapata is famed to be crammed with gold - "more than all the rest of the world's gold put together".
But Dad makes clear that they are not in it for the financial benefit: the motto is explorers = good; treasure hunters = bad.
But Dora's idyllic childhood is rocked when Diego has to return to civilization and she has to grow up alone with her parents.
Roll forwards 10 years and Dora has grown. Now as Isabela Moner, she discovers a vital clue to Parapata's location. But this signals a change for Dora, since she is not allowed on the expedition and must go to a far wilder place: to join Diego, now Jeff Wahlberg (nephew of Mark) in an LA high-school.
But Mum and Dad are not the only ones on the trail of Parapata's treasures, and together with new friends, the spiky "mean-girl" Sammy (Madeleine Madden) and the nerdy astronomy geek Randy (Nicholas Coombe), they must mount a rescue mission that takes them.... you'll NEVER guess where..!
The film is a blast for kids, and probably suitable for emotionally robust kids of all ages. Nobody actually dies, despite falling unfathomably long distances onto rocks! However, the film also pulls off that great and welcome trick by dropping in enough jokes for parents to be entertained. "Yumm... delicioso!" says young Dora. Then breaking the fourth wall "Can YOU say delicioso?". Fleabag-style this confuses the hell out of Mum and Dad. Cole says to Elena, "Don't worry... she'll grow out of it". And fortunately, she does before the joke becomes tiresome!
There's no warning about drug-taking, since the hallucinogenic scene with exploding flowers will go right over young kid's heads. But I found it very amusing!
There are also some fun "fish out of water" high school scenes. We've seen many of these before with the likes of Spider-Man, but here they are light-touch and fun.
When things get back into the jungle, they take on a much whackier angle. It's all very "Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull", but without the crushing disappointment! But again, kids will love the puzzle-solving and the "Mummy-ish" gothic humour. The only part of this that I think might disturb young kids is a quicksand scene, that parents might like to pre-warn youngsters that everything will work out fine!
Holding the whole film together like a little Duracell Bunny of vitality is 18-year old Isabela Moner, who is a genuine talent, honed in the Nickelodeon studios. She was impressive in the above average "Instant Family", and I predict she will go onto great things over the next 10 years.
Elsewhere, a "Pointless" answer from the cast is Benicio del Toro as the voice of "Swiper", a bizarrely talking and poorly-disguised fox! This probably makes more sense to those who know the original kid's cartoon!
Even more annoying is Dora's (strangely multi-coloured) monkey Boots... the Jar Jar Binks of the film, who might amuse very young children but probably not many other folks.
Final Thoughts: Here's a film that is not trying to be anything other than a fun and much needed summer outing for families. Disney used to do this sort of live-action family film thing so well in the 70's and 80's, before they got obsessed with pointless recreations of their cartoon classics.
The director is James Bobin, who's formerly directed a number of the Muppet movies, and this movie breathes with the same sense of anarchic fun without being too up itself.
The film occasionally makes you cringe, with some dreadfully (and deliberately) naff songs, but I enjoyed it and for the right audience (kids 8 to 12) I think they'll have a blast.
(For the full graphical review, please check out One Mann's Movies on this new-fangled internet thing, or else on Facebook... whatever the earth that is. Thanks).
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