DORA THE EXPLORER

The live-action movie is an advernterous twist on the original animation, but still keeps several elements from the beloved Nickelodeon show. 

For almost 20 years, Nickelodeon has taken kids on adventures with the popular show, “Dora the Explorer.” On Friday, Paramount Pictures brought the beloved characters to theaters in a live-action movie experience.

At six years old, all Dora (Isabela Moner) knew was the excitement of exploring the jungle with her cousin, Diego. Suddenly, Diego and his parents move to America and Dora stays behind in the jungle with her parents. Ten years go by, and Dora finally moves to America with her aunt, uncle, grandmother and cousin, while her mom and dad search for a lost city made of gold. While they’re off trying to find it, she tries to survive in an American high school and has trouble fitting in. On a class trip to a museum, Dora, Diego and two of their classmates get kidnapped and are taken back to the jungle. There, she finds out her parents are in danger and she has to find the lost city before it’s too late to save them.

Prior to seeing this movie, people might go in with the idea of the storyline being another innocent Dora adventure since the animated show is aired on Nick Jr., but that isn’t the case. The movie is action-packed and more intense than what viewers might’ve been expecting. It has less of a “Dora the Explorer” storyline and more of an “Indiana Jones” type of plot. While the cartoon version is simple with small interactions in the jungle setting, the movie is filmed in an actual jungle and involves traps, dangerous obstacles, bad guys trying to capture Dora and other things such as using weapons and hinting at mild profanity which the TV show wouldn’t portray. For example, the people who are after Dora and friends corner them and threatened them with pistols. 

The producers still added references to the original show. They kept the main characters, Dora’s bubbly and kind personality and Spanish-speaking characters.

There are moments that make it seem like the producers were making fun of the TV show. Early in the movie when Dora was little and eating dinner, she looks into the camera and asks, “Can you say ‘delicioso?’” Her parents glance at each other, and her dad assures her mom that “she’ll grow out of it.” Another example is on her first day of high school when the security guard confiscates most of Dora’s survival equipment from her backpack.

While watching the movie, one will notice that the writers also added scenes that are parallel to other famous movies. At one point, Dora and Diego encounter a field of flowers that makes them hallucinate with a single sniff. This scene may remind viewers of the magical poppies in “The Wizard of Oz” that put Dorothy and the Lion to sleep in seconds. Another movie that comes to mind is “National Treasure: Book of Secrets.” Just like Ben Gates and his friends, Dora and her friends get trapped in a small room with water pouring in and have to use a giant wheel to open a drain. Another familiar scene is when Dora has to wisely choose the item that goes into a statue’s hands so she can pass through a wall, which is similar to when Indiana Jones has to choose the correct cup from which he has to drink in “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.”  

There were some stand-out aspects, both positive and negative. Even though he has a major role in the show, Swiper had no real foundation in this movie, so it was almost unnecessary for him to be in the film. An uplifting element was the diversity in Diego and Dora’s high school. There were kids of many ethnicities, races and even some with special needs, much like any other high school in America.

“Dora and the Lost City of Gold” is unlike what many people may have expected. While it’s probably not going to be an award-winning movie, it’s still fun and has many action-packed moments. The film is nostalgic for those who watched Dora as a kid and teaches its audience the importance of bravery and kindness while being fairly entertaining in the process.

Contact Gracie Brogowski at brogowsx@dukes.jmu.edu. For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter @Breeze_Culture.