By Jess Fenton
6th September 2019

Hola! Me llamo Jessica... um... porqué no los dos? Okay, okay, so that last one is from the Old El Paso commercial. So sue me! I’m in my 30s. I wasn’t lucky enough to grow up with Dora, Diego and the whole gang. D-D-D-D-D-Dora was someone I only ever came across early in the morning waiting for breakfast television to start at my sister’s house where the kids would be glued to the screen, in a Royal Easter Show showbag, or staring at me from some kid’s backpack. But as it turns out, even now I still don’t know who she is. As our dear Dora makes her way to the big screen, she’s no longer that loveable seven-year-old Latina girl - she’s now a 16-year-old Latina woman who’s struggling to find her feet and place in a strange new environment: high school.

As a six-year-old living in a Central American jungle with her explorer parents (Eva Longoria, TV's ‘Desperate Housewives’, and Michael Peña, ‘Ant-Man’) and cousin Diego, Dora loves to go on imaginary adventures with her cousin and monkey pal Boots. She also loves to talk directly to the "camera" and teach those "watching" how to speak Spanish; a phase her parents swear she’ll grow out of. So when Diego moves to the city to be with his parents, the two thick-as-thieves cousins eventually grow apart. The now 16-year-old Dora (Isabela Moner, ‘Instant Family’) grows up to speak to an actual camera she takes with her on her real adventures. But her repeated mishaps and scrapes leave her parents with no other choice but to send her to the city while they go in search of the ancient city of Parapata - the Lost City of Gold. Once in Los Angeles and in a regular high school, Dora and Diego (Jeff Wahlberg, ‘Future World’) don’t exactly pick up where they left off. Dora is seen as the school weirdo and she quickly makes an enemy of Sammy (Madeleine Madden, TV's ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’) who perceives Dora to be a scholastic rival. On a school field trip one day, Dora, Diego, Sammy and fellow schoolmate Randy (Nicholas Coombe, ‘Midnight Sun’) are kidnapped by a group also looking for Parapata. Luckily, a friend of Dora’s parents Alejandro (Eugenia Derbez, ‘Overboard’) rescues them, and the adventure to find mum and dad and the Lost City of Gold first is away!


The nostalgia factor is huge in Hollywood at the moment with the return in recent years of ‘Full House’, ‘Will & Grace’, ‘90210’ and 'Veronica Mars’, but to now reach out to those still in their teens seems a little premature. Dora is no longer appealing to those just learning their numbers, ABCs and asking to count stones and shrubs - this is a full-blown ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’ adventure compete with life or death puzzles, ancient history, a fox in a mask, good guys, bad guys, and a hint of magic and mysticism. Not to say that this is a bad thing. ‘Dora and the Lost City of Gold’ is great. Yeah, I was surprised as well. It’s cute and fun, exciting and with plenty of self-deprecating humour and Latin flavour. For those whose movie-going companion is of pre-school age, you may have to read the occasional subtitle to them, although my kids seemed perfectly content without knowing what was being said. The power of a visual medium, I guess.

It’s cute and fun, exciting and with plenty of self-deprecating humour and Latin flavour.

This is legit Indiana Jones/Tomb Raider/National Treasure for kids - nothing and no-one is sexualised and there’s no violence, aside from the slapstick kind. Plus the humour is fantastic and friendly, and the film even pokes fun at the original TV show in a really great way. Everything is vibrant and exciting, and who doesn’t love a monkey sidekick and a thieving fox? Dora is annoyingly positive every step of the way (don’t worry, it’s a thing) and she sings about everything from her backpack to pooping (don’t be alarmed, I swear it’s still a thing). ’Dora’ also boasts great messages about fitting in and being yourself as only a teenager still rocking the same haircut, pink t-shirt and orange shorts can do.

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