Dora and the Lost City of Gold

 

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Keeping up with the Indiana Joneses has never felt so painful and inane.

 

Dora and the Lost City of Gold

Isabela Moner and her beloved monkey Boots

 

Be warned: Dora and the Lost City of Gold is not a film for all the family. It’s only for the very youngest members of the cinemagoing public. The multiplex is awash with cartoons at the moment and this is another one, albeit with live actors. With much of the action filmed in studio-built jungles, the tone is artificial and as broad as a barn door. Besides, there’s an animated fox in a Dick Turpin mask and a CGI monkey with the year’s most disturbing face. Children, though, will know what to expect, as the film is adapted from Nickelodeon’s cartoon TV series Dora the Explorer featuring the intrepid Latino adventurer of the title with a talking backpack.

 

Here, Dora, now sixteen (Isabela Moner), is sent off by her parents (Michael Peña, Eva Longoria) to another jungle – high school in Los Angeles. With no social skills to talk of, she determines to be herself and greets everybody she meets and sings silly songs to herself as she goes about her day. Of course, she is instantly branded the class weirdo and Dora has to learn to grow up fast, although her knowledge of Herman Melville’s subtext of Moby-Dick astonishes her English teacher, as well as her fellow students. Then, on a day trip to a museum, she, her cousin Diego (Jeff Wahlberg) and two other pupils are kidnapped by mercenaries and airlifted to the Peruvian rainforest…

 

The skin-crawling cheerfulness of Dora is embodied with unabashed enthusiasm by Isabela Moner, the child actress who made her mark in Transformers: The Last Knight, Sicario 2: Soldado and Instant Family. It’s a testament to the 17-year-old’s commitment that she throws herself so wholeheartedly into Dora’s ingenuousness, dispelling the world-weary cynicism that the actress has previously displayed so adeptly. The grown-ups fare less well, with Michael Peña giving the most embarrassing performance of his career in several misjudged attempts at broad comedy (such as when he attempts to imitate the electronic beat of a rave dance). Actually, there’s nothing subtle about this pantomimic farce, in which characters literally utter such ejaculations as “Oops!” and “Huh?”

 

No doubt if you’re three-years-old, you might tap into the lunacy of it all, but for those with a more mature outlook, the experience will be nigh short of excruciating.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Isabela Moner, Eugenio Derbez, Michael Peña, Eva Longoria, Adriana Barraza, Temuera Morrison, Jeff Wahlberg, Nicholas Coombe, Madeleine Madden, Pia Miller, Q'orianka Kilcher, Isela Vega, Madelyn Miranda, Malachi Barton, Christopher Kirby; and the voices of Danny Trejo and Benicio Del Toro.

 

Dir James Bobin, Pro Kristin Burr, Screenplay Nicholas Stoller and Matthew Robinson, Ph Javier Aguirresarobe, Pro Des Dan Hennah, Ed Mark Everson, Music John Debney and Germaine Franco, Costumes Rahel Afiley.

 

Paramount Players/Nickelodeon Movies/Walden Media/Media Rights Capital/Burr! Productions-Paramount Pictures.

102 mins. USA/Australia. 2019. Rel: 16 August 2019. Cert. PG.