Dora and the Lost City of Gold Parent Guide
Kidnapping, booby-trapped ruins, impaled skulls, hallucinogenic flowers - this isn't the Dora your preschooler loves to watch.
Parent Movie Review
If you’re over the age of six, you might not have much appreciation for Dora the Explorer, the cute cartoon heroine of the Nickelodeon animated series that bears her name. But after dragging yourself through the hundred and two minute runtime of Dora and the Lost City of Gold, you may find yourself longing for the old Dora.
In this live-action adaptation, the perky preschooler of television fame only graces the screen for a few minutes as we’re filled in on Dora’s adventurous upbringing in the Peruvian jungle. But soon, we’re introduced to teenage Dora, (Isabela Moner) whose idyllic lifestyle amongst the flora and fauna is brought to an abrupt halt when her parents announce that they’re off to investigate Inca ruins in the wilds and she’s not invited. Instead, she’s being shipped off to the big city to live with her cousin Diego (Jeff Wahlberg.)
Any homeschooled kid from a different culture would have a rough go in a crowded high school, but Dora’s even more a fish out of water. With her memorized assortment of encyclopedic facts, the fashion sense and social abilities of a six year old, and an annoying habit of bursting into song - it’s no wonder Diego doesn’t want to be seen with her. She also earns the ire of Sammy, (Madeleine Madden) the smartest kid in school, when she unwittingly outdoes her in every subject. Pretty soon, the only person who can stand her is Randy, (Nicholas Coombe) a stereotypical nerd who’s equally clueless.
Unfortunately, a class field-trip ends in all four kids being drugged, kidnapped, and dumped in remotest Peru. With the help of a klutzy professor, (Eugenio Derbez) they escape their captors and venture into the jungle in search of Dora’s missing parents.
What follows should be a fun adventure story, or, at the very least, a heartwarming lesson in friendship and teamwork. Instead, it’s a hodgepodge of childish jokes, slapstick antics, and legitimately perilous situations that left me wondering what age group the filmmakers had in mind when they put the thing together. Characters sing songs about poop and giggle at the sound of flatulence in one scene and are almost crushed/drowned/shot in the next as they face off against hostile natives and booby-trapped temples straight out of Indiana Jones. Meanwhile, cameos from the cartoon make an appearance in a trippy animated segment, (brought on by hallucinogenic flower spores,) while others interact with human characters in the form of slightly creepy CGI creations. No one seems at all perplexed when they’re helped out by a sentient blue and yellow monkey, but they scoff at the idea that the animal can communicate with Dora. What’s the logic here?
None of this is helped by other unnecessary content, including the occasional remark about animal and human mating rituals, or one character’s drug induced disregard for clothing, (animated male buttocks are seen.) If this doesn’t feel like a betrayal of the source material, the film’s portrayal of indigenous culture might. The Inca in this story are pure fabrication—an insensitive and disappointing choice on the part of the filmmakers. After all, the original Dora the Explorer show was both educational and a celebration of Latino language and culture.
When things finally concluded in a celebratory musical number, I felt like singing along with the words, “Lo hicimos! We did it!” Just reaching the end of this movie felt like an accomplishment.Directed by James Bobin. Starring Isabela Moner, Benicio Del Toro, and Michael Peña. Running time: 102 minutes. Theatrical release August 9, 2019. Updated April 6, 2020
Watch the trailer for Dora and the Lost City of Gold
Dora and the Lost City of Gold
Rating & Content Info
Why is Dora and the Lost City of Gold rated PG? Dora and the Lost City of Gold is rated PG by the MPAA for action and some impolite humor
Violence: Characters are drugged, stuffed in crates, kidnapped, tied up, and threatened with weapons. Ancient ruins are booby-trapped with spikes, spears, and flooded chambers. Skulls are seen impaled on spikes, bugs crawl out of crevices, and trap doors lead to pits and lava. Characters are trapped in quicksand, poisoned with flower spores or poison-dart frogs, knocked out, shot at with arrows, fall off cliffs or tumble down mountainsides. No fatalities result. In a high school setting, characters are teased and shoved by bullies.
Sexual Content: Characters remark that survival situations can speed the mating process, and one character informs another that if they’re not rescued from being lost in the wilderness, they should start a family. A character provides a commentary on the mating behaviour of scorpions. During an animated sequence, one character strips off his clothes and runs around naked—his bare backside is shown.
Profanity: Mild name-calling and scatological terms.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Characters are drugged with gas before being kidnapped. Later, a field of poisonous flowers results in a lengthy hallucinogenic animated sequence.
Page last updated April 6, 2020
Dora and the Lost City of Gold Parents' Guide
During her journey, Dora learns that it’s better to face hardships with the help of friends instead of trying to solve every problem alone. In what ways have your friends or family helped you overcome difficulties? How can you offer the same help to other people?
The original Dora the Explorer cartoon celebrated Dora’s Latin American heritage by teaching words and phrases in Spanish. What cultures are part of your family tree? Do you have any traditions that have been passed down from your ancestors? How can you learn more about the places they came from?
Loved this movie? Try these books…
Preschool fans of Dora are better suited to her less dangerous adventures. Tuck them in with A Fairytale Adventure (Dora the Explorer) by Mary Tillworth and Mike Jackson.
Kids who love this film will want to read Steve Behling’s Dora and the Lost City of Gold.
Looking for more adventure books for kids? Check out Mary Pope Osborne’s Tigers at Twilight, book 19 of her Magic Treehouse series.
Dora isn’t the only protagonist who relies on a map. In The Map to Everywhere, Fin and Marrill must work together to find a pirate map. Written by Carrie Ryan and John Parke Davis.
The most recent home video release of Dora and the Lost City of Gold movie is November 19, 2019. Here are some details…
Related home video titles:
If you’re looking for more kids’ adventure movies, you can start with Swallows and Amazons. This lovely English movie has kids sailing, camping out on an island, and matching wits with spies.
For faster-moving adventure, check out Adventures of Tintin. This movie follows the adventures of a cub reporter seeking a sailing ship and lost treasure.
For swashbuckling adventure suitable for even young children, make some popcorn and settle down to watch Muppet Treasure Island. Fun for adults and kids.