I remember my son watching the Nickelodeon cartoon Dora the Explorer and that show got old quickly. I may or may not have wanted to close my head in the freezer after the thousandth time I heard “Swiper! No swiping!” Thankfully, he has moved on to other shows like Phineas and Ferb, which is a much more entertaining show (though far less educational than Dora). When I asked if he wanted to go see Dora and the Lost City of Gold, he surprised me with a very enthusiastic yes.
For the last live-action kid movie – The Kid Who Would be King – I gave you a full review from my perspective. Despite the movie obviously being aimed at children, I felt like a King Arthur story deserved my full thoughts. With Dora and the Lost City of Gold? Not so much. In a short, this new Dora movie is another example of a kid movie treating kids as if they still have a vocabulary of mom, no, and baw-baw. It is filled with classic examples of bad screen writing, from setups that never come back around, useless characters (two of Dora’s adventure companions in the film), forced romance (seriously), dumbass bad guys, half-baked rip-offs (Indiana Jones and Tomb Raider), and things that don’t make sense, even in a fantastical kid’s movie. They even managed to make a MacGuffin out of The Map, which is actual character in the cartoon. Don’t take it from me; take it from my son.
Okay Nick, I need you to pause the ipad. …Nick. …Nicholas.
Hang on, I need to do one thing.
…You ready? What’s the movie we saw today?
Dora and the Lost City of Gold.
Do you remember the last time you watched Dora on TV?
Did you know any of the characters when the movie started?
Any of her friends?
So this was like learning about Dora all over again for you?
But exceeeeeept…she’s in high school now.
So she was a little kid before?
And what does Dora do?
She’s a super-cool exploradora?
And what she does is try to avoid traps in the jungle.
Does that happen early in the move?
It kinda happens in the middle. Mmm…yeah, middle. It’s about Dora trying to find the lost city of gold.
Are you sure?
Are you sure she wasn’t trying to find her parents?
She was trying to find her parents. So she went to the lost city of gold to find her parents.
Is her high school in the jungle?
No…that’s where her house is. And she just drives to the bus stop and the school bus takes them to the school. And that’s how they go to school.
So who are her friends in the movie?
I don’t know most of their names. I don’t remember them.
Dora sings a lot. What are the things that Dora sings about?
She sang about poop. She sang about weird stuff, but not very much. She said “Hi I’m Dora! And I’m being chased by pygmy elephants!”
Tell me about her friends. Were any of them helpful?
Dora was doing most of all the work. Because she’s the main character. But also her best non-animal friend was…*long pause*
Did they use a map to find the lost city? Like in the cartoon when the map talks?
No. Well…at least part of the movie turned into a cartoon. In a flower field. One of them touched a flower, and it shooted out poison baby powder. It was like a dream.
After we left the movie, you said something about gravity. What did you mean?
The bad guy, when he was in the quicksand – which is a liquid, like, how was it not falling? Gravity exists!
(Side note: I swear to you I did not plant that idea in his head, and I could not have been more proud when he said it.)
So he should have fallen through it?
Do you think it’s okay that gravity stopped working for a while in a movie that they turned into cartoons?
Yeah. Because you can build machines that turn gravity into fiction.
What was your favorite part of the movie?
The traps in the jungle. And how they escaped all of them.
Do you know who Indiana Jones is?
It’s a movie.
Have you ever seen it?
I’ve heard the music before. On my iPad.
What do you think kids will like most about the movie?
What do you think they’ll not like about the movie?
Well of course they’re gonna like the poop song.
Is that the best part of the movie?
What’s the best part?
The best part is the gold. But in real life, it was fiction gold. In REAL LIFE, not in Dora life.
Does the movie make you want to explore?
It makes me not want to go near traps.
Or farting quicksand?
Well, farting quicksand is pretty funny…but it’s disgusting. And what if it actually smelled?
Rating: Do you think people should pay $20 for this movie?
I think it’s more.
Because they put all that gold there. If it’s real gold. Or maybe it’s just computers. …Fiction.