Nickelodeon’s “Dora the Explorer” has burst upon our movie screens in an adventure worthy of Indiana Jones. Dora (Isabella Moner) is now 16, but having been raised and tutored by her professor parents, Cole and Elena (Michael Pena and Eva Longoria), Dora is academically brilliant but socially naïve as she explores the jungle talking to the orange poison frog, singing her morning song and wearing her trusty backpack.
But all this is about to change, Dora’s parents have been seeking the Incan City of Gold, Parapata. The giant map on their tropical hacienda wall is covered with strings marking the paths of their explorations. One morning, Dora and her monkey, Boots, stumble across a rock slide that has unearthed a new cave in the jungle. Entering, Dora finds Incan hieroglyphics on the walls and returns home to look them up and tell her parents. She is surprised to discover that the writings are ancient Incan and that her parents have already found them and are planning an expedition to follow them to Parapata. Excited, Dora can’t wait to be off with her parents, but she is shocked to discover that she will not be going along but instead is being sent to the city to live with her aunt and uncle and cousin Diego (Jeff Wahlberg).
In a heart-to-heart, Mother tells Dora it is time she meets other teenagers and makes friends outside the jungle. Diego, her childhood best friend, will be there to help her. Her parents give her a satellite phone so they can keep in touch and Dora boards a plane without Boots, who has tried to stow away in her backpack.
Arriving, Dora greets everyone hustling and bustling through the airport with a sunny smile, introducing herself and trying to make friends. Her aunt and uncle are waiting with a sign, but Diego is mortified when Dora hugs him in public. Clearly Diego has matured into a typical teen while Dora has remained in her 6-year-old world of innocence. Dora may have left the real jungle, but the “jungle” of high school is all too real.
Dora befriends science nerd Randy (Nicholas Coombe), at the lockers and discusses astronomy with him because the picture on his T-shirt is not exactly accurate. The class “mean girl,” Sammy (Madeleine Madden), is annoyed when Dora knows more about the rainforest than she does and can quote Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick” in English class. Dora seems oblivious to the side eye from classmates and chuckling behind her back. Slowly, things begin to change and Diego becomes distant at school in front of his friends. Dora is homesick for the jungle and has lost contact with her parents. They have been incommunicado for over two weeks. Have they found Parapata? Are they lost in the jungle?
On a field trip to the Natural History Museum, Dora, Diego, Randy and Sammy are partnered on a scavenger hunt for information. Led by a museum employee to the basement area for a look at an Egyptian artifact, the teens are shoved into a crate and gassed only to awaken in South America hours later. Dora’s parents have found Parapata but have disappeared into the jungle while trying to evade mercenaries seeking the treasure. Now, the mercenaries have Dora and her friends, hoping to use them to get Dora’s parents to give them the location of Parapata in exchange for the teens’ safe return.
This is where the adventure truly begins. Aided by Alejandro (Eugenio Berbez), a professor friend of her father’s, Dora and the others escape the mercenaries and take off into the jungle to find her parents, following the red “O” markings that they have left on trees and rocks. But beware – the mercenaries are tracking them, settings traps and using technology to seek them out. However, Dora and her trusty backpack, which holds more gadgets than Batman’s utility belt, help the teens and Alejandro survive and continue their search.
“Dora” is delightful! The ancient ruins, lush jungles, eye popping waterfalls and gasping action lead the audience on a roller coaster ride to the climatic end. This adventure exemplifies the power of family and friendship. A perfect afternoon for everyone over the age of 8!
“Dora and the Lost City of Gold” is rated PG for for action and some impolite humor.