As her parents prepare to embark on an expedition to locate the fabled lost city of Parapata, they decide the time is right for Dora to join her cousin Diego in the city and make some friends her own age. Initially, Dora finds the concrete jungle harder to get to grips with than the lush tropical surroundings she’s used to but when she and her classmates are kidnapped by mercenaries during a field trip, Dora will need to use all her explorer skills to find the way to Parapata and save her parents.
This is a textbook example of how to successfully translate a small screen property to the big screen. It nods to the original series and its ‘Diego’ and ‘Into The City’ spin-offs in all the right ways, tweaking the foibles and gimmicks of the series without ever mocking or disavowing them. In fact, refreshingly, it goes out of its way to promote Dora’s optimism and kindness against the more cynical urban lifestyle of her high school peers. But more than that, it’s perfectly accessible for people who have never seen a single episode of the cartoon series and even for those parents whose relationship with Dora may be more akin to Stockholm Syndrome, this big-hearted, good-natured adaptation is unlikely to provoke any traumatic flashbacks to endlessly replayed videos of yore.
The cast are uniformly delightful – and occasionally surreally surprising (Benicio Del Toro as Swiper The Fox, Danny Trejo as Boots The Monkey) – but special praise has to be reserved for Isabela Moner who is absolutely note-perfect as the deceptively naive, resourceful and relentlessly upbeat Dora, never once allowing the character to slip into annoying or irritating. Director James Bobin (“Flight Of The Conchords”, “Muppets Most Wanted“) brings a knowingly breezy sensibility to proceedings, homaging “Tomb Raider” and Indiana Jones amongst others as he effectively delivers the film “Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull” should have been.
Smart, sensitive, funny and just the right amount of nostalgic, this is a thrilling, family-friendly crowdpleaser which fully deserves to be mixing it up with the jaded big boy franchises of the multiplex. If you haven’t seen it yet: grab your backpack, let’s go, jump in, vámonos!