“Everybody poops!” goes the famous book. Everybody does, and, at certain points in our lives, we may even tell someone else that we have done the deed and, indeed, pooped. Even small children may make up a little song about their accomplishment – heck, you’d probably not be at all shocked that the Dora the Explorer cartoon, aimed at small kids may broach the subject. But you’d be forgiven for taken in a few deep breaths when you learn that the live-action Dora the Explorer film features a song about having a number two in a hole in the jungle.
Yep, this Dora is all grown up and singing about poop, under the influence of drugs and hanging around with a 50 year-old man in the deep, dense depths of the Amazon. She’s a teenager, now, and we are off on a surprising yet pretty satisfying trip with the idyllic, wide-eyed explorer to both the big city and the Lost City of Gold.
That the director (James Bobin) and co-writer (Nicholas Stoller) were largely responsible for the 2011 reboot of The Muppets (Stoller also helped bring is the brilliant Captain Underpants Movie, as well as his frequent collaborations with Jason Segal and Judd Apatow) may make things a little clearer which kind of reimagining of the animation we are treated to here – Dora, at times, believes she in her own show, third-wall breaking jokes ensue – but the character’s charm, naivety and infectious joyousness are still present and correct, as is the huge sense of fun which comes in floods here.
Where other adaptations may have followed the path and stayed “traditional”, the big-screen version wants to stretch things out and, for the most part, does a decent job at balancing the two, thanks in no small part to the filmmaker’s knack for mixing humour and heart, and their secret weapon: Isabella Moner. Having impressed in Sicario 2 and Instant Family in the last year, Miner’s star continues to grow and this only expands her supreme talents. Pulling off such an energetic, original, fish-out-of-water character like Dora is a tall order but Moner makes it look easy, with a confident stride and an infectious warmth.
There’s plenty for all audiences to enjoy here: a few subtle adult-orientated jokes and rambunctious action sequences for the elders; jungle puzzles, talking animals, lessons of family, friendship and being yourself for the kids, not too mention some toe-tapping songs. It’s doesn’t all work- the aforementioned older gentleman (an excruciatingly unfunny Eugenio Derbez) – derails the energy of the film in the mid-section, but on the whole Dora is a harmless, entertaining family film that’s sure to get everyone grabbing their compass and map for their own explorations.
Scott J.Davis | [rating=3]
Adventure, Family | USA, 2019 | PG | 16th August 2019 (UK) | Paramount Pictures | Dir.James Bobin | Isabela Moner, Eugenio Derbez, Michael Peña, Eva Longoria, Pia Miller