I checked out the live-action Dora the Explorer film and it was surprisingly good.
Dora (Isabela Moner/Madelyn Miranda) was raised in the jungles of Peru by her parents Cole (Michael Peña) and Elena (Eva Longoria), who were trying to locate the lost Inca city of Parapata. The only other person she saw was her cousin Diego (Jeff Wahlberg/Malachi Barton), who left when she was 6. Ten years later, Dora is sent by her parents to live with Diego’s family in Los Angeles while they try to finally travel to Parapata. Dora doesn’t fit in well at the school, but due to her positive attitude she doesn’t tend to get dragged down too much by it. Her intelligence earns her the ire of A-Student Sammy (Madeleine Madden) and her kindness earns her the adoration of Randy (Nicholas Coombe). When Dora, Diego, Sammy, and Randy get grouped together on a school field trip, they are abducted by a group of mercenaries under a man named Powell (Temuera Morrison) who take them to Peru. Powell and his men want to find Dora’s parents and the city of Parapata, which is made of gold. Dora and the kids escape with the help of Dora’s pet monkey, Boots, and a man named Alejandro (Eugenio Derbez) who worked with Dora’s parents. Dora resolves to track down her parents and, with the help of her friends, find the lost city of gold. Also, Benicio Del Toro is a masked fox named Swiper.
I never saw Dora the Explorer or its spin-off Go Diego Go because it was after my time but before my nieces and nephew came along. Or maybe they watched it and I didn’t care enough to notice. I’m not a great uncle. I don’t know if that made this movie better or worse for me, because I am sure there were a ton of inside jokes that I didn’t get, but also I wasn’t so nostalgic for the series that this film’s mockery of the source material offended me. Regardless, I only watched this movie at all because I saw someone online say that it was a pleasant surprise, so I felt like I should pass on the good word.
This movie feels like one of the best examples of self-parody out there and I’m kind of astonished that Nickelodeon actually agreed to make it. The movie starts off by having the young Dora and Diego mimic their cartoon counterparts, only to reveal that the events are entirely inside of their imaginations. Young Dora even talks to the camera, which is revealed to be perceived by others as her talking into the air. Her father (all hail Michael Peña) just says that she’ll grow out of it. When she is older, she instead records herself using a GoPro, which allows her to still act as if she’s talking to an audience. It keeps one of the show’s elements in the film, but also pokes fun at how ridiculous constantly asking for a non-existent audience to talk to you would look in real life.
That’s actually most of the film. It’s gently poking fun at how insane a person like Dora the Explorer would be, particularly when she grew up, but it also loves the relentless hope and positivity of the character. This affection shines through even in absurd situations, like when Dora tries to use an instructional song to help another character dig a latrine hole. Unlike most films where the outsider would have a long rejection period, this one mostly cuts that short because Dora doesn’t care too much about what people think about her. It’s more empowering than most other films, because she really is stronger than most people. The film likewise mocks adventure film tropes frequently, but also pays tribute to them in the end. It’s a tough balance, but the film walks the line well while also having a ton of fun moments and funny dialogue. It also has possibly the greatest Danny Trejo cameo in history.
Overall, this movie was really fun to watch. I’d recommend it, particularly after a few drinks.
If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time, Collection of TV Episodes, Collection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.
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