Monday, August 12, 2019

We liked the Dora movie more than we expected

Our five-year-old was really pumped to see Dora and the Lost City of Gold so we agreed to take him. Oddly, he’s not really invested in the franchise so we were both surprised he was so interested in the movie. Although his entry was Dora: Into the City so Dora as an older kid who hangs out with other human beings is his baseline.

Short version: it was not nearly as bad as we were afraid it would be. In fact, we enjoyed it as much as our child, albeit for different reasons. It wasn’t a perfect movie but, boy, have I seen some much worse kids movies.

For us, Dora worked because it threaded the needle of acknowledging the absurdity of Dora’s world and behavior without turning it into a parody. Yeah, acting the way she does is a strange and even unnerving in real life. On the other hand, the movie celebrates that she is true to herself and ultimately a positive influence on her friends.

In other words, the movie didn’t talk down to kids and it didn’t disparage things that are important to kids.

The plot was very, very predictable with almost every plot twist foreshadowed way in advance. But that’s kind of how these movies work so that didn’t bother us since the pacing was well done. 

One element that I did find jarring was the portrayal of Swiper the Fox. For the most part, the movie was grounded in magic realism, like Indiana Jones. Magic and such are real but they are hidden. Swiper, on the other hand, was a giant, fully anthropomorphic fox completely out in the open. Not even Boots the monkey was so extreme. Still, it’s hard to knock Benicio del Toro.

By no means would I call Dora and the Lost City of Gold a perfect movie. But recycling a show aimed at preschoolers from twenty years ago into a movie was a really dubious idea. Getting a fun family movie out it was a lot more than I expected.

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