It has happened. Hollywood is out of ideas again and they have opted to rehash old kiddies shows to keep the wheels turning.
This time they have called upon the lovable Dora to draw the crowds. Looking at the trailer for Dora And The Lost City Of Gold, I’m not convinced the crowds will get what they are hoping for.
Dora first hit the screens in 2000 as a seven-year-old Latina girl, with an inquisitive nature and big soulful eyes to match. She was the hippest little explorer; sharp as a whip and dripping with little educational tidbits.
Parents loved Dora because she was safe screen-time. Children loved her because each episode was perfectly paced to entertain and keep the attention.
Now she has been swirled into a full-length feature film, showcased as a grandiose spectacle not to be missed. And why not? The franchise should have a large-enough following to justify the leap to film. It makes business sense.
However, as an author and a screenwriter I’m a bit critical of ventures like these. I’m also a dad who had to sit through many Dora episodes, which equips me with a frame of reference. Though I only have the teaser trailer to gauge, there are some things I thought worthy of mention.
Whereas the younger Dora served as a patient guide to young viewers, she is now a knife-wielding teenage adventurer. Young Dora carefully and strategically worked through challenges, turning basic problem-solving into an audience participation.
The new Dora looks like a clumsy treasure-hunter who stumbles into calamitous situations as a result of her own doing.
This is the most difficult adjustment to grasp. Dora always seemed calm and wise beyond her years. I never perceived her as a rambunctious or rebellious teenager on the hunt for adventure.
In essence, it also feels like they are not staying true to Dora’s 2009 tweenage makeover as done by Mattel and Nickelodeon. With a subtle femininity added, the 2009 Dora wore colourful dresses and pumps, and still explored the world as she had before.
Though the teaser tells very little and it’s impossible to pin down until having watched the film, it also seems as though Dora has lost her educational qualities. Its Tomb Raider meets a clumsy Nancy Drew, with a plotline reminiscent of Allan Quatermain or Indiana Jones.
Don’t get me wrong, this sounds like a fun and reasonably clean heroine movie to watch. To boot, I assume it would be peppered with witty dialogue from an entertaining Michael Peña, who portrays Dora’s father. Do not remove this from the family-friendly list of holiday movies just yet.
Dora And The Lost City Of Gold breaks into cinemas September 2019. It was filmed in Australia and has an all-star cast, with the likes of Isabela Moner, Michael Peña, Eva Longoria, Temuera Morrison, Benicio del Toro and Danny Trejo.
While the story was penned by Tom Wheeler, the screenplay was done by Nicholas Stoller and Matthew Robinson, with James Bobin in the director’s chair. Bobin and Stoller are not just admirable in their respective fields, but have become synonymous with successful projects. It gives one some peace of mind that the film will pass muster.
But, as exciting as all of this is, I wonder whether the writers, all of them very capable, hadn’t cast their nets too wide for this project. It feels as though the end-product is aimed at an older audience, maybe those who had watched Dora in 2000 and had now outgrown the fad. Is this a way to lure them back and cash in on an audience who had fond memories of dearest little Dora?
I am all for the transition from explorer to young adventurer, but I can’t help think that this revival might backfire. The trailer alone suggests that a similar transition might have been better suited or geared for Curious George or similar franchises.
My reservations aside, I do hope the movie ticks all the boxes and entertains audiences. If the movie version disappoints, it will only be because it had failed to deliver to the needs of the die-hard fans, which is often the most difficult thing to do.
James Fouche is an author, travel writer, entrepreneur and silly daddy of three. He also writes about parenting and wine, whenever his kids allow him to.