Dora and the Lost City of Gold loses points for feeling like the scripts

The dynamic between Dora and her freaked out classmates is well established and executed, and this half of the film introduces Eugenio Derbez’s character: a mysterious fellow explorer who says he wants to help the kids in their time of need. Derbez is a good sport, and adds some nice slapstick moments to the film, but the best adults here are Peña and Longoria, who have outstanding chemistry. The second half of the film may not be as funny and fleet-footed as the set-up, but it does have more of Peña, who has the two funniest moments in the entire film: one where he tries to explain to Dora what a rave is and the other when he defends his daughter against the threats of the villains while throwing all of her new friends unwittingly under the metaphorical bus. Peña remains one of the biggest scene stealers in recent memory, and his casting as Dora’s dad is spot-on.

Dora and the Lost City of Gold loses points for feeling like the scripts of two very different movies have been hastily stitched together, and at points the film visually looks like it was a rush job. The production design and locations are nifty, if somewhat generic, but the CGI is frequently dodgy and out of place with the surroundings. Certain plot elements (including one revolving around a wise, but spooky old woman who lives in the jungle) feel like they’ve been drastically cut down without fully explaining their significance to the story in better detail. With a bit more retooling, time, and effort, Dora and the Lost City of Gold could’ve been a bigger surprise than merely just something that’s better than expected.

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