Aug 06, 2019
By Tara Weiss
Director James Bobin on remaking the icon as a 16-year-old for 'Dora and the Lost City of Gold.'
She may be a teenager in Paramount Pictures’ live-action Dora and the Lost City of Gold movie, but Dora the Explorer’s innocence and youthful optimism haven’t changed one bit.
She still sings her famous backpack anthem, this time en route to high school. Before going through a metal detector, she introduces herself to a security guard with a peppy, “Hola, soy Dora and this is Backpack.” And she joyously shouts, “We did it,” to fellow classmates at the end of the school day.
Apparently that’s what happens when you spend the first 16 years of life in the jungle with only your friendly monkey, Boots (voiced by Danny Trejo), zoologist mother (Eva Longoria) and archaeologist father (Michael Peña), to keep you company. Dora (Isabela Moner) may know how to survive the jungle, but life in an American high school is foreign territory.
She’s sent to L.A. to live with Abuelita (Adriana Barraza) and her cousin Diego (Jeff Wahlberg), to make human, age-appropriate friends. Meanwhile, her parents embark on a dangerous journey to find Parapata, the fabled Lost City of Gold. Diego knows something is different about his cousin when he finds her at the airport introducing herself to strangers and sliding down the escalator rail like a, well, monkey.
It’s a classic fish-out-of-water tale designed to appeal to the entire family. The challenge for Director James Bobin, though, was striking a balance between Dora’s wide-eyed optimism and her intelligence.
Some parts of the original show didn’t translate to the film as well as Dora’s personality. When the cartoon debuted in 2000, its mission was to teach preschoolers problem solving, language and culture. It aired for 14 years and taught Spanish vocabulary by repeating words like “vamos” (let’s go), “azul” (blue) and “amigos” (friends). It also had the opposite effect: Teaching kids outside of the U.S. English. While there is plenty of Latinx culture, the film dispenses with the word games and repetition in favor of a storyline with broader appeal.
Bobin, pictured above, recently chatted with Viacom about the pressure of revisiting a beloved character, the historical importance of the all-Latinx cast, and the deadly creatures the cast and crew encountered while filming in the Australian jungle.
"A lot of people in the Hispanic community see Dora as a vanguard, a leader. Having a movie with an almost entirely Latin cast is so important because it’s unusual. And it shouldn’t be."