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Warning! The following contains SPOILERS for Dora and the Lost City of Gold**. Read at your own risk!**
Dora and the Lost City of Gold is a lot of fun, especially for those familiar with the Nick Jr. series Dora the Explorer. As some may have expected, the movie is absolutely loaded with nods and easter eggs that reference the original series, and the movie even takes a few jabs at the beloved kids show that those who grew up with it can look back at and laugh.
There are a ton of references that we could recount beat by beat, but at the risk of spoiling the fun for any curious readers who may want to see if it is truly worth seeing, here's some of the major references that were the best and had me laughing in my seat.
Dora Addressing The "Audience"
Even those who haven't seen Dora and the Lost City of Gold may be aware of this one, as one instance of the joke appeared in a trailer. With that being said, Dora addressing the audience like she did in Dora The Explorer gets so much better than that scene of her eating food in her parents' hut.
What may be the best thing about it is the way those moments are framed and how the film shapes Dora as a teenage girl who hasn't been socialized with children her own age all that much. The talking and all of Dora's other quirks are chalked up to the fact that she's spent a majority of her life living very differently than the average teen. There are many great examples of this, but few drive the point home as well as Dora addressing the audience.
The Opening Sequence
Perhaps the biggest nod to Dora The Explorer comes right at the film's start, when a young Dora and Diego are seen racing through the jungle. Backpack is talking, the Map is talking and we even see Diego's sidekick Baby Jaguar in the mix! It feels like a direct adaptation of the show would've been, right up until the reality is shown and it's young Diego and Dora racing around in an cardboard jeep and it's all in their imagination.
In some ways, it deepens the story of Dora the Explorer, as the implication is that all of the adventures in that series and the spinoff Go, Diego, Go! were just make-believe. Suddenly, it all makes sense why a child was wandering the jungle for all these years with little to no adult supervision! At least, that's what I'm assuming, as it does seem Dora was given free reign of the jungle at some point, just maybe not when she was so young.
Swiper The Fox
Out of all the characters who could've appeared in Dora and the Lost City of Gold, Swiper the Fox seemed the most impossible. Swiper was a recurring antagonist in Dora The Explorer who rarely did more than steal or attempt to steal things that Dora needed to complete her adventures. It was fun for a show directed at young children, but how exactly does a character like that work in a live-action feature film?
Quite well, actually, as Benicio del Toro's Swiper plays a henchmen for the treasure hunters. The funny thing is he's basically just a henchmen like the others, with the fact that he's a fast fox the sole thing setting him apart from the rest of the bad guys. Despite his relegated status, Swiper is still great, and the film asks the biggest question about the villain Dora the Explorer never addressed: why does a talking fox need a mask for anonymity?
The Animated Sequence
If someone would've asked me if I thought Dora and the Lost City of Gold would have a sequence where the characters would hallucinate, I would've asked them if they ever saw Dora the Explorer. Despite all odds, however, the characters do indeed have a very trippy time in the jungle, which ends up turning Dora into a teenage animated version of herself. Basically she looks the same, although her hair is a bit more wavy.
The best part of this sequence is that Dora and the Lost City of Gold uses this opportunity to show some things that may have been too weird for even this movie. Benny the blue cow, Isa the iguana and others are all seen congratulating Dora as she's tripping balls and trying to find a way across a ravine. It's a moment that is innocent enough for kids to laugh about, and is also absolutely hilarious for the older audiences who grew up with the show.
When footage for Dora and the Lost City of Gold first hit the web, few probably questioned why Isabela Moner had bangs. No, she isn't a Big Little Lies fan, but bangs have been an iconic look for Dora the Explorer since the very beginning. It may not be the trendiest hairstyle these days, but there probably would've been some small outcry had Moner showed up with any other hairstyle.
What's even better about the bangs is that Dora gets roasted by her grandmother when she sees her still sporting them as a teenager. Dora is, of course, oblivious to the comment, and the bangs more or less drive home the fact that she's relatively unaware and clueless about what's cool (as the first trailer showed) and just about anything else that doesn't have to do with survival in the wilderness. It's funny, but also an important part of the plot!
In Dora the Explorer, it wasn't at all uncommon to hear Dora and Boot engaged in conversation throughout a bulk of the episode. This isn't the case in Dora and the Lost City of Gold, in which much of the talking happens with Dora seemingly pretending she knows what Boots is telling her without him actually doing anything more than grunting and making monkey sounds. I'll admit it was sort of a let down, especially when Swiper started talking.
Then, later in the film when Dora's chips are at her lowest, Boots finally speaks. He doesn't just speak, however; this movie got Danny "I'm the guy who did Machete but also did Spy Kids" Trejo to be the voice of Dora's best friend. All the prior non-speaking was forgiven on my end, and I would assume many others felt the same way after hearing Boots' astonishing pep talk.
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