How the live-action 'Dora' movie stays true to its animated roots

Tracy Brown, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

When teenage Dora first appears in "Dora and the Lost City of Gold," she directly addresses viewers with her signature greeting: "Hi, I'm Dora!"

It's clear from that moment that this live-action Dora, played by actress Isabela Moner, is the same super cool exploradora that children all over the world have watched since the animated "Dora the Explorer" debuted in August 2000. She's just grown up a little.

For director James Bobin, that spark of recognition was integral for "Dora and the Lost City of Gold."

"Dora is relentlessly positive in a very sweet way," Bobin told The Times. "You want to stay true to the character. The most important thing is the character has to be recognized."

Live-action adaptations of popular cartoons are nothing new in Hollywood, but "Dora" is unique because its source is a bilingual educational program for preschoolers.

Since its debut, "Dora the Explorer" has been seen all over the world. Airing in over 100 other countries and dubbed in 30 different languages, the animated Dora is world famous.


Created by Chris Gifford, Valerie Walsh Valdes and Eric Weiner, the original series sees Dora routinely break the fourth wall to encourage interaction from her young viewers (early seasons of the show even included little features to make it seem as if Dora was the main character of a computer game). Repetition, songs and solving puzzles are all built into the show's DNA to help kids learn in both Spanish and English.

Most of Dora's cohorts in her Nickelodeon series are cute, talking animals. And she is also never without her singing backpack and map. It's difficult to imagine all of these essential elements of the show being translated into a live-action movie, but "Dora and the Lost City of Gold" makes it work.

"I wanted to respect the source material because without the material we wouldn't be here," said Bobin.

That means this Dora is just as positive and encouraging as her animated counterpart, but just a little more aware because she is a teenager. She still sings, is eager to learn and effortlessly switches between languages. She even carries a backpack loaded up with all the things and knick-knacks she might need.


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