Dora and the Lost City of Gold

In yet another sign of aging for those of us who may have in part reared children on such television, it’s 2019 and Dora the Explorer is halfway grown up — no longer the curious tot exploring the jungle (and Spanish) with your kid, Dora halfway resembles Tomb Raider, of all things (especially the most recent reboot of that series) in this action-comedy trailer.

Given Dora the Explorer’s original run on television from 2000-2014 (with a sequel series running to 2017), the general idea here is terms of demographics is likely to hit a broad range, with a median roughly hitting where Dora now is — no longer a preschooler exploring a brand new world, but rather, entering high school and entering a different process of discovery in terms of socialization. 

The first half of the trailer offers decidedly spare instrumentation but still offers a beat, with steady claps and percussive, funky guitar. True to form for a comedic trailer, this instrumental pauses at 0:27 in order to hone in on the reaction of Dora’s parents in the dialogue, designed to come off humorously. This happens again from 0:37 to 0:43. At 0:44 we hear some melody and syncopation introduced to the instrumental, which — to hazard a guess — is meant to roughly approximate the colourful tones of the original Dora the Explorer theme (yes, this writer had to look it up out of curiosity, not knowing as such off-hand). It’s a very subtle musical connection, if there is one at all.

The main theme, which hits at about the midway point alongside the date card (“This Summer”), is a basic but competent rock track possibly composed by Germaine Franco, who having previously worked on Coco and Kung Fu Panda 3 among others is no stranger to family fare. It’s also worth noting that the starring cast is, appropriately given the subject matter, predominantly Latinx. On the other hand, there is as of yet no Spanish to speak of, despite the original cartoon’s solid emphasis on bilingualism. Whether this key element of the show is given up for the sake of mass market Hollywood appeal remains to be seen.

Although at first it would seem that the musical choices contained here are decidedly straightforward, the careful rebranding of Dora for a (relatively) aging audience adds some interest as to how that demographic transition is handled. Sometimes characters are best left to capture new audience as the original one ages out; sometimes characters, like for example musical performers, age and evolve with their audience — much like, for example, the Pokemon movie coming this summer featuring a Pikachu voiced by Ryan Reynolds, of all people. It will be interesting to see whether Dora can achieve a similar feat, and how its musical choices for its trailer campaign might reflect that ambition.

— Curtis Perry