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Why is Dora the Explorer a teenager? Answers to all your biggest questions about the movie

  • August 07, 2019

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Can you say “diferente?” 

Dora the Explorer is swinging into theaters nationwide Friday for her first live-action movie, “Dora and the Lost City of Gold,” adapted from her long-running Nickelodeon animated series. 

But big changes are in store for the beloved bilingual brainiac (played by Isabela Moner), who’s now a socially awkward teenager struggling to fit in at her new Los Angeles high school. Dora is soon whisked back to the rain forest on a rescue mission to find her explorer parents (Eva Longoria and Michael Peña), who have been kidnapped by bad guys in search of the mythical lost city of Parapata. 

Rest assured, “Dora” fans: Cousin Diego (Jeff Wahlberg), monkey sidekick Boots (voiced by Danny Trejo) and the mischievous Swiper the Fox (Benicio del Toro) are all back for our Latina heroine’s latest adventure.

But why is Dora so much older than in the kids’ show? And where are Boots’, well, boots?

We phoned director James Bobin to ask the big questions. 

Dora is now 16, not 6

The biggest difference between the show and movie is that Dora is no longer a precocious youngster, but an exuberant, inquisitive teen navigating the treacherous waters of a suburban high school after moving from her lifelong jungle home. 

“She’s 16 but acts the same as she did at 6,” Bobin says. “She’s super positive and the world hasn’t beaten her down yet. She’s unlike any other teenager you know: self-aware, somewhat self-conscious. That automatically makes Dora a fish out of water.” 

She still (occasionally) breaks the fourth wall

The educational show was known for its frequent use of call and response, as Dora asked viewers to repeat Spanish phrases or basic questions about themselves, such as “What’s your name?” “Lost City” parodies that in the prologue during a family dinner where a young Dora (Madelyn Miranda) turns to the camera and asks “Can you say ‘delicioso?'” Confused, Dora’s parents ask who she’s talking to and brush it off as just a phase. 

Dora breaks the fourth wall a couple more times at the beginning of the film, although “not throughout because we didn’t want it to get in the way of the narrative,” Bobin says. “But I did want the audience to understand this is the same girl from the show, so when we first see Isabela, one of the first things she does is turn to the camera and say, “Hi, I’m Dora! I’m being chased by angry elephants.’”

Map and Backpack don’t talk, but Dora still sings about them

“Lost City” frequently tips its hat to the series, with iconic lines including “Swiper, no swiping,” and a 2-D animated sequence in the middle of the movie featuring fan-favorite characters such as Benny the Bull and the Fiesta Trio. Dora also sings about her beloved Map and Backpack, although neither object actually speaks. 

“The backpack is magic in the sense that it has endless capacity, but it doesn’t talk because we thought that might be too much in the real world,” Bobin says. “The movie (takes place) in an exaggerated reality, so we wanted to keep that tone within the ballpark of plausibility.” 

Boots is also grown up, meaning no more boots

The same logic applied to Dora’s beloved pet monkey Boots, who is introduced as a baby wearing shiny red boots before Dora’s parents advise her to take them off. The chimp reappears midway through the story sans shoes, which Bobin says seemed more realistic for a live-action movie. 

“In the real world, monkeys don’t wear boots,” Bobin says. “The first time we see Boots (as a baby), he’s eating his boots, as a real monkey would be doing if you put boots on him.”

There are lots of new characters 

After a museum field trip gone dangerously wrong, Dora and her classmates wind up on a plane to South America, where they team up with a bumbling explorer named Alejandro (Eugenio Derbez), who claims he wants to help Dora find her parents. Like the ragtag group of teens, Alejandro is a new addition to the “Dora” universe not based on any preexisting characters. 

The film introduces this “idea that there are people who are explorers and there are people who treasure hunters,” Bobin says. “Dora’s family (is) about the attainment of knowledge, research and respect of past cultures. That’s who Dora is. At the beginning, Eugenio’s character seems to be thinking along similar lines but in the end, it turns out maybe he’s not.”

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  • US actress Eva Longoria (R) and Isabela Moner (L) arrive for Dora and the Lost City of Gold premiere at the Regal Cinemas LA Live in Los Angeles on July 28, 2019. (Photo by VALERIE MACON / AFP)VALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty Images ORG XMIT: Premiere ORIG FILE ID: AFP_1J64Y61 of 20
  • Isabela Moner attends the LA premiere of Dora and the Lost City of Gold at Regal Cinemas L.A. LIVE on Sunday, July 28, 2019, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP) ORG XMIT: CAPS1012 of 20
  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JULY 28: Michael Pea (L) and Eva Longoria attend the LA Premiere of Paramount Pictures' Dora And The Lost City Of Gold at Regal Cinemas L.A. Live on July 28, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 775378854 ORIG FILE ID: 11647964873 of 20
  • Mexican actor Eugenio Derbez, his wife Mexican actress Alessandra Rosaldo and their daughter Aitana Derbez arrive for Dora and the Lost City of Gold premiere at the Regal Cinemas LA Live in Los Angeles on July 28, 2019. (Photo by VALERIE MACON / AFP)VALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty Images ORG XMIT: Premiere ORIG FILE ID: AFP_1J64T84 of 20
  • US actor Danny Trejo arrives for Dora and the Lost City of Gold premiere at the Regal Cinemas LA Live in Los Angeles on July 28, 2019. (Photo by VALERIE MACON / AFP)VALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty Images ORG XMIT: Premiere ORIG FILE ID: AFP_1J64U85 of 20
  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JULY 28: Q'orianka Kilcher attends the LA Premiere of Paramount Pictures' Dora And The Lost City Of Gold at Regal Cinemas L.A. Live on July 28, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 775378853 ORIG FILE ID: 11647939546 of 20
  • Puerto Rican actor Benicio del Toro arrives for Dora and the Lost City of Gold premiere at the Regal Cinemas LA Live in Los Angeles on July 28, 2019. (Photo by VALERIE MACON / AFP)VALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty Images ORG XMIT: Premiere ORIG FILE ID: AFP_1J650H7 of 20
  • Madeleine Madden attends the LA premiere of Dora and the Lost City of Gold at Regal Cinemas L.A. LIVE on Sunday, July 28, 2019, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP) ORG XMIT: CAPS1048 of 20
  • US actor Jeff Wahlberg arrives for Dora and the Lost City of Gold premiere at the Regal Cinemas LA Live in Los Angeles on July 28, 2019. (Photo by VALERIE MACON / AFP)VALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty Images ORG XMIT: Premiere ORIG FILE ID: AFP_1J64TO9 of 20
  • US actress Madelyn Miranda arrives for Dora and the Lost City of Gold premiere at the Regal Cinemas LA Live in Los Angeles on July 28, 2019. (Photo by VALERIE MACON / AFP)VALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty Images ORG XMIT: Premiere ORIG FILE ID: AFP_1J64S010 of 20
  • Australian actor Nicholas Coombe arrives for Dora and the Lost City of Gold premiere at the Regal Cinemas LA Live in Los Angeles on July 28, 2019. (Photo by VALERIE MACON / AFP)VALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty Images ORG XMIT: Premiere ORIG FILE ID: AFP_1J64TU11 of 20
  • Mexican actress Adriana Barraza arrives for Dora and the Lost City of Gold premiere at the Regal Cinemas LA Live in Los Angeles on July 28, 2019. (Photo by VALERIE MACON / AFP)VALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty Images ORG XMIT: Premiere ORIG FILE ID: AFP_1J64SG12 of 20
  • US actor Joey Vieira arrives for Dora and the Lost City of Gold premiere at the Regal Cinemas LA Live in Los Angeles on July 28, 2019. (Photo by VALERIE MACON / AFP)VALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty Images ORG XMIT: Premiere ORIG FILE ID: AFP_1J64WP13 of 20
  • US composer John Debney and Lola Debney arrive for Dora and the Lost City of Gold premiere at the Regal Cinemas LA Live in Los Angeles on July 28, 2019. (Photo by VALERIE MACON / AFP)VALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty Images ORG XMIT: Premiere ORIG FILE ID: AFP_1J64RH14 of 20
  • US actress Julia Garcia arrives for Dora and the Lost City of Gold premiere at the Regal Cinemas LA Live in Los Angeles on July 28, 2019. (Photo by VALERIE MACON / AFP)VALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty Images ORG XMIT: Premiere ORIG FILE ID: AFP_1J64RK15 of 20
  • British director James Bobin arrives for Dora and the Lost City of Gold premiere at the Regal Cinemas LA Live in Los Angeles on July 28, 2019. (Photo by VALERIE MACON / AFP)VALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty Images ORG XMIT: Premiere ORIG FILE ID: AFP_1J64SZ16 of 20
  • US actress Isabela Moner and US actor Danny Trejo arrive for Dora and the Lost City of Gold premiere at the Regal Cinemas LA Live in Los Angeles on July 28, 2019. (Photo by VALERIE MACON / AFP)VALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty Images ORG XMIT: Premiere ORIG FILE ID: AFP_1J64YW17 of 20
  • Actor David Miranda arrives for Dora and the Lost City of Gold premiere at the Regal Cinemas LA Live in Los Angeles on July 28, 2019. (Photo by VALERIE MACON / AFP)VALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty Images ORG XMIT: Premiere ORIG FILE ID: AFP_1J64S618 of 20
  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JULY 28: Gabrielle Nevaeh Green attends the LA Premiere of Paramount Pictures' Dora And The Lost City Of Gold at Regal Cinemas L.A. Live on July 28, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 775378854 ORIG FILE ID: 116479471319 of 20
  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JULY 28: (L-R) Dominic Lopez, Mario Lopez, and Gia Francesca Lopez attend the Dora and the Lost City of Gold World Premiere at the  Regal LA Live on July 28, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rachel Murray/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures) ORG XMIT: 775358317 ORIG FILE ID: 116480651220 of 20

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