Where Are We Going?! ‘Dora and the Lost City of Gold’ Review!

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CREDIT: Paramount Pictures

The best parts of Dora and the Lost City of Gold are when Dora goes to high school, and I kind of (actually more than kind of) wish a lot more of the movie took place there. Now, I generally have a rule that I do not criticize a movie for what it isn’t, instead preferring to grapple with what it actually is. But when the movie itself gives us a preview of what it could’ve been, I think it’s valid to wonder “what if?”

I’m a sucker for fish-out-of-water scenarios and recontextualization, and Dora’s enrollment into Los Angeles’ secondary school system is a textbook example. It’s very Mean Girls-esque, but tonally reversed, as Dora is too unflappably peppy and resourceful to ever be consumed by the darkness of high school pettiness. Instead, she is going to win over everyone eventually by sheer force of will, and Isabela Moner is absolutely up to the task. And let’s be clear: she’s not naive. She knows her classmates make fun of her for singing about her backpack and other aggressive idiosyncrasies, but she is just so sure of herself that she can’t be anyone else, and that is a quality I admire more than just about anything. When her school has a “Dress as Your Favorite Star” dance, you get the sense that she actually does understand that “star” means “celebrity,” but she nevertheless chooses to dress as the Sun, so that’s pretty awesome.

Anyway, Dora and some friends get kidnapped, then they go searching for her missing parents in the jungle, and that’s the majority of the movie. It’s a family-friendly Indiana Jones, and you’ve probably seen this sort of adventure dozens of time before. But never before with Danny Trejo voicing a monkey.

I give Dora and the Lost City of Gold a Grade of “Delightful!” Encantadora! Can you say, “Encantadora”?

This Is a Movie Review: I Have No Idea How to Make Sense of ‘The Nutcracker and the Four Realms,’ But At Least It’s Vaguely Enjoyable

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CREDIT: Laurie Sparham/Disney Enterprises

This review was originally posted on News Cult in November 2018.

Starring: Mackenzie Foy, Keira Knightley, Matthew Macfadyen, Eugenio Derbez, Richard E. Grant, Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman, Misty Copeland

Directors: Lasse Hallström and Joe Johnston

Running Time: 99 Minutes

Rating: PG for Mildly Scary Rodents

Release Date: November 2, 2018

In The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, Mr. Stahlbaum’s (Matthew Macfayden) wife has recently passed away, so now he wants to make sure that he and his children are able to keep it together. What does he believe is the best way to do so? Why, dancing, of course! They head off to a Christmas ball, where he insists to his headstrong daughter Clara (Mackenzie Foy) that she must save one dance for him. When they arrive, she has no interest in dancing, but by the end, the entire Stahlbaum family is dancing together. How does she end up changing her mind? I guess it must have something to do with her impromptu journey through a magical, Narnia-like realm, but I’m not sure show. This movie resembles a hero’s journey in which lessons are learned, but it is not particularly clear what those lessons are, beyond the simple “be brave” and “appearances can be deceiving.” But regardless, Mr. Stahlbaum’s wish for dancing is fulfilled, so … mission accomplished?

Beyond Clara’s internal fortitude, the main potential attraction in the Four Realms is Keira Knightley’s weirdly affected performance as the Sugar Plum Fairy. As one of the leaders of the realms, she sounds like a body snatcher doing an impression of a ditzy supermodel. She speaks in baby-talk neologisms that make her sound like a character from Rugrats. The way she says “Oh, poo” is transcendent.

Basically, what it boils down to is this: I have no idea how closely this film resembles the original 1816 short story, and I do not care to look it up. (I’m guessing the plot doesn’t matter all that much in the ballet.) The Nutcracker and the Four Realms lacks a sense of of clear purpose and meaning and comes with a psychedelic edge that often goes along with misbegotten fantasy family movies. I would not expect such a surreal flavor from either of its co-directors (Lasse Hallström and Joe Johnston), but accidental surrealism is often the best surrealism.

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is Recommended If You Like: I have absolutely no clue.

Grade: 3 out of 5 Mice

This Is a Movie Review: Overboard (2018)

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CREDIT: Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures/Pantelion Films

I give Overboard (2018) 3 out of 5 Baggy Seahawks Jerseys: http://uinterview.com/reviews/movies/overboard-movie-review-anna-faris-and-eugenio-derbez-are-a-sweet-enough-duo-to-overcome-this-remakes-fundamental-flaws/