¡Hola! As you may or may not be aware, the popular cartoon Dora the Explorer is being adapted into a live-action feature by Nickelodeon and casting is underway. But while a parent might have the patience to plop their kids in front of the TV for a couple hours of Dora at home, the idea that they will sit through a full-length Dora feature in theaters (a place where you cannot/should not read, fold laundry, or sneak sex with your partner) is a little more daunting.
So how do we make the Dora the Explorer movie appealing to both kids and grown-ups in the way that all modern successful children’s media tends to be? By reframing it through the prestige lens, obviously. ¡Vámanos!
When you think about it, Dora (who spends most of her time solving puzzles with her monkey friend, Boots, and with the help of the audience) is kind of a crowd-sourcing detective already—in the vein of true crime aficionado Michelle McNamara, who relied partly on online forums while attempting to track down the Golden State Killer. But Dora the Explorer is not about murder, you might say, to which I respond, not about murder...yet.
With Isabela Moner already cast as the titular role, all the Dora movie needs is a coat of grit and a mystery that’s a little more intense than the lost letters of the alphabet, which most parents have already memorized. Universal appeal could come by way of an overwrought Nic Pizzolatto screenplay (Michael Bay is producing) and some unexpected casting choices. For example:
- Willem Dafoe as Swiper, the nefarious thieving fox. What’s he stealing? Bones? Money from the LA Department of Transportation? LIVES????
- Rooney Mara as Boots, the monkey in boots. It’s been awhile since the gothier Mara sister played Lisbeth Salander in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, so she’s probably hungry for another dark role that she can sink her teeth into (Boots, in this version, bites a lot). She will radiate complexity as this small, agile primate, who is hiding an opioid addiction (this might go over most kids’ heads).
- Adam Driver as the talking backpack. Is there anything Star Wars’ Adam Driver CAN’T do? Probably, but playing a backpack packed with human emotions (and maybe a deep-seated rage problem that links back to his abusive relationship with his father, a suitcase) ain’t it.
- Vince Vaughn as the Grumpy Old Troll. I’m feeling a little apoplectic myself.
I have my tickets pre-ordered on Fandango, but we can start taking bets on who the killer is now.