DORA AND THE LOST CITY OF GOLD
Nickelodeon TV’s beloved animated series “Dora the Explorer” comes to the big screen as a live action adventure with a teenaged Dora (Isabelle Moner) who lives in the Peruvian jungle with her scientist parents (Eva Longoria and Michael Pena) and her CGI monkey Boots.
When she moves in with her cousin Diego’s (Jeff Wahlberg) family so that she can attend high school in the U.S., the bilingual and home-schooled Dora has trouble fitting in because of her unremitting ebullient enthusiasm. Can you say “weirdo”?
During a field trip to the Museum of Natural History, high school students Dora, Diego, Sammy (Madeleine Madden) and Randy (Nicholas Coombe) are kidnapped and taken to Peru by treasure hunting baddies who have captured Dora’s parents.
Mexican comedian Eugenio Derbez portrays Alejandro Gutierrez in a feature aimed at the very young but which occasionally satirizes Dora’s maddeningly upbeat image. Despite a mostly bland, predictable and slapstick-filled narrative, director James Bobin’s film shows an imaginative slant particularly during the poppy field sequence.
Rated PG 2 and 1/2 Stars
THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN
Get out the tissues, especially if you have a soft spot for golden retrievers.
Aspiring Formula One race car driver Denny Swift (Milo Ventrimiglia) adopts a cuddly pup and names him Enzo after legendary entrepreneur and driver Enzo Ferrari. Like other recent movie canines, Enzo (voice of Kevin Costner) serves as the sage and sometimes silly narrator of this sweet tale (some might call it syrupy) which is filled with drama, love and, of course, many high-speed vehicles.
Based on Garth Stein’s best selling novel and well-directed by Simon Curtis, the tender and often humorous story is revealed through Enzo’s point-of-view, sometimes literally through the use of a “dog cam.” When Denny meets Eve (Amanda Seyfried), the jealous Enzo takes a long time to warm up to the new human in Denny’s life.
Although the movie’s plot does offer a few surprising twists, the viewer will likely recognize the formulaic nature of “The Art of Racing in the Rain” and enjoy the total scenario anyway.
Rated PG 3 Stars
In Hell’s Kitchen, a neighborhood of New York City controlled by the Irish Mafia, three “desperate” housewives learn that mobster Little Jackie (Myk Watford) and his crew will not support them while their husbands are in prison. It’s 1978, and Kathy Brennan (Melissa McCarthy), Ruby O’Carroll (Tiffany Haddish) and Claire Walsh (Elisabeth Moss) form their own protection racket.
Based on the Vertigo comic book series from DC Entertainment and written for the screen and directed by Andrea Berloff, “The Kitchen” resembles last year’s “Widows,” but the current extremely gritty film scores much higher on the blood and gore chart. Not only is the death count high, but “The Kitchen” offers a ghastly primer on dismembering and disposing of bodies.
Although the plot meanders a bit, the casting remains spot-on. Now getting attention as a serious actress, McCarthy is believable as a smart cookie, an Irish American mother who demands respect. Haddish is a revelation as an African American trapped in Hell’s Kitchen, and Moss morphs convincingly from an abused to a vengeful woman.
Rated R 3 Stars