McCarthy criticized Paramount’s theatrical release Dora and the Lost City of Gold because he felt that the child characters weren’t sexualized enough. As one blog put it, his review came off as very “pervy.”
The movie is based on the cartoon character for kids Dora the Explorer but the movie features a teen version of the character. The role of Dora and her cousin Diego are played by older teens (Isabela Moner, 18, and Jeff Wahlberg, 19), however, Moner was apparently 17 when the movie was filmed.
So, even though the target audience is young children, the female lead was underage at the time, and the characters are related, McCarthy complained that there was a sexual attraction between the two stars that the film shouldn’t have ignored:
“What keeps things alive, up to a point, is the imperturbable attitude of the titular heroine, who is invested with try-and-stop-me spirit by Moner, who's actually 18 and looks it despite preventive measures. The same goes for Wahlberg, who's 19. There's a palpable gap you can't help but notice between the essentially innocent, borderline-pubescent nature of the leading characters and the film itself, and the more confident and mature vibes emanating from the leading actors. The director seems to be trying to keep the hormones at bay, but there are some things you just can't disguise, perhaps human nature first and foremost. Dora seems committed to projecting a pre-sexualized version of youth, while throbbing unacknowledged beneath the surface is something a bit more real, its presence rigorously ignored. To be believed, this story should have been set in 1955.”
McCarthy really wanted to make sure we knew that he felt this was a film that should have been set in 1950s since he noted it three separate times. I guess PG-rated kids movies set in 2019 are expected to be sexual.
Deadspin staff writer Luis Paez-Pumar tweeted, "As a general rule, you should not write this way about a kids movie."
Chelsea Steiner from “The Mary Sue,” noted tongue-in-cheek:
“Did he think Boots the monkey would get involved in a sexting scandal? Or that Dora’s talking backpack would be turning tricks on the street to fund their crippling heroin addiction? I’m sorry, but these are ridiculous criticisms to level at a movie for CHILDREN.”
"This review is gross and the writer needs to be fired," said one self-described Latinx Film and TV Critic. "Dora is 16 in the film and his problem is that the teens weren't sexualized enough?? Yes, teenagers explore but let's be clear- THEY ARE STILL CHILDREN. Stop trying to sexualize EVERY teen."
Another tweeted, "This reviewer shouldn't be allowed in theaters where children might be, and you [might not] want to publish reviews that complain that the children in the cast weren't sexy enough. This is gross and unsettling in all the ways."
Still another opined, "Horny male film critics are having to contend with the reality of Dora the Explorer having boobs and they in fact cannot handle it."
Dora and the Lost City of Gold opens nationwide on August 9.