Monday, November 24, 2008

Movie Review:Bolt

From the first trailers I have looked forward to seeing Bolt (2008), a non-Pixar Disney animated feature. The wait was worth it.

Bolt (John Travolta) is a puppy rescued from a shelter by Penny (Miley Cyrus). 5 years later, he is the star of a television show aptly titled Bolt. Bolt and Penny, in an aggressive knock-off of Inspector Gadget Meets Lassie, engage in adventures to find Dr. Calico (Malcolm McDowell) who kidnapped Penny's father and sends endless hordes of helicopters, motorcycles, and henchman to capture Penny.

Each carefully scripted episode is done to keep Bolt from realizing he is acting. As a result, he thinks the adventures are real and he has superpowers; he can leap incredible distances, melt things with his heat vision, and has a super-bark.

One day the network demands a change in format so the next episode ends in a cliff-hanger that leaves Penny captured. Bolt, desperate to rescue her, escapes. Through an entertaining series of events, he is air-mailed from Hollywood to New York.

There, he captures the cat Mittens (Susie Essman) and together they begin making their way back to Hollywood. Along the way they pick up Rhino (Mark Walton), a Hamster who loves the show Bolt and believes Bolt has super powers.

Numerous jokes ensue as the trio makes their way across country. Along the way Mittens stops being a captive and starts being a friend, Bolt figures out he is not really super-powered and starts being a "real dog" and the jokes fly fast and furious. Ultimately he rescues Penny, Mittens and Rhino find a home, and everyone is happy.

This movie works on many levels. It is cute for the kids, funny for the adults, and has a nice, if predictable, story. The pigeons will remind many of the Animaniacs and certainly add to the story. The surface message about cats and dogs getting along (different breeds, different people) is nice and heart-warming.

The underlying message is better, though. Enough already of 2 things; 1) thinking the audience has to have totally committed actors, the price is too high, and 2) let kids have real childhoods. Stop pushing them so hard.

Overall, a very good experience. Go see it or I will send Rhino to snap your neck.

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