Rated PG; Directed by Byron Howard and Chris Williams; Starring the voice talents of John Travolta, Miley Cyrus, Susie Essman, Mark Walton, Greg Germann
Bolt is Disney’s latest animated feature. Not based on any classic fairy tale, this film is about a superhero dog…er…except he’s not really a superhero. With a silly concept and good execution, Bolt makes an entertaining movie for both kids and adults. It will not ever make it into the classic movie category, but as those are rare, “Bolt” holds it own among all the other animated features, and even tops many of them with certain inventive scenes.
Imagine that a television show about a superhero canine (sort of a six-million dollar dog) is successful because the dog thinks it is all real, and the cast and crew keep it that way, never letting him know that his super powers are all done behind the scenes. Then have this intelligent, brave dog think his owner, Penny (Miley Cyrus), is in danger, then have this dog escape from his insulated existence and then have to face the real world. That’s what happens to poor Bolt (John Travolta), a dog who finds he has no super-strength or abilities.
It’s a silly concept but proves rather fun. There’s the entertaining spoofing of TV action shows and certain Hollywood types, including an obnoxious agent, an arrogant director, and a doubting network executive. But the real fun is watching Bolt find himself in a strange new environment where nothing works like it does on a Hollywood soundstage. To find Penny, he eventually teams up with Mittens, a New York alley cat (Susie Essman) and an awestruck hamster who believes in Bolt’s TV adventures (Mark Walton).
The animators offer us a lively adventure with lots of humor. They created some interesting characters that aren’t too bland. Mark Walton’s hamster gives us the most laughs, but Susie Essman makes Mittens an interesting critter. Travolta and Cyrus also do fine in their voice roles. Various series of pigeons show up to offer some laughs.
The film keeps things moving with only a few slow spots. The TV action-adventures are cleverly done (the 3-D version of this movie should be amazing), and some scenes, such as jumping on a train or an escape from an animal shelter, are pure adrenaline and laugh-filled action.
Bolt isn’t the best of Disney, but it’s not too shabby. It’s certainly better than many of the animated films we’ve seen in the movie theaters. A pleasant, fun, and sometimes inventive movie, Bolt offers a good time at the movies.