Bolt is a movie that will most assuredly not be listed among the pantheon of the greatest Disney animated films of all time. As far as its story goes, it doesn’t hold a candle to modern-day classics like The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast or Aladdin. That being said, it’s not a bad film. Bolt is sweet, funny at times, with plenty of “Awww!” moments and a predictably happy ending, which is pretty much the norm for Disney animated fare.
The very first “Awww!” moment comes in the opening scene when a little girl named Penny (Miley Cyrus) goes into a pet store and picks out an absolutely adorable white German Shepherd, which she names – of course – Bolt. Fast-forward to five years later, where we see Bolt and Penny trying to save Penny’s kidnapped father from the clutches of the evil Dr. Calico (Malcolm McDowell), complete with a well-realized chase scene and culminating in Bolt using his numerous “super-powers” to defeat a whole horde of bad guys.
Of course, this throw-down is merely the set for a hit television show, of which Bolt and Penny are the main characters. Unfortunately, the creators of the show have orchestrated everything so precisely that Bolt is utterly convinced that everything that happens is real, including his super-powers. But when a mishap accidentally has Bolt stuck in a box bound for New York, he doggedly (heh) tries to get back so he can save Penny, who he still believe to be in danger.
Along the way, Bolt (John Travolta) makes the acquaintance of Mittens (Susie Essman), a street-wise cat who Bolt believes is part of the evil plot, and Rhino (Mark Walton), an overweight, television-obsessed hamster who is Bolt’s biggest fan. As they traverse the country, Mittens gradually forms a bond with Bolt which is really quite heartwarming.
At its heart, Bolt is basically a buddy picture, with a fair amount of action and comedy thrown in. Rhino provides most of the comic relief, which will have moviegoers of all ages laughing. The scenes where Mittens teaches Bolt how to behave like a “real dog” are also quite uproarious. (Picture: Mittens and Bolt sitting by a toilet, and then Bolt turns to Mittens and says incredulously, “Out of THERE?”)
Obviously, Disney isn’t reinventing the wheel with Bolt. It will not break box office records or hold as high a place in your (or your child’s) heart like some of the classic Disney or Pixar films. But you will enjoy it. And really, that’s all that matters, isn’t it?
3 ½ / 5 stars
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