Featuring the voices of John Travolta, Miley Cyrus, and Mark Walton
Disney’s Bolt should not be confused with a Disney Pixar film. It’s high praise to suggest that it could be, and while it lacks the remarkable writing of the very best Pixar movies, the quality of the animation and the entertainment value is not far off the pace.
Actually, Bolt may help Disney level the playing field with Pixar, which is already getting much stronger competition from DreamWorks with films like Kung Fu Panda. This is fast-paced, funny, creates memorable characters, and offers as much for adults to enjoy as it does the wee ones.
Bolt (John Travolta) is the star of his own primetime show, on which he saves the planet every week with his adoring co-star, Penny (Miley Cyrus). He believes he’s blessed with superpowers, like heat vision and a super bark, because the creators of the show never let him think otherwise; it’s the only reality he knows. When Penny leaves the set to go home one day, Bolt thinks she’s being kidnapped and races into action to find her. He slowly realizes that he has no super powers, but is aided in his quest by an alley cat named Mittens (Susie Essman) and a hamster in a wheel named Rhino (Mark Walton). The two supporting characters, as is often the case in animated movies, steal the spotlight from the stars. Rhino, in particular, will be a crowd favorite, thanks to his buoyant personality and quotable lines.
Their journey is actually a cross-country one, and at its outset, I thought the film would kind of drag on and on because of the road trip structure. Happily, Bolt unfolds some of its best moments between its Hollywood bookends, with both interesting and inventive characters that the three animals encounter on the way and just enough emotional depth to make you realize that they actually gave the script some serious thought.