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Bolt movie poster


Genre: Animation, Action, Comedy
Rated: PG
Directed by:
Byron Howard, Chris Williams
John Travolta, Miley Cyrus, Susie Essman, Mark Walton, Nick Swardson
Released by: Walt Disney Pictures

In Short: A method-acting canine action hero finds that the real world is not so simple.  
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The True-Dog Show
Bolt is Formulaic but Fetching

Bolt may be a TV dog, but Lassie he isn't. The Terminator has nothing on this American White Shepherd mix, voiced by John Travolta. Bolt leaps over freeways, catches Frisbee-shaped time bombs in his teeth and blasts out super-barks, all to save his ever-loving human companion, young Penny (Miley Cyrus) from the evil Dr. Calico.


Cut! Bolt is whisked back to his trailer so that he can't see that his entire life is on a soundstage and his special powers are actually special effects. As the director within the film puts it, "If the dog believes it, the audience believes it." It makes Bolt a Truman Show for the animated pooch set.

Bolt in Bolt
Bolt, Mittens and Rhino in Bolt

Leave it to New York City to knock some reality into you. When Bolt finds himself accidentally shipped to the Big Apple, life becomes very different. He literally ropes in Mittens, a wily street cat (Susie Essman), to get him back to Hollywood, and they pick up a star-struck, thrill-seeking hamster named Rhino (Mark Walton) along the way.

Thus Bolt becomes a road movie with a canine Crosby, a feline Lamour, and for comic relief, a Hope of the order rodentia. Sans superpowers, Bolt learns the pleasures of ordinary dog life, from playing fetch to wagging one's tongue out a car window. Endearing, yes, but also a familiar formula.

Not that there's anything wrong with a formula film, especially when your target audience is prepubescent. The good-natured Bolt has enough action to engage the restless, and enough cute, furry creatures to charm any kid. For moms and dads, there are Hollywood insider jokes, and the realistic art direction is fun for all ages—especially if you can catch the film in 3-D.

Reviewed by Andrew Bender

PKR110308 (Updated: 11/21/08 KR)

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