Old 12-17-2008, 03:19 AM

Bolt (2008)

The easiest way to describe this movie would be to say that it's a cross between "The Truman Show" and ""Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey," but animated. That's not a bad thing at all. Both of those movies were very well done and had a great sense of character, even though for "Homeward Bound," those characters were dogs and cats. "Bolt" takes the same road and manages to come up with some really great characters that turn out to be interesting to both kids and adults.

Bolt (Voice of John Travolta) is the star of an action show on T.V. where he constantly is saving the life of its star, Penny (Voice of Miley Cyrus). The thing is, Bolt doesn't know it's a show. He believes that it is all real and that Penny really is in constant danger. After a cliffhanger ending that leaves Penny in the clutches of the show's villain, Bolt escapes from his trailer and accidentally gets shipped to New York City. Here, he teams up with a cat named Mittens (Voice of Susie Essman) and a hamster named Rhino (Voice of Mark Walton) to try and get back to Hollywood to help Penny.

The voice-acting for this film was remarkably well done. John Travolta was spot on as the voice of Bolt, giving the character that perfect blend of innocence and naivety. I was even surprised that Miley Cyrus did a really good job. Her "Hannah Montana" act got really old within 5 seconds, but here she creates a character that has genuine feelings for her missing dog. However, my favorite character had to be Rhino the hamster. Mark Walton steals every scene he is in with his quirky little character who is a huge fan of Bolt's show. His great one-liners and eccentricity had me laughing plenty.

This truly is enjoyable for both kids and adults as the humor doesn't seem to be targeting any one audience. Instead, it seems to be trying to find a level of humor that will be amusing to everyone, and I think it succeeds very well in doing so. I've heard reports from young kids that said they loved it and laughed quite a bit. I've also heard from older folks who had quite a good time watching and laughing through it. I'm in the latter group and I laughed quite a bit (That hamster was awesome!).

I think Disney did the right thing in having a generally-based humor instead of going the "Shrek" route of having separate humor for kids and adults. This is a Disney film after all, so the kids should be the center of attention where the humor is concerned, but as I mentioned, people of all ages have found it amusing.

The screenplay was written by Dan Fogelman and Chris Williams. While I can't say much for Fogelman, as the only credits I recognize in his resume are "Fred Claus" and "Cars," neither which I've seen, I can say that Williams has quite a bit of talent. Williams' credits include "The Emperor's New Groove" and "Mulan," two films that I also found very entertaining, well-written, and quite funny. Fogelman and Williams have put together a screenplay that not only is funny, but also provides a decent emotional impact with its touching story.

The animation looks beautiful as well. Disney keeps finding different ways to make their characters more and more realistic as the years go on. They certainly have come a long way from their more "cartoonish" classics like "Snow White" and "Sleeping Beauty." It'll be interesting to see what they are able to come up with in the near future.

In an age where kids drag their parents to the theater to see some of the worst junk out there...."High School Musical 3," "Beverly Hills Chihuahua," "Twilight," etc., it's nice to know there's at least one that won't end up with the parents wanting to strangle their kid for making them sit through it. The important thing to take away from this review, in case you didn't get it by now, is that this is a film that everyone can enjoy. So take the kids, sit back, relax, enjoy the movie, and teach them the importance of not breaking out into song during high school. 3/4 stars.
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