by Rick Grant
B+ / Rated PG / 96 min
Bolt (John Travolta) is a special dog that has been kept all of his life on the set of his super-dog show Bolt. His handlers and his actress pal, Penny (Miley Cyrus) have led to him believe that his show is real, not make believe. The funny action starts when, in a scene of his show, Penny is kidnapped. Bolt escapes his confinement in a small trailer to rescue Penny, and finds out about the real world. However, for a short time he still believes he has super-powers until he finds out the hard way that his powers are fictional. He hides in a box and is shipped to New York City.
Right away, alone in the Big Apple, Bolt connects with a snide cat, Mittens (Susie Essman) who tries to tell him his powers are fictional. However, she can’t keep her mouth shut, and Bolt takes her hostage by tying her to a leash. The two unlikely traveling companions set out on a road trip to find Penny by traveling to Los Angeles. Along the way, Bolt and Mittens meet up with the wackiest hamster in the world, Rhino (Mark Walton). Rhino is a big fan of Bolt’s show, so he is eager to prove that he can contribute to the rescue mission in or out of his plastic bubble. Rhino proves that even a hamster can make a difference.
A gaggle of dumb pigeons fly with the trio and appear in segments that cause much guffawing among the viewers. Of course, in any Disney film that involves dogs, sooner or later the dog is picked up by the fiendish dog catcher. In this case, the animal control guy grabs both Bolt and Mittens. Ah yes, but Rhino is free to rescue them, and the trio continue their journey.
The story was directed by Byron Howard and written by Dan Fogelman with the A-list team of Disney animation artists creating the believable characters. Along the way, Bold makes excuses for losing his powers like handling Styrofoam which is Bolt’s kryptonite. Eventually, Bolt resigns himself to the fact that he does not have super powers but he is committed to finding Penny.
Once in Los Angeles, the trio encounters pigeons who pitch them screenplay ideas. Yes, in L.A., even the pigeons have screenplays to sell. The pigeons help the trio find the studio where Bolt is shot. There Bolt is faced with his greatest trauma-he has been replaced with another lookalike dog and Penny seems to love him. However, Penny still suffers grief over the loss of her original Bolt. Discouraged and down, Bolt shuffles off, a broken dog.
Not to worry, Disney would never let the story end there. So much more action takes place to reach the inevitable resolution. The animal characters are well developed and their comedy routines are hilarious, especially that darn hamster Rhino. The pigeons are funny and their droll comedy left my sides hurting from laughing so hard.
The voice over cast goes well beyond the demands of their job by acting out the scenes with vibrant energy. Miley Cyrus creates Penny as a caring animal lover who didn’t want her original Bolt to think that he was a real superhero. John Travolta makes a convincing Bolt, as he faces the scary outside world of people and other animals.
Indeed, the Disney animation team created an endearing animated story that will live on far into the future. I know from experience, that when I go to review a Disney animated feature, it will be funny and wildly entertaining. Bolt lives up to that standard and exceeds it. This is a great family film well worth seeing for adults and children.
by Rick Grant