Tuesday, March 23, 2010

"Bolt" (2008)

"Bolt" (2008)
Starring John Travolta and Miley Cyrus
Written by Dan Fogelman and Chris Williams
Directed by Byron Howard and Chris Williams

Another non-Pixar CG animated flick, this time from Disney themselves, "Bolt" stars John Travolta as the titular dog who goes on a cross-country journey to find Penny, his "person".  Bolt, a super-powered dog, believes Penny has been kidnapped by Dr. Calico, "the Green-Eyed man," who plots to take over the world.  In reality, Bolt is actually a canine actor on a TV show about a super-powered dog.  Penny is an actress who has gone home for the weekend.

The director of the show goes to extremes to make sure that Bolt doesn't know that Penny really isn't in danger in order to get the best performance out of his canine star.  Unfortunately, this means that when Bolt gets loose in the real world, he has no idea how to function as a real dog.  On his own, in a strange place, Bolt attempts to find Penny by whatever means necessary, coming across a number of strange characters and new situations.  He puts together a rag-tag team consisting of an alley-cat named Mittens and a hamster in a ball named Rhino to help him.

"Bolt" is an okay feature, but nothing overly special.  The movie functions best when Bolt is learning how to be a real dog and not a super-powered show dog... so basically, a solid portion of the 2nd act.  The rest of the action is entertaining enough, but comes off feeling pretty standard.  Luckily, as an animated feature, "Bolt" is short enough that no part of the film ever outstays its welcome.

The cast is able, with John Travolta providing the voice of the titular dog, and Miley Cyrus as Penny, Susie Essman as Mittens and Mark Walton as Rhino.  Probably the best parts go to all the quick, one-off characters.  The movie has a number of bird characters that are all cleverly characterized depending on geographical region.

"Bolt" is well-animated, though the character designs are all fairly standard.  It's entertaining enough to distract your kids for an hour and a half, but it's probably not likely to become a favorite in too many households.