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Bolt

Movie title: Bolt (2008)
Grade: A- (4 stars)
Rated: PG
Summation: A movie star dog is lost and must find his way back home, along with two friends, while contending with the real world.
Spoilers ahead: No

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2008 must be a good year for animated movies. Disney’s Bolt is a fine addition to some excellent pieces of work. Those I consider to be the top three are Kung Fu Panda, Wall-e, and now Bolt.

I rank it third after Kung Fu Panda and Wall-e (these two sharing the number one spot in my estimation). Bolt is a lightening bolt of a film, and like its other two great contemporaries, is unique in its development and manages to advance its genre. Simply put, you’ve never seen anything quite like it.

Bolt (voiced by John Travolta) is a dog, a Hollywood super-dog, together with his human and fellow superstar, Penny (Miley Cyrus). Bolt gets hit with some hard times when he finds himself lost and on the other side of the country. There, his love for his co-star is tested, and so is his strength to survive and adapt in the real world and make it back home. That’s the story. The plot may not sound too novel, but the achievement of Bolt is in the details and making of the movie.

Every scene and every action taken by the characters is resplendently incorporated into the progression of the story. Yes, the animation is awesome, but the magic is in the way things play out. You wouldn’t think there’d be much to a movie where a dog, a cat, and a hamster make their way across the country. Just watch the movie and see if you’re not surprised by the way it unfolds.

Unlike Wall-e, which was an adult-centered movie, and unlike Kung Fu Panda, which had great appeal for kids and for adults alike, Bolt is more kid-focused (perhaps a little too much so). Some humor can be appreciated by adults, but this one’s mostly for younger audiences. There is less suspense in Bolt and you can pretty much see where the story is headed from the start, but its heartwarming appeal and rich script makes it a movie that stands out in bins-full of merely quaint kid’s movies.

John Travolta is the voice for Bolt. Susan Essman is the talent behind the sly, selfish, street-witted alley cat. Rhino the hamster is Bolt’s number one fan, knowing only the glories of Bolt from the big screen. A lot is working against them, including the pound, and so the journey will not be easy.

The role that the humans play is secondary to that of the animals, as you might have imagined it would be, but the Hollywood directors take third spot. They aren’t glamorized in the film, and neither is the reputed treatment of animal actors. In a clever way, the roles of each class are maintained, with special focus on the story of the animals.

The intelligence and uniqueness of the script is stunning. It’s no wonder it ran away with two Golden Globe nominations, including Best Animated Feature Film. A- for Bolt, a lovable and sweet film, one of the very best animated films of 2008.

(JH)

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Directors: Byron Howard, Chris Williams
Starring (voice cast): John Travolta “Bolt,” Miley Cyrus “Penny,” Susie Essman “Mittens,” Mark Walton “Rhino,” Malcolm McDowell “Dr. Calico,” James Lipton “The Director,” Greg Germann “The Agent”
Genre: Animation/Comedy/Family/Fantasy

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