BOTTOM LINE: A wonderfully entertaining animated film with a strong story and characters, and with an unusual premise that borrows from “The Truman Show”.
THE GOOD: “Bolt” is an unusual film in that all the hallmarks of the typical journey you would find in a movie like this are here but the underlying premise is quite strange. Bolt (voiced by John Travolta) is a dog who is the star of a fictional television show; the twist is that he thinks it’s all real. With superpowers and a devotion to his “person” Penny (Miley Cyrus), Bolt spends his time saving Penny and the world from the green-eyed man, thinking that this is his normal life. When Bolt escapes this world and the television studio by a series of accidents, he finds himself in the real world where he is a normal dog without superpowers, much to his surprise. The resulting interactions between Bolt and the real-life animal characters are quite amusing and touching, particularly with Mittens the cat (Susie Essman) and the devoted hamster Rhino (Mark Walton) who continues to believe Bolt is a super dog even in the real world. Some of the creators behind Disney’s biggest animated films are behind this film and this shows prominently in the fantastic execution of the story and character, and the unusual premise upon which the whole thing rests. The character animation is quite good, particularly in the opening sequence where Bolt first meets Penny in the pet store, which leads in to a hilarious episode of “Bolt” saving the world from the green-eyed man (voiced by an evil sounding Malcolm McDowell). “Bolt” is a wonderfully entertaining animated film that both children and adults can enjoy.
THE BAD: The only aspect to “Bolt” that falls down is in the originality of its premise, or in this case, the lack of it. The idea of a character who does not know his life is a television show was extensively covered in “The Truman Show” with Jim Carrey, and as such, some of what we see here is not new. However, the sincerity of the characters and the amusing situations they find themselves in more than make up for this, to the point where it is not much of an issue.