There is, I am told, an insatiable need for children’s films at the moment. Parents are desperate for movies that they can take the kids to, or put on the DVD player to get an hour and a half of peace. If that movie should happen to be something that an adult would enjoy as well, so much the better. In my experience, which I grant you is sparse, kids don’t really care. They can watch Winnie the Pooh or The Incredibles over and over again. It’s the parents who get bored. Plus they’re the ones with all the money, so I suspect this market is driven by adults.

Which is why there are a lot of really good children’s films.

Bolt ranks somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. Nobody will ever confuse it with a Pixar or a classic Disney film, but it’s a cut above most cheap productions that are rushed out to kids. It concerns a dog, voiced by John Travolta, that is the star of an action TV show in which he has super powers and saves his human, Penny, voiced by Miley Cyrus every week. The hitch is that in order to get a more believable performance out of the dog, the producers have convinced him that he actually is a superhero. The scenes are shot with hidden cameras and microphones. One Friday night, when Bolt is alone in his trailer, a couple of smart alec cats decide to mess with Bolt’s brain by convincing him that Penny has been kidnapped by the show’s main villain. In a panic Bolt escapes and manages to mail himself to New York, where he has to make his way across country back to Hollywood. He picks up a street smart cat named Mittens, voiced by Susie Essman and a hampster named Tank, voiced by Mark Walton who’s even more deluded than Bolt is.

Some thought went into this. I like how the scriptwriters addressed their ridiculous premise and actually came up with reasons as to why you want to delude a dog into thinking that he has superpowers. They also gave a little glimpse at how you would do that. And at the same time write a touching story with a decent emotional core.

The animators did their homework too. If you live with a dog, you will be very impressed with Bolt’s movements. I didn’t really notice the animation in general, which probalby means they did a decent job. I saw the film in a regular theater but I’m told that in 3D, it’s really spectacular.

Bolt is a worthy addition to the Disney cannon.


2 Responses to “Bolt”

  1. 1 Mark Anderson November 29, 2008 at 7:07 pm

    I have not seen Bolt so this comment is necessarily peripheral to the issues addressed by the review. That said, something that interests me about this review and several of your others is that, on the one hand, they are very competently composed; clear, concise, points well made and placed in their proper order. Your grasp of standard English is obviously strong. But on the other hand, you very frequently give your words spellings which are obviously NOT standard English. In the current (quite short) piece, for example, you write “hampster” instead of “hamster” and “cannon” instead of “canon”, and such eccentric spellings are quite common in your reviews. The naive explanation is that you just dash these reviews off with one hand while brushing your teeth with the other, then post them without a second glance and that under those circumstances a few typos creep in naturally. But your writing doesn’t read that way — it reads like it was edited with some care. And yet the unusual spellings survive this editing. Are they some sort of literary fashion statement that is far over the heads of hicks like myself?

  2. 2 theotherebert November 30, 2008 at 2:21 pm

    First of all thanks for the kind words that you did say about my entries. I actually do try to get the reviews out as quickly as I can, so readers can benefit from my advice before the movie in question is gone. It’s not that difficult as there is a formula that most of them adhere to. Still, in the rush, mistakes get made and it is a personal point of honor with me not to tinker with a piece once I’ve clicked the publish button. I often cringe when I reread them. As for the spelling, there’s a reason I went to Ohio State and not Duke! I’m actually surprised that WordPress’s spellchecker didn’t catch the hampster thing. It did just now as I was typing. I’m still not used to WordPress’s ways I guess. As for canon, that’s just sheer ignorance on my part. Professional writers have editors and copy editors to catch those things. I don’t.

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