Directed by: Byron Howard and Chris Williams
Premise: An animated film about a dog (voice of John Travolta) who is the star of his own action-adventure television show. Bolt’s love for Penny (voice of Miley Cyrus), his owner and the human star of the TV show, is real but the dog believes that all of the adventures of the show are real as well and finds himself confused when he is lost on the streets of New York.
What Works: The animation in Bolt is solid and on par with most other animated features. The story of Bolt takes a step up from some other animated films in that is able to avoid some of the clichés that tend to hinder the genre. Although the film is not groundbreaking like WALL-E, it does manage to come up with some clever scenarios and has a story that is fast paced and very entertaining, although more so for children than adults.
What Doesn’t: The characters of Bolt are not all that interesting and it is one of the areas in which the film lags. The picture borrows from Finding Nemo, a much better film, by pairing Bolt with a female character, in this case a cat voiced by Susie Essman, and making her his guide. But the characters and their relationships have very little texture or depth to them. Although Bolt is humorous in parts, the comedy never really takes off and most of the gags are only mildly amusing. The film is also weak thematically. Where Finding Nemo, WALL-E, and Monsters, Inc. managed to tell an entertaining story and carry the weight of some larger message or idea, Bolt never gets there, remaining wrapped up in itself.
Bottom Line: Bolt is an average film. It will be entertaining to children or hardcore dog lovers but nothing about it is particularly memorable.
Episode: #219 (December 21, 2008)