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A movie directed by Byron Howard and Chris Williams

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'The Truman Show' For Kids

  • Apr 16, 2009
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Welcome back Disney. Far too long have you been in Pixar's shadows. The last big hit you had was with "Lilo & Stitch," a movie that stood out in a sea of duds and lessor attempts, and that was back in 2002. That movie was based off an idea by Chris Sanders, a longtime animator who hit box office gold. Now, after "Home on the Range," "Chicken Little," and several other poor attempts to reclaim your former glory, you have brought us "Bolt," a movie about a dog who run faster then a speeding bullet, is more powerful then a locomotive, and able to take down armies with a single bark. Or, at least, he'd like to think so. Though Bolt (John Travolta) spends his days hanging out with his "person" Penny (Miley Cyrus) and helping her fight the evil Green Eyed Scientist, he's really filming a hit TV show called (what else) Bolt.

But this is no ordinary TV show. It's kind of like an animated version of "The Truman Show," except in this case the show producers try to keep up the illusion to the dog that the show is real. When Penny is kidnaped in a cliffhanger ending though, it's up to Bolt to go save her. Or so he thinks. As you probably know, Bolt has no powers. So instead of making a serious progress to save Penny, he spends his time being overly annoying to a black cat named Mittens, who he believes knows where Penny is (because, you know, cats are linked to mad scientists). Their adventure leads them across America, discovering many eccentric creatures such as wise talking pigeons and a hamster in a rolling ball named Rhino. Though short of an original story, "Bolt" gets high marks for taking an average sounding screenplay and making it work.

The idea was thought up by aforementioned Chris Sanders, who was supposed to direct the film as well, until John Lasseter read an early draft of the script and said it was "too quirky for it's own good." Thus Sanders was let go, and Disney had to produce the film with a couple of new comers. And while I would have been very interested to see what Sanders would have done with the film (the cat in his version had an eye patch, which just made her look cool), I'm happy with the final result. This is actually a good example of how effective movies can be. Here we have one of the silliest ideas for a movie all year, and yet it's written with enough wit and heart that we come to grow invested in it. I'm sure John Travolta could be making movies that make him more money, but his performance of Bolt is filled with the right amount of innocense and braveness that makes him so likely.

We know he's supposed to be annoying, but you've got to love him for his loyalty to his person. Mittens the cat also gets points for having a sympathetic back story, while Rhino provides the token best friend role. On the final end of the spectrum is Penny, played by Miley Cyrus. Truth be told, I don't think Cyrus will ever be a star, and her getting top billing for this role only emphasizes that fact. It's not that Penny is a poor character per se, but she's the least interesting thing is this movie, and is more of a McGuffen then anything else. Hiring a regular high school girl to voice this character would have wielded the same results for a fraction of the price. But now I'm nick picking, as this doesn't matter too much in the long run. The point is "Bolt" is great family fun and one of the more pleasant surprises of the year. Just make sure that, as an added bonus, you see this movie in Digital 3D, for a more three-dimensional atmosphere.

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June 15, 2009
Now this was definitely a great movie to watch. While most people loved UP, I enjoyed Bolt much more! I enjoy reading your reviews, Kevin - hope you're doing well!
June 16, 2009
Yeah, I'm doing well. If you like my reviews, you can look at all the other stuff I do at www.themoviewizard.com.
April 24, 2009
John Travolta was the draw for me (oh yeah and two nagging children)-- I loved this movie- and this is a great review. I would have never compared it to the Truman Show-- but it is a perfectly fitting comparison!
April 24, 2009
Casting Miley Cyrus seems to be the tactic in attracting the hordes of prepubescent teens who might otherwise have overlooked this film. Oddly (or predictably), it's had the opposite effect on me.
After reading this review, I may have to reassess and give this film a shot. Nicely done.
April 26, 2009
Oh, I know that Disney hired Cyrus to voice a character in hopes of tween money. Problem was the movie shared theater space with "Twilight," which has a much bigger pull with tween audiences.
More Bolt reviews
review by . October 22, 2009
Within the past few years, Disney movies that don't have Pixar attached typically tend to be forgettable.  Meet the Robinsons was funny but so random and jumbled that telling anyone just what the movie was about was a pain.  So when Bolt came out without Pixar to it (and having to follow the absurdly over the top Meet the Robinsons) it was easy to be a little skeptical.  Without Pixar (or Johnny Depp) it doesn't seem that Disney does so great on their own.  Yet for what it's …
Quick Tip by . May 31, 2010
Fun for the whole family
review by . July 23, 2009
The main reason for putting off watching this movie was lack of a child visitor in the house. With the arrival of my 3-year-old niece, we've been catching up on 'family' films.    I had pretty neutral expectations of this movie only to find my level of satisfaction rather high at the end.    It reminded me a great deal of 'The Brave Little Toaster' from back in the day, but is otherwise a classic tale of a motley crew finding friendship and making their way …
review by . July 03, 2009
This was such a great film. The visuals are stunning and you can tell the animators actually cared (no thrown together film for these guys!). It's funny - really funny. I think Rhino stole the show myself though :)    Yes, it's about a dog and it's a feel good family movie. Ho hum, Ho hum, right? Not quite. It's a little bit more than that, I thought. A stand-out film to be sure. My kids loved it and so did the adults. I think this might be the most surprising film I saw last …
review by . June 20, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
You know the formula, classic Walt Disney. Some cute and cuddly lead character, attacked by a black evil character, scare the little kids for a while, there's a big fight, and the cute and cuddly lead character wins. If you love the Disney formula, this film is a total winner. Hate that formula, and well you just won't enjoy this film.     Animation has certainly made a ton of progress in the past few years. This movie is no exception. Where the Incredibles (The Incredibles (Two-Disc …
review by . January 30, 2009
Mittens: [to Bolt] The real world hurts, doesn't it?     Short Attention Span Summary (SASS):     1. Bolt (John Travolta) is a pup with super strength, laser vision, and all the other good stuff that comes with the portfolio of "superhero"   2. That is, once he's on the movie set of his hit series   3. He's never been off the movie set   4. He's totally devoted to his owner Penny (the ubiquitous Miley Cyrus)   5. Unforeseen …
review by . April 28, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
I admit that I really wasn't that excited to see BOLT. An animal road trip movie featuring the voices of John Travolta and Miley Cyrus? It really didn't sound that interesting to me. However, I was wrong. BOLT is a much more entertaining and enjoyable movie than I expected and after viewing it I would gladly watch it again.    Bolt (John Travolta) is the star of his own tv show with his owner, Penny (Miley Cyrus). In the show, Penny's dad is a world-class scientist who is wanted …
review by . April 01, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Frankly, I did not know what to expect when I took three grandchildren to see this film immediately after it arrived in Dallas months ago. We saw it at an IMAX theater in 3-D, an experience that reminded me of a time when (at their age) I was startled when Vincent Price began to hit a rubber ball with a wooden paddle at me and others in the audience at the Shore theatre in Chicago. This time around, I was soon unaware of the paper glasses and concentrated on an especially clever plot. Briefly, Bolt …
review by . February 10, 2009
Bolt is such a good movie! Bolt is a dog with superpowers working in the world of espionage with his "person" Penny...or so he thinks. Truth is that Bolt works in a T.V. show and he doesn't even know it. The producers have gone to extreme lengths to hide this from Bolt (hiding the microphones, etc.) just so that his "performance" is real. But then Bolt is inadvertently shipped all the way across the country and exposed to the real world. He must come to terms with the fact that he does not have …
review by . August 18, 2007
posted in Music Matters
Pros: Zesty, exotic, hard, perfect for the movie     Cons: Not as gripped as I thought I would be.     The Bottom Line: I thought I would be listening to this soundtrack over and over. Sad to say I was wrong.     Hans Zimmer with bite. That’s how I would describe this soundtrack. Tyler Bates, the composer, has a bit of Zimmer’s style, but throws in some spices, plenty of flair, and a lot of violence. You get 300 out of it. I enjoyed …
About the reviewer
Kevin T. Rodriguez ()
Ranked #127
Kevin T. Rodriguez is an aspiring film journalist. He's more comfortable typing a review then doing an on-camera appearance, but he loves doing the occasional rant. Whether it be on movies, eBay, or comics, … more
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About this movie


Boltis a funny animated film about a dog who thinks he has superpowers. It is also a movie about friendship, perseverance, and the power of believing in oneself. Everyone knows that superheroes on television are not real, but super-dog Bolt (John Travolta) is a canine star who has been carefully raised to believe that he really possesses superpowers. Bolt is completely devoted to his human co-star Penny (Miley Cyrus), so when Penny is captured by the evil Dr. Calico (Malcolm McDowell) in their latest television episode and then Bolt accidentally gets loose in the real world, Bolt sets off on a journey to save her. Bolt is confounded when his super powers are suddenly ineffective, but inspiration strikes and Bolt quickly discovers the mysterious, power-stealing effects of Styrofoam packing peanuts. An encounter with alley cat Mittens (Susie Essman) gives Bolt some eye-opening lessons about being a real dog in the real world, while star-struck, ball-enclosed hamster Rhino (Mark Walton) revels in the opportunity to serve as Bolt's sidekick in the quest to rescue Penny. The trio traverses the United States from waffle house to waffle house on a hysterical quest to find Penny and prove that the relationship between Penny and Bolt is real. In the end, Bolt, Mittens, and Rhino learn that everyone is special in their own way and they discover the true power of believing in oneself and one's friends. Select theaters showed Bolt in Real-D 3-D which features some nice effects, ...
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Movies, Comedy Movies, Comedy, Animated Movies, Animation, Kids, Children, Disney, Family, Animated, Adventure Movies, 3d, Cartoons & Animation, Feature Film Family, Animal Picture, Adventure Comedy, Abc Video


Genre: Animation, Comedy, Family
Release Date: March 24, 2009
MPAA Rating: PG
Screen Writer: Chris Williams, Dan Fogelman
DVD Release Date: March 22, 2009
Runtime: 97 minutes
Studio: Walt Disney Studios
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