Director: Chris Williams, Byron Howard
Starring: John Travolta, Miley Cyrus
Studio: The Walt Disney Company
Rated: PG (For some mild action and peril)
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 innocence 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.
Parents have to worry about only a little bit of violence, and even that is limited to explosions and a fire near the end. Should be fine for ages 5 and up.