Thu, Nov 20, 2008 (midnight)
Hollywood canine Bolt (voiced by Travolta) doesn’t realize that he’s not really the superpowered dog he plays on a popular TV show. So when he accidentally gets shipped from LA to New York City and has to find his way back to owner/co-star Penny (Cyrus), he’s in for a rude awakening. At first unwilling to accept his average-dogness, Bolt kidnaps a scrappy cat named Mittens (Essman) who he believes is in league with his TV show’s villain, and then picks up a hyperactive hamster named Rhino (Walton) who also happens to be Bolt’s biggest fan (Rhino doesn’t understand that Bolt’s adventures are fake, either).
The trio embark on an Incredible Journey/Milo & Otis-style trek from one end of the country to the other (including a CGI Vegas), along the way learning all the life lessons that you might expect. Although executive-produced by Pixar’s John Lasseter, Bolt (from Disney’s central animation studio) isn’t nearly up to Pixar standards, but it looks impressive and has its share of entertaining moments, courtesy of the exuberant Rhino and a succession of humorously skeptical pigeons. The story’s simple messages aren’t heavy-handed, and the occasional showbiz in-jokes will keep adults mildly amused.
Mild amusement is about the best you can hope for, but Bolt never bores, and is paced briskly enough that the satisfying ending comes at just the right time. It’s the kind of solid, middle-of-the-road entertainment that Disney can reliably churn out while audiences await the next exciting achievement from Lasseter’s cohorts at Pixar.