A cute dog thinks he has superpowers and must rescue his owner in “Bolt.” But, when Bolt gets lost on the other side of the country, he must make his way from New York to Hollywood with the help of a cat and a hamster while learning the superpowers he thinks he has are actually the product of a television production as he is the star of a hit show and doesn’t know it.
This film from 2008 is considered the last film of the Post- Renaissance Era of Disney animation and, in my opinion, it’s the best of that era. The plot is certainly basic. It’s simple and a bit formulaic, but that doesn’t make it bad at all. In fact, following the crazy antics of “Meet the Robinsons,” the hyper focus on 3D animation of “Chicken Little” and the downright awful film that was “Home on the Range;” doing something basic and predictable was probably Disney’s best bet.
This was a timeframe where Disney was struggling against the might of Pixar. In the 2000s, Pixar was churning out original movie after original movie and almost all of them were hits. Meanwhile, Disney was looking to change its image. Following the roaring success of the Disney Renaissance of the 1990s, Disney’s 2000s films weren’t holding up. They would have some minor hits, but several of their films failed to bring back their budgets at the box office. “Bolt” was one of the few successes of the period and it serves as a bridge from the flops of the mid-2000s into what we now call the Disney Revival Era of the 2010s.
The real weakness of this film is the cast. John Travolta has been a star for years and this certainly could’ve been his resurgence, but I don’t remember him being in too many big hits after this. Meanwhile, Miley Cyrus, who was certainly a star at the time due to the success of “Hannah Montana,” was an excellent selection for the time who seems odd in retrospect. Her voice doesn’t really match what I think the character of Penny should. She did a solid job voicing the character, but it feels out of place to me. Obviously, with Miley Cyrus in the film, they were going to have Miley Cyrus sing the movie’s theme. That didn’t work for me. I never cared for her music whether it was her innocent work as a kid or her more risque work of today. I just don’t like her singing.
This film will not stand up against legendary films like “Cinderella,” “The Lion King” or “Frozen.” It’s not the once in a generation film that speaks to all kids. It’s a fun time, but not a lot more. It was exactly what Disney needed in 2008. It’s a nice film in the Disney canon, but that’s it. Still, watch and enjoy. It’s worth a watch.
Ranking: 3 stars out of 5
What did you think of “Bolt?”