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Monday, March 22, 2010

BOLT (2008)

A real surprise. This relatively unsung computer animation from Disney (not PIXAR) is a bit cavalier in ‘sampling’ well-known plot twists, but the mix-up from newbie helmers Byron Howard & Chris Williams is bright & winning. Bolt is a rescued pup, brought up to believe he’s the super-hero canine he plays on a cable show. So, when the script has his teen co-star kidnapped, he runs off to save her, and comes face-to-face with . . . the real world! Not the most original concept, but plenty usable. And new enough for its intended audience. Bolt is voiced by John Travolta whose unforced delivery is the best thing he’s done in ages. Miley Cyrus shares top-billing as Bolt’s teen co-star, but it’s more like a glorified supporting gig. The real co-star is an abandoned, street-smart alley cat brilliantly voiced by Susie Essman. (ALLEGRO NON TROPPO/’76 fans may be reminded of the Sibelius/Valse Triste kitty.) But all the supporting animals shine. There’s a nifty hand-drawn sequence that takes us westward on a stylized map of the States and watch for a huge emotional swipe from Chaplin’s THE GOLD RUSH/’25 just before the fiery climax. (Walt would have approved, he stole from Charlie all the time.) Best of all is what’s not in here. No pointless Pop references, no wise-guy gags and not a potty joke in sight. Huzza!

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