Cinema Mishmash

A personal and random look at movies, past and present

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Bolt

March 28th, 2009 · No Comments

I rarely begin watching an animated film produced by an American studio with high expectations. There is apparently something about creating a film aimed at both children and adults that tends to bring out the worst tendencies in organizations already trying too hard for broad-based appeal.  Having said that, when an exception comes along, it is cause for minor celebration. boltGirl-and-her-dog road movie Bolt, while certainly no Wall-E, and unlikely to cause panic at Studio Ghibli, impressed me with a thematic and narrative structure I didn’t expect to find underneath a tale in which a John Travolta-voiced canine learns the hard way that he is not the bionic superdog he plays on TV. Part of the attraction, and most of the laughs, come from supporting characters Rhino (a hamster whose exercise ball is apparently made of rose colored glass) and Mittens (an alley cat with, brace yourself, a backstory and emotional subtext). Not coincidentally, I would argue, these two characters are voiced not by recognizable “names” but by storyboard / voice artist Mark Walton and character actress Susie Essman. They are both terrific. While many of a given years’ animated films go merely for one-liners and visual sight gags (often with more misses than hits) screenwriters Dan Fogelman and Chris Williams (who co-directed with Byron Howard) prove that story and character development are as important to pixelated actors as they are to breathing ones.

Tags: Animation · Capsule · Family

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