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Monday, November 24, 2008


It should probably be obvious to long-time readers that I was bound to go nuts for Bolt. I am a sucker for Disney animation anyway, but for them to make a movie about a girl and her dog ~ well, can you imagine? That just levels me. You know that tradition insists that in the movies dogs always belong with boys because dogs represent male things. Don’t ask me why. They just do. Girls in movies always have horses or cats as pets. I don’t think I have to hammer you over the head with the Freudian implications of having a horse named Flicka, a big black, muscular animal that bucks and rubs a pubescent miss in her National Velvet regions. Mm-huh. And as for having a friendly feline in a young gal’s lap… well, need I say more? How tender is the movie that includes an innocent girl stroking her well-groomed pussy while displaying her charms to her leading man-child?

Finally, though, Disney has broken stereotypes and butched up its usually submissive main maiden and given
Bolt (barked by John Travolta; Hairspray) an owner who is a strong lass, red-haired Penny (voiced by creepy “I’m everywhere” teen queen Miley Cyrus of “Hannah Montana” notoriety). Penny is an actress who puts Bolt through his paces on a television series (think of it as a 21st century “Lassie”) while keeping it a secret from her beloved dog. Why? It’s part of a bizarre conspiracy cooked up by the Director of the show (James Lipton; “Inside the Actors’ Studio”) to ensure that the expressions on Bolt’s face are genuine in every scene. He believes that if the audience recognizes that Bolt thinks what is happening is real then they will buy it too. Apparently it works because the show is a tremendous hit even if Bolt is a complete dolt.

The premise of the tv series hangs on a continuing story about an evil “green-eyed man” aka Dr. Calico (voiced by Malcolm McDowell; tv’s “Heroes”), who supposedly is after Penny’s genius “father” (Sean Donnellan;The Kingdom), forcing Penny and her super-powered dog,
Bolt, to rescue Dad and save the world week after week after week. That turns into a BIG problem later because Bolt has no idea his amazing antics are the result of rigged choreography and machinery by the effects staff of the show. He really does think he is responsible for breaking through cement walls, burning holes through bars with his heat vision, and causing earthquakes with his bark. Now that I think about it, maybe this explains why boys and dogs are usually matched together. Hmmm.

So, in order to give the movie a plot, Bolt accidently gets himself shipped to New York City from Los Angeles. I know it’s only a cartoon, but I kept thinking that by the time the box got to NYC I’d expect the dog to either be dead, thirsty, or have crapped all over himself and the box, so that when the package got delivered the guy on the receiving end would be going “Whoo-wee! What is that nasty smell?” the second the box hit the floor. Instead, Bolt pops out as fresh as a daisy and without so much as a need for a soda.

Bolt makes it in New York he can make it anywhere; soon enough, he hooks up with a hard-as-nails alley cat named Mittens (Susie Essman; “Curb Your Enthusiasm”), who really knows the drill when it comes to life on the street. Together, they hit the road to find their way back to Penny since Bolt is still under the impression that he has been kidnapped by “The green-eyed man” to get him far away from “his human” and her “father.” So adventures begin, and most of them involve Bolt’s slow realization that maybe ~ just maybe ~ he isn’t as super as he has always believed. I won’t spoil these bits for you as they are hysterically funny, and Mittens vacillates between taunting tormentor to sympathetic best friend as time passes.

The best plot development has to be when Bolt and Mittens go begging for food in an RV park and meet up with a hamster named Rhino (Mark Walton; Chicken Little). The little guy in his “busy ball” is all adrenaline and adoration for Bolt. With nothing else to do all day, Rhino is a television addict, and so he believes everything coming from “the magic box” is real. Bolt is his hero. Meanwhile, Bolt is completely confused and thinks that if Rhino has been observing his movements on a monitor then his top secret standing has been compromised. Rhino is a ridiculously silly character but his presence gives such a lift to the picture. He approaches everything at a manic pitch, somewhere between hysteria and panic, but that just makes him all the funnier. He’s kind of a rodent version of Jerry Seinfeld on crack.

This is a decidedly odd trio, but they work well together despite their different personalities and species. Perhaps this is a hint to kids to be accepting to all those they find on the playground, whatever their color, shape, or ethnicity. That may be
Bolt’s real hidden message, if there is supposed to be one. I guess all of these children’s films are supposed to have an agenda, so that is the best I can come up with other than it’s not okay to lie to your dog, but I doubt most parents give a whoop-de-doo about that one.

I must say it was very nice to see an animated John Travolta for a change. The non-animated
Travolta has been working my nerve the last few years, so I’d rather just hear him than see him for a change. I don’t really hold any animosity towards Johnny Boy, but I just wish he’d be honest with the world. He needs to come out of the closet about his boyfriend AND about his tacky hairpiece. Now, I don’t care two diddles about who he sleeps with, but after he was photographed publicly swapping spit with this guy and the pictures were published all over the world, it is just hypocritical to pretend that he is still the “family values” family man. Pul-ease. You can’t be one of those and call Tommy-Girl Cruise your best friend anyway. Maybe Xenu and the rest of the Scientoloonies respect that, but I don’t. Still, my biggest gripe with Johnny is that fur ball on his head. It looks like somebody shaved a beaver and then stapled its tail on there. If you look at any high resolution picture of Travolta (even his own publicity photos) and enlarge the picture to 150% of normal it is easy to see the lace netting around the edges of his toupee. Oh Honey, that is just so Beyoncé.

I will give John credit though that he chose a great character for his animated counterpart. Bolt and Johnny Boy have a lot in common. Bolt has some fake hair (his lightning bolt) and so does John, Bolt is about as sharp as a donut and so is John, and both of them don’t seem to be too bothered when strange guys come sniffing around their rear ends. I just hope he knows I kid because I love.

Actually, Bolt is a terrific comedy and it may even leave a little lump in your throat during the inevitably sweet moment of reunion between dog and girl. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

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