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All decked out in awesome 3D animation, Bolt is hilarious and action-packed, the perfect holiday movie.


Walt Disney animation's first foray into 3D 'toon making isn't just a technical triumph, it thankfully also tells the clever story of Bolt (John Travolta). He's a superstar TV canine who believes the superpowers he displays weekly on his series are for real --especially when it comes to the protection of his master and co-star Penny (Miley Cyrus). One day, however, the dog is accidentally shipped from his Hollywood soundstage to New York City. Lost, alone and confused on the streets of the Big Apple, Bolt is still living the show, vowing to get to Penny who he believes has been kidnapped by the "green-eyed man." And so he embarks on a cross-country journey to L.A. to save Penny. Along the way he is joined by an abandoned, wily housecat Mittens (Susie Essman) and a TV-loving hamster, Rhino (Mark Walton), who believes everything he sees on the tube is ALSO real. Of course, Bolt is in for rude awakening when he finds out he is just a regular dog, but he still needs to get to Penny -- even if it means she might not be there for him when he returns.


Disney is not a studio that generally depends on superstar voices for their animated films, but in casting Travolta and tween queen Cyrus, they have scored a bullseye. Travolta's Bolt is a delightful cross between the self-assured superstar and a pooch in denial. The actor doesn't phone it in but instead creates an original and loveable dog that stands proudly in Disney's large canon of canine greats. The action scenes created for Bolt's TV series are lots of fun and the interactions with his traveling companions are choice. As Penny, Cyrus is sympathetic, sincere, and she even gets to sing a duet with Travolta, "I Thought I Lost You," which she co-wrote. The show is nearly stolen, though, by comedian Susie Essman (Curb Your Enthusiasm) as Mittens -- a smart, determined and emotionally wounded pet cat abandoned by her owners and forced to wander the streets alone. And by Mark Walton, as the hilarious Rhino, the obsessive fanboy hamster who rolls around in his ball. Walton is actually an animator in real life who happened to be so good at voicing Rhino during tests, they just gave him the job.


Disney vets Chris Williams and Byron Howard capably usher the venerable Disney label into the brave new world of 3D animation, and the results are promising -- putting the audience right in the center of Bolt's universe. The TV series action set pieces are particularly effective in using the technology. It's not even necessary to see the film in 3D because the whole CG process has come a long way in a few short years, and Bolt is one of the best looking, most accomplished animated films in memory -- glasses or no glasses. Williams and Howard expertly blend humor, pathos and blockbuster-style action scenes effortlessly giving "Bolt" an appeal beyond just the target kid demo.

Bottom Line rated this film 3 1/2 stars.