Introducing the Newest Great Disney Dog
Originally Released: 2008
Disney has made some great animal films over the years, and two animals in particular seem to garner the most attention: mice (this is Disney we are talking about) and dogs. You can safely add Bolt to the pack of lovable hounds at Disney animation. He fits right in along with the likes of Tramp, Pongo and Perdita, Copper, and so many of the loyal sidekick dogs seen throughout the years.
Interestingly enough, despite Disney’s proven track record when it comes to dog movies, I had no interest in seeing Bolt when it was released in theaters. I don’t know if it was my aversion to anything and everything Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus, if it was the lack of trust in Disney Animation at the time, or if it was simply the saturation of great animated films that came out in 2008 that kept me occupied and satisfied (this was the year of Wall-E, Ponyo, and Kung-Fu Panda). Even after friends and roommates reported to me that they had seen and loved Bolt, I still didn’t take the time to watch the film until this project.
So yeah, after finally watching Bolt, I can say that this movie is pretty dog-gone good (sorry). Not surprisingly, this is the first film in the Disney canon after Disney’s purchase of Pixar in 2006 to really have John Lasseter’s fingerprints on it in his new role of Chief Creative Officer (though it is mentioned in the Meet the Robinsons special features the he was at least involved a little bit in helping flesh out that film). This involvement led to Disney’s dismissal of Director Chris Sanders for this movie, and replacing him with Chris Williams and Byron Howard. Lasseter helped guide the new directors in the direction he felt the movie should go ultimately. So although I’m not sure how much day-to-day stuff John Lasseter did in Bolt, the film does carry itself well and shows signs of that “Pixar touch” with its pacing and payoff in the end.
As side note – I do really enjoy the film that Bolt ultimately became through Williams, Howard, and Lasseter, but after discovering the brilliance of Chris Sanders movies while researching during my Disney project, learning that he was the mastermind behind Lilo and Stitch and How to Train Your Dragon and its sequel, I can’t help but be curious to see how a Chris Sanders version of Bolt would have turned out. Surely it wouldn’t be as bad as Lasseter must have thought it was going to be, right?
But I digress. From an animation standpoint, Walt Disney Animation Studios was really starting to gain some confidence with its 3D animation by this point in time. The animation didn’t reach the heights of Pixar with Wall-E (a magnificent movie, by the way), but I applaud the art direction, animal movements, and character added to the animals on the screen nonetheless.
Speaking of characters, Miley Cyrus really isn’t that bad, and John Travolta does a great job. Rhino is hilarious, both in voice and in animation, and he wonderfully represents that one fanboy that everybody knows – and maybe we are that person, which in that case we can relate to Rhino a little bit. I also really enjoyed the pigeons, with their New York accents and their uncanny, realistically jerky movements (although the team obviously had some inspiration from a certain 90’s cartoon with these guys…).
Musically, there is not much to say, other than that I didn’t notice much with it and I suppose it is appropriate for the movie. It isn’t a distraction, at least. Except, of course, there is this one funny moment in particular that I think is both distracting and a great touch involving Rhino and breaking the 4th wall.
Overall, Bolt is great entertainment and it had no reason to be passed over in 2008. It has no reason to be passed over now, if you haven’t had the chance to check it out yet. I’m glad I finally gave it a chance. Disney can still do the talking dog flick very well.