John Travolta as Bolt (voice)
Miley Cyrus as Penny (voice)
Susie Essman as Mittens (voice)
Mark Walton as Rhino (voice)
Malcolm McDowell as Dr. Calico (voice)
James Lipton as The Director (voice)
Greg Germann as The Agent (voice)
Diedrich Bader as Veteran Cat (voice)
Nick Swardson as Blake (voice)
J.P. Manoux as Tom (voice)
Dan Fogelman as Billy (voice)
Kari Wahlgren as Mindy (voice)
Chloe Moretz as Young Penny (voice)
Randy Savage as Thug (voice)
Ronn Moss as Dr. Forrester (voice)
Grey DeLisle as Penny’s Mom (voice)
Sean Donnellan as Penny’s TV Dad (voice)
Lino DiSalvo as Vinnie (voice)
Todd Cummings as Joey (voice)
Tim Mertens as Bobby (voice)
Kelly Hoover as Ester (voice)
Brian Stepanek as Martin (voice)
Jeff Bennett as Lloyd (voice)
Daran Norris as Louie (voice)
John Di Maggio as Saul (voice)

“Bolt” is a pleasant surprise from Disney. With great character animation, hilarious jokes, cool action scenes, and a strong supporting cast, this is a movie that will not only entertain families but adult audiences as well. Definitely check it out in 3-D if you can.

Bolt is the world’s greatest super-dog. He is incredibly fast, is super strong, has heat vision, and has a super bark. He uses his powers to save the world from the evil Dr. Calico. Bolt is also ever vigilant and protects his owner, Penny, from the forces of evil.

Too bad Bolt doesn’t realize he’s on a TV show and none of it is real.

When Bolt is accidentally separated from Penny, he’s forced to make a cross-country journey to save his owner. The catch is he still thinks he has super powers. Bolt captures a cat prisoner named Mittens and forces her to lead him to where Penny is being held. Despite her protests, Mittens can’t convince Bolt that he’s just the star of a TV show. Matters aren’t helped when a Bolt super-fanboy (and hamster in a ball) named Rhino joins them and further reinforces Bolt’s delusions.

Will Bolt be reunited with Penny? And what will happen when Bolt realizes he’s just a normal dog?

“Bolt” is rated PG for some mild action and peril.

What Worked:
I’ll start out by saying that I saw this in 3-D and it was very cool. Any time you can see an animated film in 3-D, it instantly bumps it up a notch in the ratings for me. Not only is it a cool effect, but it gives you greater appreciation for the CG animation. When Bolt and Mittens are in the woods, every single plant and blade of grass pops off of the screen. When Rhino rolls around in his ball, you start noticing details like the transparency in the plastic. When Bolt is in a fire, the embers float off of the screen towards you. You just start noticing little details that you might never spot in a 2-D presentation. If you can see “Bolt” in 3-D, I recommend you do so.

I saw the “Bolt” presentation at the San Diego Comic Con, so I knew I was in for a treat. I was a little dismayed to find out they showed us a good portion of the movie at SDCC, but there was enough here to still keep me entertained. It was also fun to see my family discover it for the first time.

“Bolt” starts out as an action film as we’re treated to the TV show world. Penny and Bolt are attacked by a variety of goons in helicopters, on motorcycles, and other stuff. The opening scene is as exciting and imaginative as anything in a James Bond flick. You start wondering, “How can they top this?” as Bolt is thrown into the real world. It’s at this point that the movie switches gears and turns from action to comedy. Fortunately, the comedy is just as strong as the action.

I was impressed how practically every new character that was introduced along the way brought an entertaining piece to the story. A couple of cats (one voiced by Diedrich Bader) amusingly harass Bolt in his trailer. In New York, Bolt encounters a funny group of pigeons that are perfectly animated like real world pigeons. When we meet Mittens, her exasperation and dismay at Bolt’s high levels of crazy brings a lot of laughs. But the real show stealer is the hamster Rhino who is voiced by Mark Walton. He brings the house down and the character’s introduction alone takes the movie to another level. Rhino’s uber-fanboy persona and can-do attitude is hilarious. How can you not crack up when a hamster in a ball does a maniacal laugh or offers to snap a man’s neck? Rhino might be able to carry a movie on his own.

The supporting cast is so strong that Bolt is almost relegated to the role of straight man. John Travolta does a fine job as Bolt and gives the character a sympathetic and earnest tone. Miley Cyrus is also good as Penny, but she’s not in the movie all that much. Where the two really shine is in the song they sing together in the closing credits. “I Thought I Lost You” features the teen pop starlet and the “Grease” superstar singing together in a nice duet that the two apparently actually wrote together. But as far as voice performances go, Susie Essman really stands out as Mittens. She’s funny, sassy, and a great heroine. Essman really brings the character to life.

The animators do a really great job with the performances of the CG characters. A standout scene is when Mittens is teaching Bolt how to beg for food. By giving him little instructions here and there (“Ears down! Head tilted!”), Bolt goes from a neutral facial expression to an all out “I’m cute, feed me” look right before your eyes. That scene should be required viewing for any aspiring animator. The subtle touches with body motions and facial expressions are apparent through the rest of the film.

What Didn’t Work:
The only times “Bolt” really stalled were whenever the film went ‘Hollywood.’ By that I mean scenes where the director goes on a long monologue about dog ‘method acting’ or any scene with Penny’s slimy agent. Whenever the camera diverts away from the animals and onto the humans, the pacing seemed to slow down. Other than that I have no real complaints about “Bolt.”

The Bottom Line:
“Bolt” was a fun film. I’d recommend it not just for families but anyone that enjoys comedies or animation. This is not just a kid’s movie.