Classic pet road movies The Incredible Journey (1963) and Homeward Bound (1993) meet The Truman Show in heart-tugging Disney animation.
Child actress Penny (voiced by Miley Cyrus) and dog Bolt (John Travolta) star in a hit TV series in which they must constantly thwart the evil plans of Dr Calico (Malcolm McDowell). The dog believes it’s all real, so when he escapes from his trailer and ends up the other side of the country he’s in for a few rude surprises. The journey back to his beloved Penny and his final epiphany are accompanied by cynical street cat Mittens (Susie Essman) and TV obsessed hamster Rhino (Mark Walton).
With its chequered production history of usurped directors and shortened deadlines (changes made by incoming Chief Creative Officer John Lasseter, formerly of Pixar, enabled the studio to cut the schedule from the usual four years to just 18 months), Bolt should look like the proverbial canine supper. That it works in that way that only the good Disney films do (lame comedy, some soft-centred satire and lots of tearjerking) make it easily the best animation the studio has pushed out since 2002’s Lilo and Stitch.
Though allegedly inspired by the paintings of Edward Hopper and the cinematography of Vilmos Close Encounters of the Third Kind Zsigmond and utilising some fancy new technology, Bolt is really just a hobo quest flick, equal parts Preston Sturges and Disney’s own 1955 Lady and the Tramp, it gently evaluates the new depression era American’s grasp on reality in these media engorged times. Bolt is best seen in 3D.
General release from Fri 6 Feb.