It has been nearly three years since Disney and Pixar settled their differences, leading one company to buy the other. But while Disney technically owns the Pixar label now, the minds that created Pixar in the first place have been calling the shots at Disney Animation ever since the merger—and the first significant result of their efforts is Bolt, a cartoon that could perhaps be best described as "Pixar Lite."

The movie—which concerns a dog who stars on a hit TV show and is accidentally stranded in another part of the country—was originally conceived by Chris Sanders, whose Lilo & Stitch was one of the very few bona fide animated hits to come out of the Mouse House in recent years. But when Pixar chief John Lasseter took the reins at Disney, he dismissed Sanders from the project and gave the job of directing this film to Byron Howard and Chris Williams, both of whom had worked there as writers and artists but neither of whom had ever directed a feature-length film before.

Characters were redesigned, the story was rewritten, Lasseter took an executive-producer credit, and the end result is a film that borrows more than a few elements from Pixar's earlier films—including, thankfully, some of their heart.

Take the character of Bolt (voice of John Travolta) himself. He's a dog who plays a genetically-altered super-mutt named Bolt on a TV show named Bolt—but, like Buzz Lightyear in the first Toy Story, he doesn't realize that he's living in a world of fiction. He thinks the TV show is real, and that he is really lifting cars with his teeth and burning holes through metal objects with his laser vision, and that Penny (Miley Cyrus), the girl who raised him, really needs him to protect her every week. He doesn't ...

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Bolt
Our Rating
3 Stars - Good
Average Rating
 
(3 user ratings)ADD YOURSHelp
Mpaa Rating
PG (for some mild action and peril)
Directed By
Byron Howard, Chris Williams
Run Time
1 hour 36 minutes
Cast
John Travolta, Miley Cyrus, Susie Essman, Mark Walton
Theatre Release
November 21, 2008 by Walt Disney Studios
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