Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Preschooler Movie Review: "Bolt"

It was a big movie weekend for the Blogger Preschooler, who couldn't get enough this past weekend of "Wall-E" and "Cars" on DVD. The beautifully made "Wall-E," in particular, made a big impression on Evan -- and me too.

That led to our Sunday visit to the AMC Burbank Media Center 6, where we caught an early matinee of the new Disney animated feature "Bolt." (FYI, the AMC Burbank Media Center 6 costs just $6 for all shows before noon on the weekend and holidays.)

This was big: Evan's first official theatrical movie experience. We took him to a children's short movie festival at the REDCAT earlier this year, and before that took him to a premiere screening of "Handy Manny" at the Arclight when he was a 2-year-old.

Until now, however, the Preschooler wasn't high on spending a long time in a dark theater. Also, some of the Disney and Pixar animated features weren't his cup of tea -- those villains (such as the sharks in "Finding Nemo") can be pretty scary.

But the relative tameness of "Wall-E" and "Cars" gave Evan the confidence to tag along as we took him to the movie theater.

Verdict? He managed to watch the entire thing -- not a foregone conclusion, and there were moments where he told us he was ready to go. (Now, of course, he is raving about his first movie experience -- forgetting how he tried to talk us into leaving!)

The movie itself? Decent, better than many animated features. As the first animated Disney film under Pixar's John Lasseter -- who now serves as Chief Creative Officer of both Pixar's and Disney's animated studios -- "Bolt" retains some of the look, story and heart of a Pixar pic.

But it's no "Wall-E." Or, for that matter, "Cars" or "Finding Nemo."

The story is simple: "Bolt" is the most famous pup on TV, saving his master -- a pre-teen girl named Penny -- from evil. The rub: The real-life Bolt has been led to believe he really is a superhero canine, and not a modern-day Lassie. He somehow escapes and, while making his way back to Hollywood, slowly realizes that he's an ordinary dog. John Travolta is fine as Bolt, while Miley Cyrus -- and her husky, Brenda Vacarro voice -- seems like an unusual choice for Penny.

Meanwhile, it's Disney employee Mark Walton who steals the movie as Rhino, the fan boy hamster whose Comic-Con-style adoration of Bolt is the highlight.

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