In recent years, Disney plus Pixar has led to some terrific animated features, but Disney minus Pixar has led to yearnings to locate the nearest auditorium exit. Bolt is straight-up Disney, which would be worrisome if it wasn't for the fact that Pixar guru John Lasseter has been handed the keys to the studio's entire animation department. So while Bolt isn't a Pixar production, it falls under the auspices of Lasseter (billed on this title as executive producer), and that might possibly be the reason this fast-paced confection is far better than such studio sourballs as Chicken Little and Treasure Planet.
But make no mistake: This is still a long way from the giddy heights of the Pixar pack. It mixes the ADD speed of a Nickelodeon toon project with narrative elements from The Incredible Journey, as Bolt (voiced by John Travolta), a canine who believes he really possesses the superpowers he employs on his hit TV series, gets separated from his owner/co-star Penny (Miley Cyrus) and ends up crossing the country in search of her. It's entertaining while it lasts but dissipates from memory the moment it's over, a condition predicated on the fact that neither the noble, stiff Bolt nor the typical toon preteen Penny are especially dynamic characters. There are some clever inside-Hollywood touches, but the lack of any real dramatic tension means that the scripters are ultimately forced to turn to a burning building to serve as the "villain" of the piece. Still, the visual design is inventive (the film is screening in 3-D at select theaters), and kids and adults alike are sure to love the character of Rhino (Mark Walton), a portly hamster always on the go in his plastic ball. Whenever he's on screen, you can be sure he keeps the movie rolling.
Visit www.qccltv.com to see the trailer.