Bolt barked the end of Disney’s long experimental Post-Renaissance era. Although John lasseter was around when Meet the Robinsons was being made, Bolt is really where his influence came in. Elevating Walt Disney animation into something that made greater use of its computer animation. Fur, environments, and lighting are far crisper with backgrounds made to look like paintings. Like more than half of the movies released in the era, Bolt is totally original. The story for Disney’s forty-eighth feature was always about a TV star dog, but it was originally titled American Dog. Lasseter took the idea and gave it the old Pixar charm. Despite the near critical acclaim and Best Animated Feature nomination Bolt received, the box-office performance was still average. Bolt was a major stepping stone for the subsequent Revival era, but I wouldn’t consider it to be the start of it.
Bolt unfortunately faded into obscurity. Something that happens to most non-musical animated Disney movies. I was part of the problem since my brother and I didn’t see Bolt in theaters for whatever reason. I guess at 13 years old, I thought it seemed a bit mainstream. We absolutely loved Bolt when we saw it of DVD not long after. Ironically, we didn’t see the first movie of the Post-Renaissance in theaters either. Proof of how spotty that era really was. Bolt is a little like The Truman Show in how it portrays a celebrity who doesn’t know they’re on a TV show. Bolt the Superdog is the hottest thing on television, but the heroic White Shepherd doesn’t know that. He thinks his person Penny is really in danger of a cat stroking green-eyed villain called Dr. Calico. Which is all a gimmick to boost ratings for the true villains, sleazy Hollywood agents.
He’s an odd choice, but John Travolta brings a lot of personality to the confused canine. Casting Miley Cyrus as Penny was obvious commentary about her role on Hannah Montana. Both Cyrus & Travolta contribute a strong original song titled “I Thought I Lost You” for the movie. When Bolt thinks Penny is still in danger, he inadvertently winds up in the real world without the powers he thinks he possesses. While lost in New York, pigeons direct him to a feral cat that he assumes is working with Calico. Streetwise cat with a past Mittens is dragged on Bolt’s mission to get back to Penny. The cross country trip to Hollywood is filled with clever misunderstandings and fun animal humor. The comedy really kicks in when Bolt fanatic Rhino the hamster roles in with his hamster ball. They make an unusual trio that learn an expected lesson about what’s truly important in life. Without sacrificing Bolt’s true heroism in the end. Bolt is a super, heartfelt treat, and a crucial piece in Disney’s renewed success moving forward.