John Travolta and Miley Cyrus star as the voices of Bolt, a super cool, little, white husky, and, Penny, his adorably, sweet 10-year-old human companion.
The story takes its queue from Jim Carrey's The Truman Show (1998). The difference is that the man being fooled isn't a man. It's a dog.
It's funny, but in Travolta's Look Who's Talking Now (1993), the third in that series of Amy Heckerling movies, Travolta's character owned a dog that talked. It was via a voice-over provided by Danny DeVito, but now the tables have turned, and it's Travolta who's providing the voice of the dog.
Cyrus has some good and sentimental moments, but her character of Penny could have easily come from the same school as Penny from Inspector Gadget (1983), but Cyrus is more or less playing a cartoon version of herself.
Penny is a pre-teen actress on a hit TV show centered around herself playing a special agent fighting evil villains with the aid of her superpowered dog named Bolt. In the opening sequence, we're shown a scene from that show in which we're introduced to Bolt's powers like his super strength, super speed, laser eyes and his signature super bark, which at maximum can be more intense than a sonic boom.
The film co-stars the voice of Susie Essman (Curb Your Enthusiasm and Crank Yankers) who here gets the most laughs, as she plays a streetwise, alley cat named Mittens who has to educate the pampered pooch, Bolt, on how to be a dog and not the sheltered superhero he thinks he is.
Along the way, they encounter a hamster named Rhino who also believes that the TV persona of Bolt is real and who, through insane idolization, basically auditions to be Bolt's sidekick.
A cross-country adventure ensues that engenders a sweet love story between several unlikely parties. There's enough pratfalls to keep both kids and adults laughing from beginning to end, and if you can, go see this film in Disney Digital 3D because the animation even in flat-screen is so textured, eye-popping and life-like that it seems as if you could really reach out and touch it.
The soundtrack features two very powerful and tear-jerking songs including "Barking at the Moon" by Jenny Lewis, the former lead singer of Rilo Kiley and whose vocals have been described as similar to that of Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton. I almost thought she was Dolly Parton when I first heard it.
Yet, stay through the closing credits to be treated to the song "I Thought I Lost You," a duet between Travolta and Cyrus that had me bopping my head.
Five Stars out of Five
Rated PG for mild action
Running Time: 1 hr. and 36 mins.