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Movie Review

Bolt a.k.a. “American Dog,” “Volt, star malgré lui”

MPAA Rating: PG for some mild action and peril.

Reviewed by: Melisa Pollock
CONTRIBUTOR

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Kids, Family
Genre:
Animation, Comedy, Family, Fantasy
Length:
1 hr. 36 min.
Year of Release:
2008
USA Release:
November 21, 2008 (wide)
November 14, 2008 (800 sneak showings)
DVD: March 24, 2009
Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Animals in the Bible

Dogs in the Bible

Fear, Anxiety and Worry… What does the Bible say? Answer

click for Kid Explorers
Adventures in the rainforest! Learn about the Creator of the universe by exploring His marvelous creation. Fun for the whole family with games, activities, stories, answers to children’s questions, color pages, and more! One of the Web’s first and most popular Christian Web sites for children. Nonprofit, evangelical, nondenominational.

VIOLENCE—How does viewing violence in movies affect families? Answer

Featuring: Miley Cyrus
John Travolta
Malcolm McDowell, Diedrich Bader, Nick Swardson, Chloe Moretz, Greg Germann, J.P. Manoux, Ronn Moss, Mark Walton, Susie Essman, Randy Savage, James Lipton, Kari Wahlgren, Sean Donnellan
Director: Chris Williams—“Mulan,” “The Emperor’s New Groove”
Byron Howard
Producer: Walt Disney Animation Studios, Walt Disney Pictures, John Lasseter, Lisa M. Poole, Clark Spencer, Makul Wigert
Distributor: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, Audio Visual Enterprises (Greece), Buena Vista International, Buena Vista Sony Pictures Releasing

“A hero is unleashed.”

“Bolt” is an animated film by Disney. John Travolta is the voice of Bolt, and Miley Cyrus is the voice of Penny. The style of the film is similar to Pixar movies like “Toy Story” and “Monsters, Inc.” In my opinion, the quality of the animation was a little lower than that of “Toy Story” and “Monsters, Inc.”, however, it does not detract from the storyline. The film was entertaining and cute, and it was easy to empathize with the characters. I saw no objectionable content in the film; I enjoyed it and recommend it for viewers of all ages.

In the opening scenes of “Bolt,” we learn that Bolt plays the part of superhero in his own television show; his character’s main objective is to protect Penny. Bolt, however, does not realize or understand that he is acting; he remains true to the character that he plays even when the filming stops.

When ratings begin to fall, the producers decide to end an episode on a cliffhanger. As the episode they are filming is finished, leaving Penny in a very dangerous position, Bolt is frantic to rescue Penny. Penny wants to run to tell Bolt that she is okay. The film producer insists that Bolt must not be told that it’s not real, so that Bolt’s acting will reflect the true emotions of the situation. When they lock Bolt back in his trailer for the evening, he finds a way to escape with only one thing on his mind—to save Penny.

After his escape, he accidentally finds himself shipped to the other side of the country. He meets Mittens the cat, and Rhino, the hamster. Together, they journey to Hollywood to find Penny. One of Bolt’s new friends is very optimistic and supportive while the other is jaded, as someone who has seen too much of the bad side of life. The film follows their journey across the country in search of love—the love of a pet for its owner. Bolt’s journey might also be considered a journey to find himself. He begins to understand what is real and true. His quest to find Penny leads to some tough questions for him: “Who am I? Does she really care? Do I belong there or where do I belong?”

Themes that could spark Biblical discussions include loyalty, search for what is most important, concern or love for others (Can they see it-love is more than words, who we are in Christ, and the knowledge that we will reap what we sow. One instance in the film concerning a deal makes a clear example of someone reaping what they have sown, and it is pointed out by one of the characters, “Hey, she did that to me not ten minutes ago.” The film includes an example that shows love is more than words when Bolt hears Penny telling another animal how much she cares, yet if you keep watching, her actions do not show any real affection—it’s just lines. Bolt’s journey to find Penny might also be a journey where he found himself, sparking a discussion on discovering who we are in Christ.

Bolt is steadfast and fiercely loyal both on the set and off. He is devoted to Penny, a friend who doesn’t give up. Bolt is described as a hero, someone who will do the right thing, no matter what. As one of Bolt’s friends points out, “We all need a hero, someone who will be there to remind us that everything is possible.”

Everyone needs someone who will be there for them during the good times and the bad, someone who is loyal and consistent in their regard for you. Jesus is that person—all you have to do is ask. He will forgive your sins and be Lord of your life, and he promises never to leave or forsake you.

Violence: Moderate / Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: None

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—I liked this movie!! I laughed all throughout and the humorous content was 100% good, clean fun. In fact, there were many times when I wondered if the makers of this movie were alluding to the Bible and if they made Bolt a Christ-like example on purpose. This movie is good for kids to watch, because it encourages faithfulness, light (VERY specific example with Bolt when he says something to the sort of, “Evil never gets you anywhere…”), dreaming (two characters encourage others to not give up), family, and being content with how you look (there was a negative display on plastic surgery in the end of the movie). I went with a large group of my college friends and laughed the entire time. Parents would love it, too. GO SEE THE MOVVVIEEEE, SILLYY!!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Stephanie, age 19
Positive—My husband and I took our 7-year-old to see this movie. My husband fell asleep, but my son and I enjoyed the movie. We liked the puppy, sympathized with the little girl, and (may my own kitty forgive me) disliked the cats. The movie emphasizes gifts such as love, longsuffering, and goodness. Bolt is an admirable character, a hero, and a loyal friend. I recommend this movie to families, but be sure that you reiterate those Godly characteristics with your children as results of a relationship with God!

I found very few offensive elements in the movie: the action was intense for my little boy, and the dog and his owner do “kill” some robotic-type people. I needed to talk to my son about self-defense and protection versus sheer violence. Otherwise, the movie was enjoyable. If you are seeking something for your children to do during the holiday break, I recommend you consider “Bolt.”
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Carie, age 39
Positive—I saw “Bolt” and thought it was a good movie. The 3-D version was excellent and was well worth the extra $2 to see it that way. Loyalty and friendship are the main themes. My only caution is that the PG rating is warranted for a few scenes were characters are in real danger. I wouldn’t recommend it for children under 7 or 8. I over heard several children in the theater asking aloud if the Characters were going to die, or were dead in the final climax (unconscious and trapped in a burning movie set. Overall, a good movie—and I will buy it when it comes out on DVD.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Lee Vancamp, age 34
Positive—I took my children to see the movie, “Bolt.” It was wonderful! We all enjoyed it, kids and adults, alike.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Stacy, age 40
Positive—I want to add a note about moral lessons in this film, in addition to those mentioned in the review. Bolt and Penny begin with all of the things that most of us think we want to achieve, but they find that they are truly happy only when they live the life they were meant to have.

I also want to make an additional point in response to the “violence” claims. I didn’t find Bolt to be any more violent than the old Wiley Coyote and Road Runner shows or the Inspector Gadget cartoons. So many of my Christian friends concern themselves with “violence,” but they let their kids watch things that are subtly contrary to the messages of the Bible and the way that God designed things to work.

My mom was a stay-at-home mom, and my dad was a high school graduate layperson. I and my siblings grew up watching The Lone Ranger, The Cisco Kid, Bugs Bunny/Roadrunner, John Wayne and all sorts of violence. I am an professional licensed in two different fields married to a medical professional, and each of my siblings are professionals as well. We aren’t violent, we have good moral principles, and we believe that every person has a duty to stand up for what is right. Bolt is a movie that promotes those same old-fashioned values, even if it does have a little violence. No brain-washing messages here.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Rebecca Solera, age 38 (USA)
Positive—My kids have all watched this (ages 2, 3½, and 5) and they all enjoy it. It’s exciting, has cute animals in it, follows a sweet storyline, and ultimately kept their attention. Yes, as others have said it is violent and full of action, but even my young ones didn’t seem to mind. Ultimately they enjoyed this film, a lot! :) Totally recommend it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Angelica, age 24 (USA)
Neutral
Neutral—I brought my 6 year old son to see “Bolt” …It was recommended for all ages. We usually watch the movies first, and I wish I would have done so this time. I found this movie very violent. To me it seemed like 50-75% of the movie was violence. As soon as the movie starts it is an action sequence of the father’s girl getting kidnapped. He calls her and tells her she can’t go home Which then she goes on a hunt to find her father while fighting the bad guys. She is chased on a highway in and out of cars by men on motorcycles with bombs and helicopter firing missiles at the dog. Then at the end of the chase when they are surrounded the dog barks and sends a wave killing an army that is sent after them. …I don’t think it is suitable for young kids or at least parents of young kids should watch it first and see if it would be to violent and scary for their child (since all families and children are different).

Other than the violence I found the movie funny and enjoyable, and in-between everything saw a message that true love never gives up.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Mother of 2, age 30
Negative
Negative—This movie is violent!! Did not expect all the guns and shooting. My kids, 4 and 6 could not understand the plot. Kids under 9 or 10 should not see this movie!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Elizabeth, age 32 (USA)
Negative—The tagline should read: Bullies always get their way. All the characters in this story—from evil guy to Bolt himself and his friends --- use violent coercion to force their victim/opponent into obedience. Hang them over a cliff or over a bridge over fast-moving traffic and threaten to drop them unless they obey. Threaten to claw them hopelessly unless they pay up. And each of these events are successful. These elements of violence, bullying, and coercion were all from the 'good guys'; then you have the bad guys doing evil too. I would never want to send this message to children or anyone else. Aside from that, there were slurs on Italians and country folk; (the stupid pigeons had Italian and country accents.) The story line was a very old one without any new additions; there was a decisive element of The Truman Show (another storyline of manipulation and deceit.) There was, as far as I could see, no intelligent thought in the film anywhere. Penny’s parents were portrayed as vapid and ineffective, unable to take care of her or themselves. Her mother was comforting, but always one step behind and unable to do anything to really help Penny. Penny’s Dad, of course, was completely helpless, and it was because of his troubles that Penny was endangered at all. As for Bolt, he had a good heart, but he was played as the complete fool in the storyline, since he was the object of total deceit by his manipulators; even his beloved Penny was in on fooling him in order to get him to perform better for the show. I couldn’t find anything worth sharing with a child or anyone else, except maybe to find a better movie. Slurs, violence, deceit, bullying as a means to an end are not consistent with the peace and love we are to teach and strive toward; not for followers of Christ, nor for any who follow most worldviews (Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, etc.). What a shame.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2
—Jen, age 60 (USA)
Comments from young people
Positive—This was an amazing movie! Probably the best Disney has ever made! Although it was a bit scary in parts, it was very clean! There were also wonderful messages throughout it! I would really recommend this to anyone!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Anna Rose, age 17
Positive—Wonderful movie! Everyone who goes would enjoy it! Even my friend who hates animals loved this movie, as did my parents. This is a great family movie!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Anna Rose, age 17 (USA)
Positive—In the words of Rhino: “This movie is so AWESOME!” It was totally kid-friendly. I know some people were offended by the violence in the beginning, but I don’t think it was any worse than say “The Incredibles,” and plus in this one it shows that the bad guys are just actors pretending to get hurt, but that they’re really okay.

The animation was great, the voices were all perfect for their parts and there was NO BATHROOM HUMOR AT ALL, which is very surprising for a kids movie these days. I’d say it was a perfect movie for the entire family.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Katie, age 16 (USA)
Positive—I watched “Bolt” in my Spanish class, so the audio was Spanish, but the movie was still enjoyable. I was kind of worried my teacher had picked out yet another frilly movie for little kids. I was pleasantly surprised.

Often times very funny, “Bolt” is family friendly (with the exception of some explosive action--which is never graphic in any way) movie that I recommend anyone to watch. It’s fun, is pretty clean and is--even I will say it--sweet and touching. The characters make good choices because it’s the right thing to do, and of course everything works out for a happy ending.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Ben Badger, age 17 (USA)
Positive—This is perhaps the best Disney Family film of the year 2008! It had its suspenseful moments, but that only led to the fun. They could have rated it G, except for maybe kids under the age of 6 years may get scared… Though like I said, that stuff only led to be fun and humerous. Overall, this movie was impressive and very clean. A must go!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Emily, age 11 (USA)