Disney's Bolt represents a brazen act of self-cannibalism, Disney regurgitating the plots of two of their own early-mid 90s classics, Toy Story and Homeward Bound, and stitching them together into a Frankenstein beast of a film. The facts of the case:
Toy Story is about a toy, Buzz Lightyear, who has been led to believe with all his being that he is an astronaut. He is forced on a journey during which he realizes he is not an astronaut and comes to terms with being a toy. Homeward Bound is about a dog, Chance, who winds up separated across the country from his owner. With his two animal companions, including a sassy, sarcastic cat, he goes on an epic adventure, makes it home, and has a joyous reunion with his family.
Bolt is about a dog, Bolt, who has been led to believe with all his being that he is a superhero, and who winds up separated across the country from his owner. With his two animal companions, including a sassy, sarcastic cat, he goes on an epic adventure during which he realizes he is not a superhero and comes to terms with being a dog. He makes it home and has a joyous reunion with his family.
If the character and journey arcs of Buzz Lightyear and Chance got one another pregnant, their spawn would be Bolt. I realize that kids these days haven't even seen fucking Homeward Bound so they won't notice (and in a related note that I'm getting older by the minute), but come on now, Disney.
Outside of that, the movie's not bad. Not great, either, as the action scenes feel shoehorned in, it's predictable, there's no real conflict, and it just flat-out lacks the vibrant originality of Pixar's recent all-time classics like Ratatouille, WALL·E, and The Incredibles. But the animation is nice, the characters are fairly likable, and there's several funny moments interspersed throughout.
Make no mistake though, this is a kids movie, not a family movie. Children around five and six will enjoy it the most, laugh the most, and notice the flaws the least. I have no idea what the people on message boards I frequent ejaculating about Bolt being Pixar-quality were talking about, because it's not, but hey, I'm shocked to see Disney Animation Studios display signs of competence and something resembling a beating pulse these days too.
2 Stars out of 5