I’m not a dog-lover. In fact I am not even an animal-lover, though I could fairly tolerate a cat’s company. It’s not that I have anything against them, animals just never touched me. I’m a people-person, not an animal-person.
But what if animals were people too, just on fours and oh, with paws and fur instead of fingers and hair? Hmm. My animal-loving friends tell me that every pooch, every kitten, every bird has its own unique personality, just like human beings.
I’m convinced, now that I’ve seen Bolt. Bolt is a white dog who adores his mistress Penny, frolics and chews a carrot-shaped toy and chases his own tail. He’s a dog like any other – with one difference. He thinks he’s actually a SuperDog with special powers like an iron-bending forehead, a fire-shooting glare and a SuperBark that can blow them all away (a special genetic contribution from his ancestor, The Big Bad Wolf, one supposes).
How does a normal well-fed dog with a loving owner come to suffer such delusions? Bolt, it transpires, is the star of a television series and the entire world that he sees around him, is an elaborately constructed set with actors playing every role. All so that he genuinely believes in the character of Bolt the SuperDog and acts accordingly. Method acting at its finest.
Bolt is a 3-D movie. Yes, the kind where you get to wear multi-coloured spectacles while watching! You can imagine how much that adds to a story about a dog with great powers and even greater imagination.
John Travolta provides the heart-warming, sometimes whiny, sometimes growly voice of Bolt. Penny, Bolt’s ‘person’ is played by Miley Cyrus. If you listen carefully enough, you can discern the shift in Penny the TV star and Penny, Bolt’s doting owner. During the shooting, when Miley began laying tracks for the scenes where Penny plays with Bolt, she imagined herself playing with her own dog and spoke as she would at home, with a Southern accent. So Penny naturally speaks with a drawl. But while shooting for the TV show, Miley was asked to record without the accent, so the actress Penny delivers her instructions of ‘Bolt, zoom zoom!’ on a crisp note.
When I first saw the promos detailing this story, I thought it was a tad contrived. But the nice part of the movie is that the story actually begins after Bolt accidently gets out of his set and what happens to him in the real world.
The story had a chance to go the ‘Babe in the city’ way with a smirking look at the mistakes of the uninitiated in the big, bad world. Instead, it took a strong bouquet of characters and carried a simple plot with style.
The bad guys are just circumstances (or circumstantial as in the case of Penny’s slimy Hollywood agent, but aren’t all TV agents supposed to be that way?), the good guys leave you wondering if it would be too much of a sin to give them a good kick now and then. Just like human people. We meet Mittens, the smirking New York alley cat, extortionist bully of the neighborhood bird community and expert in the matters of men and dogs. There is Rhino, an exuberant Bolt-groupie hamster energetically running around inside a plastic ball who alternately provides comic relief and the Yoda for Mittens’ hard-bitten cynicism.
And then there are the pigeons! Ever wonder what pigeons keep going on about while they goobgoob at each other from telephone wires and window parapets? Here’s what – they complain about bullies, they play tricks on people, they gossip about people (and dogs) walking about and in Hollywood, they even pitch movie ideas to any stars that they inadvertently bump into!
In all fairness, Bolt is exactly the way I see most dogs. Sweet, sometimes irritating in his antics, pretty lovable but nothing remarkable in himself. The other characters of this story are what make it really special and worth every minute of it.
*Bolt will premier at the multiplexes tomorrow, finally a good movie after the long wait! This movie was brought to me by The Social Media Catalyst.