Bolt (film)

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This article is about the movie. For the character, see Bolt (character) .
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Bolt is a 2008 computer-animated film produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios and directed by Byron Howard and Chris Williams. It was released in November 2008 as Disney's forty-eighth animated feature, starring the voices of a number of celebrities, most notably John Travolta, Miley Cyrus and Susie Essman.

The plot centers on an anthropomorphic, nonmorphic White German Shepherd named Bolt who, having spent his entire life unknowingly isolated in a TV studio, believes that the fictional world of the TV series, in which he plays the lead role, is real. In the TV show, Bolt must use his superpowers to constantly save his owner Penny, whom he loves dearly, from the evil plans of the malevolent villain “Doctor Calico”. Having had no contact with the outside world, Bolt believes that he actually has the superpowers possessed by his TV figure. This is a delusion the directors efforts to preserve by the use of live effects and stunts, tricking him, week after week, into thinking his adventures are real in order to make his performance more authentic. To boost ratings, one day it ends in a cliffhanger, with Bolt returned to his trailer believing that Penny, his owner and co-star from the TV series, is in mortal danger. He breaks out and accidentally gets sealed in a box and shipped to New York.

Bolt was produced by Pixar chief creative officer and director, John Lassetter, and was the first movie to be distributed in Digital 3-D. The movie received very positive reviews from critics, and became the beginning of an era for the studio that would later become known as the "Disney Revival". The movie received a number of awards, such as the Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Feature, a title that was eventually lost to WALL-E.


The film starts in an unknown animal rescue center where the young girl Penny adopts a white German Shepherd Puppy she later names Bolt, giving him his iconic dog tag with the name written on it. The film then cuts five years into the future. Bolt is now the main character in a hit TV show in which he plays a “superdog-hero” with superpowers who has to constantly save his owner, Penny, from the evil plans of the nefarious Doctor Calico and his black pet cats. Presumably having spent his entire life (from early puppyhood) on the stage, Bolt actually believes that the fictional world of the TV-series is real and that his beloved Penny is in real danger. In order to achieve a more realistic, authentic performance from Bolt, the TV-shows unscrupulous producers has been working to preserve Bolts erroneous understanding of the world, purposely tricking Bolt into thinking the TV-series plot is real and that he actually has superpowers through the use of live-effects and scenery.

In each episode, Bolt succeeds in his mission to save Penny from the evil Doctor Calico, and when the cameras stop rolling, Bolt is being locked into a trailer where he can spend the reminder of the day with Penny. However, when the studio producers decides to make a cliffhanger episode in an attempt to boost viewer ratings, Bolt becomes confused thinking that Penny is still in danger and has to be saved. He breaks out of his trailer and escapes from the studio, which is located in Hollywood. Upon trying to break through a window, Bolt loses consciousness and falls into a box of Styrofoam, and while in the box, being shipped to New York.

Well in New York, Bolt finds a black, female cat named Mittens and captures her (an assumption he founded on his hated of the feline race and experiences from the TV-show) after three pigeons lied to him into accusing her of knowing the secret hid-out of "The Green-Eyed Man", just so that the pigeons can get rid of her for bullying them. At first, Mitten’s have no idea what Bolt is talking about, but when he bites her color, hanging her from a bridge, dangling her over a busy highway, she decides to play a long in order to save her own life. The two sets off on a journey back to Las Vegas Mittens serving as Bolts navigator.

Upon arriving at an RV park Bolt and Mittens meet Rhino, an eccentric and overenthusiastic hamster who quickly befriends Bolt after recognizing him from the TV-series he is a big fan of. He decides to follow Mittens and Bolt to Hollywood.

Had enough with Bolts behavior, Mittens eventually gives up the role-playing and resorts into trying to convince Bolt that he does not have any superpowers. Bolt ignores her, believing that his sudden lack of powers is the result of Styrofoam, which he was exposed to when shipped to New York. During their trip through America, Bolt ambitiously ignores or rationalizes away any signs that conflicts with his delusional interpretation of the world and himself, this leading him into a stage of self-denial. He ignores Mittens and her logics, even goes as far as to treating her unkindly as a result of his self-deception. When Mittens ties herself to a tree and tries to talk sense to Bolt, he responds by simply barking repeatedly in a last attempt to silence both her and the unwelcomed insecurity building up in his subconscious.

Later, when Bolt and Mittens got captured by Animal Control, Rhino figures out a way to open the cage setting Bolt free. However, when Bolt discovers that he needed Rhinos help to open the cage, the dog finally gives up, realizing that he is simply a normal dog. However, he still manages to save Mittens from the Animal Rescue Center so that they can continue their journey.

Mittens takes Bolt under her wings showing him what it is like to be a normal dog. Along the way, Bolt learns to enjoy typical dog activities (such as hanging his head out the window, playing with other dogs and learn how to fetch), the activities serving to further the bonding between the two characters. However, when reaching Las Vegas, Mittens suggest that the group should settle down and live together in the nearby neighborhoods. Bolt refuses saying that he still intends to find Penny. In surprise and anger, Mittens tells Bolt that Penny is just as “fake” as his Hollywood life, and there is no real love for him there. Bolt, though distressed by her words, decides to go on alone leaving both her and Rhino behind.

Bolt reaches the studio alone, finding Penny embracing a lookalike-dog. Unaware that Penny still misses him and that her affection for the lookalike was only a part of a rehearsal for the show, he leaves, heartbroken. Meanwhile, Mittens was hiding on a gantry in the studio, seeing what Bolt didn’t -Penny telling her mother how much she misses Bolt.

Realizing that Penny truly does love Bolt, Mittens tries to explain the truth for Bolt upon spotting him, aimlessly walking around outside the studio. Their conversation is cut-short when Bolt hears some shouting in fear, who is trapped inside a burning studio house. He breaks into the burning studio, finding Penny and saving her from the flames. However the two characters quickly becomes trapped in the house. Bolt finds a vent but decides not to escape unwilling to abandon Penny, With his last powers Bolt tries using his super bark before fainting as a result of smoke inhalation and exhaustion. The firefighters hear Bolt's barking through the building's vents and manage to pinpoint his location, rescuing him and Penny. The movie does not reveal whether Bolt’s decision to bark was the result of confusion and fear or if he actually planned to alert the people outside the house, intentionally using the ventilation system to do so.

After the incident, Penny's mother decides to quit the show and after Penny's recovery, they adopt Mittens and Rhino, and moves to a house on the countryside where Bolt can enjoy a simpler, happier lifestyle. The epilogue scenes during the credits show Bolt, Penny, her mother, Mittens, and Rhino enjoying their new life together with Bolt finally being able to live his life as a dog.



Producing the film proved to be a troublesome affair. At first, the film was going to be called American Dog and tell the story of Hendry, a famous television star who one day finds himself abandoned in the Nevada desert where he meets a one-eyed cat and an oversized, radioactive rabbit. Ultimately, the story of Hendry was very different from what would later become Bolt. The idea came from Chris Sanders, best known for co-writing the Disney animated feature Lilo & Stitch. However, when Lasseter took over management for the studio, he dismissed Sanders's idea, calling it "too quirky". After the departure of Sanders from Disney, directing duties were handed to Chris Williams, a Disney writer, and the film was retitled Bolt. A new main character was animated, a white dog with a more illustrious appearance and anthropomorphic qualities. Chris Williams and Byron Howard worked to improve the story and Lasseter became the new producer.

During the remaining time of production, the team worked under a constant time pressure, having to finish the movie in just 18 months rather than the normal period of four years. However, on June 8, 2007, Disney announced that the film, now under its current name, would be released on November 21, 2008 in Disney Digital 3-D. The movie is also the first animated feature to be produced with non-photorealistic rendering to give the movie a special visual appearance. In Bolt, the backgrounds and scenery is a mix between 3D animation and hand painted visuals.


The soundtrack for the movie was produced by John Powell and performed by the Hollywood Studio Orchestra. The soundtrack offers a mix between loud, fast-paced tracks with lots of percussion and violins together with some more sensitive pieces with piano and flute melodies. Powell created a special musical theme for Bolt, which runs through the score. It begins with "Meet Bolt” – a piano melody playing in the background during the movies early puppy scenes. It ends up in various takes on the melody in the five-track arc through the rest of the movie, depending on which mood Bolt is in.

1. "I Thought I Lost You" by Miley Cyrus, John Travolta — 3:36

2. "Barking at the Moon" by Jenny Lewis — 3:17

3. "Meet Bolt" — 1:49

4. "Bolt Transforms" — 1:00

5. "Scooter Chase" — 2:29

6. "New York" — 1:44

7. "Meet Mittens" — 1:25

8. "The RV Park" — 2:14

9. "A Fast Train" — 2:38

10. "Where Were You on St. Rhino's Day?" — 1:58

11. "Sing-Along Rhino" — 0:42

12. "Saving Mittens" — 1:02

13. "House on Wheels" — 3:07

14. "Las Vegas" — 2:01

15. "A Friend in Need" — 1:13

16. "Rescuing Penny" — 3:09

17. "A Real Life Superbark" — 0:46

18. "Unbelievable TV" — 1:20

19. "Home at Last/Barking at the Moon (Reprise)" — 1:29


Critical Reaction[edit]

The movie was met with overall very positive reviews. Rotten Tomatoes reported that 89% of critics gave the movie good reviews, based on 175 reviews. New York Times praised the movie, writing that "Bolt is a cute enough little fellow with a winning personality and a nice voice, but his physical gestures and facial expressions turn him into a memorable, irresistible character."

Perry Seibert of TV Guide gave the film 3 stars out of 4 and wrote the film "amuses both those who make up the film's target audience and the parents along for the ride. This winning mix of exciting action, heart-tugging sentiment, and gentle character comedy makes Bolt yet another solid addition to Disney's history of family-friendly fare."

Allan Hunter of Daily Express UK wrote that "The wonderfully expressive features on Bolt make him feel almost real" further stating that “the movie has enough charm and humour to please both adults and children.” Tasha Robinson of the A.V. Club gave the film a B+ stating that "Bolt is the studio's first film since Lilo & Stitch that feels like it's trying to recapture the old Disney instead of aggressively shedding it in favor of something slick and new. And yet it comes with a healthy cutting-edge Pixar flavor as well."

Box Office[edit]

On its opening weekend, the film opened number 3 with $26,223,128 having to compete with both Twilight and Quantum of Solace. Still, on its second weekend, it rose to #2 behind Four Christmases with a 1.4% increase.[26] As of November 1, 2009 the film has grossed more than $ $309,979,654, Making the movie an overall success both in the eyes of the critics and in terms of box office grossing.


  • John Travolta as Bolt, the main protagonist.
  • Miley Cyrus as Penny, the deuteragonist.
  • Susie Essman as Mittens, the tritagonist.
  • Mark Walton as Rhino, the secondary tritagonist.
  • Malcolm McDowell as Dr. Calico, the main antagonist.
  • Nick Swardson as Blake
  • Diedrich Bader as Veteran Cat
  • Daran Norris as Louie
  • Chloë Moretz as Young Penny
  • Greg Germann as the Agent, the secondary antagonist.
  • James Lipton as the Director, the tertiary antagonist.
  • Randy Savage as Thug
  • Kari Wahlgren as Mindy Parker
  • Grey DeLisle as Penny's Mother



Bolt is a white German Shepherd of about 6 years of age. He is voiced by John Travolta in the english version of the movie and by Claude Legault in the French Canadian version (titled Volt).

Bolt is an unknowingly canine actor for a television series of the same name who believes that has superpowers, including laser eyes, superbark, superspeed, superstrenght, near-invulnerability and a killer ground-pound attack (from the videogame). He is extremely loyal to his person, Penny.

Bolt is a gullible, loyal, protective dog who has no clue that he doesn't have superpowers until halfway into the story.

Due to his canine nature, Bolt has a strong distaste for the feline family, although he eventually becomes close friend with Mittens.

During the course of the movie, Bolt becomes aware of his lack of superpowers and learns that he can be a hero despite being a "normal" dog.


Mittens, a black cat with white paws and muzzle. Voiced by Susie Essman and by Frédérique Dufort in the french canadian version.

She ran a pidgeon mafia until Bolt came in the picture. She originally distrust her canine companion, but eventually grows fond of him and become close friends. She teaches the dog a lot about life outside a TV studio and what the "real world" is like. Many fans believe she fell in love with Bolt sometime during the journey.

She is a somewhat bitter and sarcastic character, having been left behind by her previous owners, but with a heart of gold. She is also declawed.


Rhino is a brown hamster who spends most of his time in his clear plastic ball. Voiced by Mark Walton and by Guy Jodoin in the french canadian dub.

This character is the prototypical "fanboy"; he knows everything about his TV show, is overly enthusiastic to the point or being delusional about the reality of the stories he watches on TV. He has a strong desire to do Bolt's job, as seen in the short movie "Rhino Saves the Day" on the Bolt Bluray disc.


Penny is Bolt's person (owner), voiced by Miley Cyrus, as well as an actor in the fictional TV show Bolt. Her character gets captured by the evil Doctor Calico, her arch-nemesis, as a ploy to attract ratings with a cliffhanger. She is trying to save her father, who has been capture by the main villain.

Despite her being an actor, she truly cares for Bolt as her own dog and not just as an actor. This relationship is what a lot of the movie hinges on.

Penny is shown to be ressourceful, inquisitive, intelligent but somehow weak in the fact that she always needs Bolt to get her out of trouble.

Doctor Calico[edit]

Also known as The Green-Eyed Man due to having one protruding cat-like green eye. He is voiced by Malcom McDowell.

Doctor Calico is a super-villain in the fictitious TV series Bolt who's bent on world conquest. He seems to have vast ressources at his disposal, though he strongly believes that the key to world domination lies within Penny's father. Dr. calico serves as the secondary antagonist.

The Agent[edit]

The Agent is Penny's agent. His job was to lure Penny away so she could forget about Bolt and be in his show. At the end the Agent got kicked out by Penny's mother. He is voiced by Greg Germann.

External links[edit]