Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Elusive Bolt and Mittens

We recently disembarked from our 65th Disney cruise, and one of the onboard events was Bolt in 3-D. For those who aren't aware (and given the box office returns, that's a lot of people), Bolt is Disney's latest CGI cartoon. Given their last two offerings (Chicken Little and Meet The Robinsons), I wasn't expecting much and I don't think many other movie goers were either. Almost everyone I know who has seen Bolt has said, "Wow! It was much better than I thought it would be."

I probably would have waited until it came on cable if I didn't see it on the ship. But they had several 3-D showings, and it's included in the cruise cost, so I figured what the heck. My husband saw it the day before I did, but the showing was late and I needed to work so I decided to wait till the next afternoon. When he returned to our stateroom, he said he liked it but didn't think I would. Still, I went through with my plans to see it. The theater was only moderately crowded since everyone had seen it the night before, so I found a good spot off to the side without anyone else around me. I donned the 3-D glasses and settled in.

I already knew the whole story, having seen it online. I'm one of those people who can read the last page of a book with a surprise ending or hear a movie spoiler and not have it impede my enjoyment one bit. Bolt is actually a pretty simple flick anyway, with no stunning plot twists, or at least none that aren't fairly predictable. Bolt is a TV star, although he doesn't know it (shades of the Truman Show). He believes he has super powers like heat vision and a destructive super bark, and the director takes great pains to nurture that belief because he is a believe in method acting. Penny, Bolt's owner, wants to take him home and give him a taste of really doggy life, but her smarmy gent thwarts her.

The show always centers around Bolt saving Penny from the evil Dr. Calico and his feline minions through the use of his super powers. To boost ratings, one day it ends in a cliffhanger, with Bolt returned to his trailer believing she is in mortal danger. He breaks out and accidentally gets sealed in a box and shipped to New York. Once there, he searches for a cat since in his mind all cats are in league with Dr. Calico and therefore would know where Penny is.

Soon Bolt links up with Mittens, a cynical feline who thinks he is crazy but who gets forced into helping him. She sees "Hollywood" on his tag, so with the help of a waffle house placemat, which she convinces him is a "secret map of the world," she shows him where he must go. He drags her along, and on the way they also link up with Rhino the fanboy hamster, as they continue with their westward quest.

I won't say any more so I don't spoil it for those who haven't seen it, but it's really a sweet, touching store with more character depth than I expected. Mittens and the other cats have all the best lines. One of the funniest sequences happens when Bolt's feline co-stars torment him in his trailer, playing on the fact that he thinks the show is real.

We got a stuffed Bolt on the ship, but they didn't have Mittens (I didn't want Rhino; he was funny, but only for about five minutes). I figured I'd find her at Disney problem, right? Wrong! Bolt toys are totally absent from the parks, or at least the Magic Kingdom, Disney Hollywood Studio, and the toy store in Downtown Disney. The scariest part was that literally two Cast Members at MK had no idea what Bolt even was! It's Disney's latest movie, but you would have thought I was speaking a foreign language.

We figured there had to be some merchandise at the Studio because the Bolt characters are there for photos, but I think they had stuff from every movie but Bolt. No Mittens for me! I brought my plush Bolt with me because I also wanted to get photos with Bolt, Mittens and Rhino while we were there. The line was hellaciously long, but I bit the bullet because I figured if there were no toys, they might get rid of the live characters next. It moved very slowly, particularly since they spend quite a bit of time with each group. Tedious while you are waiting, but fun when you finally get to meet them.

When it was my turn, the trio went wild over my little Bolt doggy. Lord knows they had probably never seen one, judging by the conspicuous absence of Bolt merchandise at the World. Bolt and Rhino started tussling over him, and Mittens finally had to step in and restore order. We got some great pictures, and I plan to return when I finally get my Mittens doll (I gave up the search last night and just ordered her online).

We also saw Frozone and the Incredibles, and Mrs. Incredible just loved the Bolt doll. Through hand gestures, she told Mr. Incredible in no uncertain terms that she wants a puppy for Christmas. We got some good shows with them, then headed out to see the Osborne dancing lights. The first song for the "dancing" was Streisand's tedious version of "Jingle Bells," but we stuck around and thankfully the next one was Trans-Siberian Orchestra's "Carol of the Bells." So much better! We also rode Star Tours and the Tower of Terror before heading home.

Disney really missed the boat with their Bolt marketing. I lost count of all the people I passed who commented that they'd love to find a Bolt doll to buy. It also makes me sad that so many people have skipped the movie completely based on the last two abysmal non-Pixar CGI offerings. Disney fans will love it; it's truly of the quality of the older movies that had heart instead of being an ADHD explosion of pointless music and color like Madagascar 2. It also has a good underlying message about shelter pets and responsible pet ownership, which is a welcome change from the purebred promoting flicks like 101 Dalmations and Beverly Hills Chihuahua.

Oh well, maybe Bolt will have "legs" to carry it through respectable earnings through the holiday season. If not, it's a real shame because even though it's no Lilo and Stitch or The Incredibles, it's the best Disney movie to come around in quite a while.

Here are some pics. of my plush Bolt and his Disney buddies:

Bolt shares a tender moment with his Mini-Me.

Rhino gets his paws on the Bolt plush.

Mittens breaks up the tussle.

Us with the whole gang.

You can see how much Mrs. Incredible likes little Bolt!


Shephard said...

We lived in Celebration for 6 years. :) Visited there this last week to see the changes, and ate at our favorite, Columbia (how we miss that restaurant!).

The BOLT merchandise sold out quickly at the parks, but The Disney Store has some of the cutest plushes you'll see. Including an articulated Mittens.

~S :)

Robin Friedman's JerseyFresh Tude said...


I've been enjoying your blog for a long time, but had to come out to say I think we were on the same cruise aboard the DISNEY MAGIC! Plus, we're fellow-authors.


Anonymous said...

Bolt is such a wonderful move. By far the best animated movie of the year, though grossly underrated it still managed to reach a 90 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

I'm confused to read that it was hard to find Bolt merchandise. There's plenty! But a lot of stuff are really exclusive, like the Bolt maquette.

Anonymous said...

Bolt is such a wonderful move. By far the best animated movie of the year, though grossly underrated it still managed to reach a 90 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

I'm confused to read that it was hard to find Bolt merchandise. There's plenty! But a lot of stuff are really exclusive, like the Bolt maquette.