| November 27, 2008

It’s interesting that movies and TV shows are starting to go within themselves. More and more often movies and TV shows are starting to be about movies and TV shows. The latest offering is the animated Bolt, showing us what it’s like behind the scenes of a family style action show. The executives walk around talking about ratings and demographics, but if they only listened to themselves, they’d see they hold the answer to the problem.
Penny (voiced by Miley Cyrus) and her dog, Bolt (voiced by John Travolta), star in the action series, and the executives insist that the dog not realize it’s a TV show. They want him to think he really does have super powers and that he really is saving the day. It’s their belief that if the dog stops believing, the audience will stop believing. However, this causes Bolt to lead a very lonely life away from the camera. When Penny goes home for the night, he’s simply locked up in his trailer and forgotten about.
The ratings for Bolt are starting to go downhill, and everyone is scrambling about trying to find the answer as the director is still insisting that they have to keep Bolt innocent as far as the real world. The network representative gets upset with him, telling him he needs to “stop worrying abou the dog’s method acting and start worrying how to stop 20-year-olds in Topeka from changing the channel.”
Tricked by an evil cat, a costar, Bolt makes an escape from the studio, as he thinks Penny is in danger, having been kidnapped by the Green-Eyed Man, the villain on the show. He accidentally lands in a box and gets sent to New York. Here he meets up with a cat who he initially confuses for his constar. Instead, this is Mittens (voiced by Susie Essman) who operates a food extortion business with the pigeons. She’s forced by Bolt into helping find Penny, and along their travels they also pick up Rhino (voiced by Mark Walton), a hamster in a ball who happens to be an obsessed fan of Bolt’s, just shy of a Kathy Bates.
What becomes more and more clear as the movie progresses is that the network executive and the director of Bolt were both on the rigth track to fixing the problems with the show, but the truth was staring them right in the face while they continued talked around and looked over it. While it’s true that if Bolt believes he’s saving the world the audience will too, it’s also true that if Bolt isn’t happy with his life, the audience will become unhappy with him as well.
I’m not sure if that was an intentional theme of Bolt or not, but I did read that the original writer and director was fired when Pixar and Disney became unhappy with the direction of the film. They switched it up, bringing in a new writing and directing team, then rushed through the production. Luckily, it seems to have worked out okay in the end, but it just seems to be an interesting life imitating art type of thing.

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