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Massawyrm says run, don't walk to BOLT!!!

Hola all. Massawyrm here. Man, for the most part this has been an incredibly great week for me film-wise. Frost/Nixon, a pair of films that I’m still under embargo for and now this, Bolt. What is most certainly a return to form for the Disney, their animation department has not only caught up to Pixar but with their own past of telling classic tales. Bolt is easily the best film Disney has made since their silver age resurgence in the late 80’s and early 90’s. It is a hilarious, adorably sweet film that will please the whole family, and I absolutely loved almost every last moment of it. I’ve already gone over my initial response to the material here after seeing two different presentations of it, so I’ll try not to repeat myself. The long and the short of it is that John Lassiter is working miracles at the Mouse house. Unlike anything else Disney has done on their own since abolishing bigscreen 2D animation for the foreseeable future, this really resonates on a whole different level. Lately, the best Disney animation could muster from parents was a “well that was cute,” and made films that at best could be tolerated in the background while their kid played the thing over and over again in the DVD player. Bolt, on the other hand, is one of those films that parents are likely to stop what they’re doing, sit down on the couch and say “Oh, I’m just gonna stay for this part - it’s my favorite,” before dropping what they’re doing to watch it again cuddled with their kids. It’s not just Pixar level – it is playing at the BEST OF PIXAR level. While I’m not going to say it is as much of an achievement as Wall-E, I will say it is throwing the ball around in the Incredibles/Ratatouille ballpark. What works best here is that the film strives more for timelessness than it does filling the movie with silly pop culture references. We’ve finally gotten past that. Instead, they pull in parents with a visual language that borrows from action films and comic books and yet draws its power from the undeniable attraction of “a boy and his dog” story. Almost literally. Effectively this is The Truman Show if Truman were convinced that he had super powers and then was accidently turned loose in the world. It’s a fairly classic story, a fish out of water/Homeward Bound tale with some slight hints of the Animaniacs thrown in. But despite the fact that you almost know the story by heart even before you see it, it keeps you off balance with its wickedly sharp sense of humor. This movie is hilarious, with an almost constant joke a minute pace that never gets dull and never over uses a single gag. If the film has one flaw, it is that towards the end of the film there is a montage with a sappy country song that goes on a bit too long. It’s one of those moments in which it seems someone behind the scenes felt there needed to be at least one complete song and the animators had to find gags to fill a whole songs worth of time. And it’s not a particularly great song to begin with. But fortunately once the song ends, the movie resumes with all the power it had before the montage began and you can resume laughing and enjoying it same as if nothing untoward had occurred. What struck me most about seeing the final film is that each and every scene I had seen already was actually BETTER in context. Not only did the jokes still work, they worked better when there was more to it. The film has an incredible amount of heart that it earns right from the get go and never lets up on. A very sweet, endearing film, Bolt marks a wonderful change in Disney animation, signaling a bright future when we can look eagerly forward to new animated films rather than pining for the old days when they used to get them right. They’re getting them right again. This one comes Highly Recommended - kids or no kids. Until next time friends, smoke ‘em if ya got ‘em. Massawyrm
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Readers Talkback
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  • Nov. 21, 2008, 8:59 a.m. CST

    Dunno about this one..

    by Big_Daddy_Nero

    The previews don't give me a good feeling... but the kids may like it..

  • Nov. 21, 2008, 9:01 a.m. CST

    Seeing this in 3D today

    by Nasty In The Pasty

    Looking forward to it. We haven't had a really good non-Pixar Disney film since Lilo & Stitch.

  • Nov. 21, 2008, 9:03 a.m. CST

    Buzz Lightyear

    by Papa Lazaru

    Seems like they took the idea of Buzz ( thinking he was something he wasnt) and fleshed it out. Could be good though.

  • Nov. 21, 2008, 9:05 a.m. CST


    by erockwilly

    i'm really surprised to see a good review of this. i'm thinking of giving it a shot now

  • Nov. 21, 2008, 9:07 a.m. CST

    86% at Rotten Tomatoes

    by Nasty In The Pasty

    Not bad.

  • Nov. 21, 2008, 9:24 a.m. CST

    I had written this off

    by filmcoyote

    now rethinking, could it be possible?

  • Nov. 21, 2008, 9:54 a.m. CST

    Incredibles / Ratatouille Ballpark? Don't blaspheme!

    by Rufus

  • Nov. 21, 2008, 10:04 a.m. CST


    by Frankenbastard

    I’m pretty sure and I say this quasi facetiously but Pixar IS their animation department?

  • Nov. 21, 2008, 10:09 a.m. CST

    I'm there...with the tykes taking the lead no less

    by Shub-Wankalot

    That is all.

  • Nov. 21, 2008, 10:17 a.m. CST

    "in the Incredibles/Ratatouille ballpark"

    by ballyhoo

    Wow. And since you were spot on about Happy Feet, I'm inclined to trust this.

  • Nov. 21, 2008, 10:28 a.m. CST

    "...with some slight hints of the Animaniacs thrown in."

    by ScotFree

    You sold me with that line. I have much MUCH love for the Warners 3 and their friends.

  • Nov. 21, 2008, 10:33 a.m. CST

    As good as the Incredibles...Wall-E?

    by ninpobugei

    Well, I can't say if this review is good or bad. I thought THE INCREDIBLES was terrific, but I thought WALL-E was overhyped and boring in the extreme. Also, my wife and I walked out of RATATOUILLE (again, great visuals but just a really boring story). My initial thought from the trailer is that BOLT is just another kiddie INCREDIBLES or LION KING competitor. Here's hoping I'm wrong!

  • Nov. 21, 2008, 10:53 a.m. CST

    love ur avatar! best one so far

    by T 1000 xp professional

    oh yeah realllyy excited about this movie! I'm not enraged 'bout the comparison to Pixar, 'cause I much rather embrace it.

  • Nov. 21, 2008, 10:57 a.m. CST

    Massa - Before you Compare it LIKE EVERYONE ELSE...

    by AdrianVeidt

    ...think about the old movies. Everyone is comparing, but where is the music? Pixar killed the animated musical... what is everyone's opinion? A good thing or a bad thing to lose it?

  • Nov. 21, 2008, 10:59 a.m. CST

    Does Miley Cyrus take off her clothes in this one?

    by Alex Mack

    Damn, that girl can't seem to keep her clothes on anymore. *coff whore coff* She does have a nice butt though.

  • Nov. 21, 2008, 11:35 a.m. CST

    Masa & "parents

    by Jaws Wayne

    Man, this could very well be a fun movie but your comments and opinions on Disney's animated films (AND NOW ALSO ALL PARENTS !!!) make me want to punch you really hard. What the fuck do you know about parents opinions on Disney's animated films from the last 20 Years ??? Hunchback, Tarzan, Treasure Planet, Mulan, Fantasia 2000 and Hercules are just "cute" at best but actually very boring to all parents in the world ? And you think none of these films are up to the standards from films like Alladin, Beauty and the Beast, Lion King and Mermaid ??? Man, can you please stop reviewing animated films in general because it's absolutely clear you don't have an idea what makes them loved by fans of all ages. Enough. I seriously don't have a single fuckin clue why Harry let's you eat up so much space on this site, your opinions on films (and now also parents) and what makes them good or bad are just way too silly and annoying. Jezus H.

  • Nov. 21, 2008, 11:49 a.m. CST

    Jaws Wayne

    by Monkey Butler

    Hunchback, Tarzan etc. ARE cute at best. And to bring up Fantasia 2000 proves the point - really doesn't have the soul of the original. Fast-talking gimmick characters killed Disney animation from Timon and Pumbaa on.

  • Nov. 21, 2008, 12:11 p.m. CST

    Monkey Butler

    by Massawyrm 1

    Jaws Wayne is doing a nice job talking about 10 year old movies - while neglecting the films I'm actually talking about - like MEET THE ROBINSONS & CHICKEN LITTLE, not to mention the death of Disney 2D animation projects like Brother Bear and the nigh ceaseless series of Disney classic "sequels" that streamed out like a diuretic spray for a while there. He's just looking for something to bitch about without actually having anything to back his shit up.

  • Nov. 21, 2008, 12:28 p.m. CST

    but princes and the frog!!


    the concept art and characters, let's not forget the team that's heading it, thank god for 2d, it's the reason i have a college degree! haha. but in all seriousness. i've always found traditional animation more spectacular to watch, it's some talented shit. B.T.W. CORALINE LOOKS FUCKING TITS!!!

  • Nov. 21, 2008, 12:41 p.m. CST


    by PirateEmery

    Why must such a cinema mecca such as Santa Barbara be completely devoid of everything Bolt? There is nowhere playing Bolt within a 25 mile radius, something strange for a Southern California city with six or so different movie theaters.

  • Nov. 21, 2008, 1:45 p.m. CST

    Well being a parent...

    by Frankenbastard

    I’m a parent of a 6 and 2 and a half year old so I’ve had play catch up on a lot of Disney toons and I have to say in my opinion it’s all the greedy straight to DVD princess crap that hung their animation department. That and a lack of forward thinking. I mean just the concept “hey lets kill what created this whole empire in the first place. You know, the thing that keeps us in big houses, nice cars, and blow.” A sure sign of new management that doesn’t even watch Disney “product” or know it’s history for that matter. I’m so glad my daughter doesn’t buy into all that princess crap. Even as a child I hated the stuff from the 60’s (the era I was born in) the art direction was just sloppy and trendy. Meet The Robinsons is actually really good, especially since it was based on a book with a few more pages than a Bazooka Joe comic. Hercules is another one that is overlooked and really well done, it’s not classic Disney but this isn’t a classic world anymore. I pray that Pixar gets to dip their hands into every single animated piece of work that gets cranked out of the Disney studios now because you know what, at least John Lasseter loves Disney animation which is a lot more than I can say for the powers that be. This is random but I love how years ago Disney almost buried Nightmare Before Christmas after it’s release. Some fucking suit ordered all the sets and props to be destroyed and thrown in the trash, yea great way to embrace new creativity. It was almost like their bastard child…till years later they found out some subculture would pay money for any and all merchandise. Now it’s like the kid that shows up at home one day after being stuck on the back of a milk carton for years. When I saw the first previews for Bolt it really didn’t do much for me but it’s not about me it’s about what my kids like and now after watching the recent trailers in the theater it really looks good. I just wish that Disney wouldn’t go the Dreamworks route and hire voice actors based on current popularity and do what Pixar does and fit the voice to the character. Most of Dreamworks animation films are dated the second they come out because of shoddy story telling, of the moment voice actors, and what’s current soundtracks. I’ve always trusted Massawyrms opinion so this is good news to me as I step of my xyz soapbox.

  • Nov. 21, 2008, 2:33 p.m. CST

    Jaws Wayne

    by frozen01

    Massawyrm is right... and suddenly, I feel very old.

  • Nov. 21, 2008, 2:36 p.m. CST

    With daughter in tow, I have seen Chicken Little

    by skimn

    and Meet The Robinson's, and have been impressed by the use of Disney 3D. Sooooo, it looks like we'll be putting on the specs and watching this, this weekend.<p>Thank God she's not a Twilight fan.<p>In the animation sweepstakes, I just caught Kung Fu Panda and WallE within a week of another. And I have to admit, I found Panda to be more enjoyable. WallE was lovely and sweet, I just preferred the Panda.

  • Nov. 21, 2008, 2:48 p.m. CST

    Wow Pirate Emery

    by Mel Gibsteinberg

    I grew up in SB, live down in Camarillo now, are you sure that even the Costco theaters out there, what are they called Camino Real, don't have Bolt? That seems crazy!

  • Nov. 21, 2008, 2:49 p.m. CST


    by Mel Gibsteinberg

    If you are basing your search on the SB News Subpressed, I'd be careful, they have screwed things up in the past.

  • Nov. 21, 2008, 2:54 p.m. CST

    Pirate Emery

    by Mel Gibsteinberg

    Bolt is playing in Digital 3D at the Arlington, at least according to Yahoo. Jeez, that's pretty cool that they have upgraded the Arlington for Digital projection. I remember loving that old theater, even though they had so much trouble keeping up with their sound system. <P>Plus they had this chunky blond woman who seemed to just hate life and yell at everyone who came in through the door, especially when they were pushing their way for a midnight showing of Star Wars, wow those were good times man, good times.

  • Nov. 21, 2008, 2:59 p.m. CST

    No back up for the sequels

    by Jaws Wayne

    Not backing up the princess stuff and sequels at all, I'm just getting really tired of reading that Disney's animated films became bad and formualic after The Lion King. They actually became more adventurous than ever, and although there were some turkeys (just like in the old days) they made some damn good 2D animated films after the Lion King. The fact that the back-to-back musicals did best at the box-office doesn't mean these were Disney's best artistic moments. Also, no Fantasia 2000 can't be compared to the original, but it wasn't bullshit either was it ? Hardly a bad segment in that, and as for Meet The Robinsons, although that gets a little hectic I actually think that film had a lot of heart, a great story and was really nice to look at, to compare that with Chicken Little is like comparing Lethal Weapon to Batman Forever.

  • Nov. 21, 2008, 3:02 p.m. CST

    I Just Can't Believe This is Good

    by Mr. Winston

    Critics are really digging it, so there must be something I'm missing, but the trailers made this look DOOGAL-level awful. I love the idea for the story, but the teaser didn't make me laugh once and I had this feeling that the hamster character was entirely derivative. <br> <br> I guess I have to see this now to find out. Damn all of you recommending it.

  • Nov. 21, 2008, 3:24 p.m. CST

    I will say that...

    by The Eskimo

    ...after everything I saw and hear about this film, I chose it as my "skip it pick" for this weekend over on our website (which I will NOT shamelessly plug here thank you very much!) Now I am having second thoughts. Maybe Disney's problem is more marketing than content...thoughts?

  • Nov. 21, 2008, 3:25 p.m. CST


    by skimn

    Is that the one where Jon Stewart played a mushtache? Thats right, a mushtache.

  • Nov. 21, 2008, 3:25 p.m. CST


    by The Eskimo

    edit function please...sheesh!

  • Nov. 21, 2008, 3:36 p.m. CST

    "...strives more for timelessness ..."

    by DoctorWho?

    THANK YOU! The very reason I despised Shrek and wouldn't go near A Shark's Tale and blah blah whatever other hip-hoppy, fast food, too cool for school bullshit fostered on us. <p> My 5 yr old daughter wants Shrek...I give her Spirited Away.

  • Nov. 21, 2008, 6:08 p.m. CST

    Wall-E SUCKED because it was BORING AS HELL...

    by TheGhostWhoLurks

    BOLT, on the other hand, looks like a LOT of fun and much more in the vein of THE INCREDIBLES! Looking forward to seeing it this weekend... :)

  • Nov. 21, 2008, 6:19 p.m. CST

    Saw this today in 3D, review was spot-on

    by Dreamwriter

    Especially about the musical montage. What a way to bring a great movie down. Luckily, the montage eventually ended and the show picked itself back up again. I really liked Meet the Robinsons, though it had its flaws (too much Bowler-hat guy, not enough Robinsons), and this movie is way better.

  • Nov. 21, 2008, 6:29 p.m. CST

    Bolt is boring and unfunny

    by BrowncoatJedi

    I nearly fell asleep. To compare this with any Pixar film is just insane. Massawyrm, you must have been stoned.

  • Nov. 21, 2008, 10:26 p.m. CST


    by crankyoldguy

    you don't have kids, do you?

  • Nov. 21, 2008, 11:46 p.m. CST


    by Nasty In The Pasty

    Sweet, funny without resorting to movie reference and crotch-beating gags, and the 3D looked spectacular. Also amusing how the hamster looked quite a bit like Harry Knowles...

  • Nov. 22, 2008, 1:33 a.m. CST

    Meet the Robinsons...

    by SingingHatchet

    was as least as good as the worst Pixar Film. It had more heart than Cars. And it was quirky too, not the same cliched jokes, etc.

  • Nov. 22, 2008, 6:43 a.m. CST

    cat voice was annoying, but i liked it.

    by captainCAPSLOCK

    it had a lot of laughs and there were some - dare i day it - Pixar topping visuals. they really went to town with attention to detail for lighting and effects.

  • Nov. 22, 2008, 11:14 a.m. CST

    The Hollywood pigeons were hilarious

    by terry1978

    Not the NYC ones, but in the latter part of the film when they're trying to pitch new ideas to Bolt. I swear I could not stop laughing.

  • Nov. 22, 2008, 6:30 p.m. CST

    Wyrm, your Pixar scale is off

    by GunRunner

    Wall-E is pretty inferior and not near as interesting as both The Incredibles and Ratatouille. Wall-E is a weaker entry in Pixar's portfolio. I think Ratatouille is by far the best Pixar film, so if Bolt is in that ballpark, I'm sold.

  • Nov. 23, 2008, 10:11 p.m. CST

    Incredibles and Ratatouille are not in the same ballpark

    by Rupee88

    Incredibles in in the top 3 best Pixar moves and the Rat is near the bottom.

  • Nov. 23, 2008, 10:14 p.m. CST

    another reason I'm glad I don't have kids

    by Rupee88

    i'm glad I don't have to go see crappy kiddie flicks. This one actually sounds pretty decent although the trailer suggested otherwise. But I'll wait to download this at some hurry and the 3D won't sell me on it. Although I thought 3D Beowulf was amazing and the only way to see that film.

  • Nov. 24, 2008, 12:55 p.m. CST


    by Lenny Nero

    In Doogal, Jon Stewart played a blue spring that fired icicles out of his mustache. Get your shitty animated films right, dammit!!!!!!! YAARGH!