• A Review Page For Those Movies You Watch At Home!

    Couch Potato Movie Reviews is, obviously, a blog that exclusively reviews movies. What makes this blog different is the fact that all of the films we are reviewing are all movies that are available on home movie rental companies such as Redbox, Netflix, Blockbuster, and your quickly disappearing neighborhood rental store. This blog is designed to take a more detailed look at those movies that either were sent straight to DVD, received a very limited release in the theaters, or were distributed through the art house or film festival circuit. We will also review those big Hollywood films, but only after they are available for home viewing.

    All the reviews are written by fans of the great art of film making rather than some newspaper reviewer or stuffy film student. We don’t know everything about film but we do know what we like, and we are more than happy to share our opinions with you. What you do with those opinions are totally up to you, although comments are welcome and encouraged.

    Each film review has a one to five star rating at the end of the critique. Here is what those star ratings mean for you couch potatoes:

    * * * * * : Five stars: go and buy this one, don’t just rent it!

    * * * * : Four stars: put this at the top of your rental list.

    * * * : Three stars: average, not bad just not great either.

    * * : Two stars: only rent if you have to see everything.

    * : One star: don’t waste your time with this.

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YEAR: 2008

GENRE: Animation and Family

Disney has been for forerunner in the animated family film world ever since Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs graced the big screen in 1937. Between their amazing catalog of animated masterpieces and the distribution of the Pixar empire it is safe to say that Mickey Mouse is the big cheese of the animation world. As wonderful as the Disney catalog may be, the company still releases the occasional clunker of a film especially since companies such as Dreamworks are creating legitimate competition for the family film giant. Regrettably this is the case for Bolt, an animation effort that shamelessly borrows plotlines from too many films and comes across as lacking any real substance.

Bolt (voiced by John Travolta) is an American white shepherd who is the star of a science fiction television show. On the show Bolt has special powers: lasers shooting out of his eyes, super strength, and a Hulk-like bark that stops bad guys in their tracks. Bolt has lived his entire life on the set of the show and actually believes that all his actions with his young sidekick Penny (Miley Cyrus) are real and not entertainment fallacy for couch potatoes. Bolt and Penny are accidentally separated at the studio and bolt ends up across the country in New York. Assisted by moody feline Mittens (Susie Essman) and enthusiastic hamster fan Rhino (Mark Walton), Bolt travels across the country to reunite with his lost human and deals with the reality that he is just a normal dog and not a superhero.

As the story drags on it is obvious that the writers borrowed from a lot of other films such as The Truman Show (character who has no idea his life is living on a TV set), Toy Story (discovering that one does not have any real powers) and Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey (lost animals traveling the country) without any real efforts to cover their tracks which gives Bolt a recycled, stale feel. The two main characters are voiced by current superstars which was not the best move overall: Travolta seems to have phoned in his voice for the appearance, and pop star Cyrus is not a very good actress and adds little depth to her character. I understand that Disney wants to promote their ever growing line of teen pop divas, but most of the time their appearances in animated films cheapens the end product. Essman is the best voice actor of the lot and does a pretty good job as the alley cat with an attitude against humans and Bolt’s efforts to reunite with Penny. The animation is nothing special compared to contemporary efforts with the exception of the traveling threesome using a placemat map as their guide across the United States; the montages using this map as Bolt travels the country is unique and clever in its execution. The climax and ending of Bolt is engaging enough and is the best part of the movie, but the wait for the exciting end is stalemated by a run-of-the-mill plotline and story development.

Interesting tidbit: the phrase “bolt” is a sexual euphemism in Russian so the film‘s title was changed to Volt in most Russian and eastern European countries to not offend the families attending the movie. Bolt ended up not being the financial success that Disney expected as it cost a whopping $150 million to produce and only grossed about 70% of that in its theatrical release in the United States. This is a sign of the times: as the quality of animated products increase and wallets thin out due to economic times so does the expectation of the families and fans who attend these movies and want the most bang for their buck. Bolt is an example that an average at best film has no room in an animation world filled with superior Pixar and Dreamworks productions. The little ones will enjoy Bolt just like most animated films, but the adult fans will find Bolt cliché and at times sappy.

* * 1/2



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