Elaine at the movies : Bolt

Elaine Blum

Perhaps the average college student feels lame in a theater surrounded by an audience predominantly under the age of 12. You may wonder: Why spend seven bucks on a movie aimed at the younger demographic? But I tell you, let go of the assumption that all animated movies are just for kids. There is a lot to be said for their lighthearted humor.
“Bolt” does not rely on the bubblegum dialogue that some animated movies get by on. Sure, it does have one-liners that prompt the kid behind you to immediately and loudly repeat them. Just bear in mind that you yourself will later use these same quotes to amuse your own friends.
And like other successful animated movies, “Bolt” subtly spoofs pop culture in a way that the older crowd will appreciate, even if the humor is lost on youngsters.
Furthermore, the predictability of an animated movie is actually enjoyable. You already know that there will be no shocking twists, no mind tricks, no ambiguities, and no chance of offensive material. Best of all, you know that no matter how discouraging the set-up, everything will have a happy ending.
While the premise is pleasantly predictable, the cast of characters manages some uniqueness. This is rather impressive, since the temptation is to imitate previously popular animated characters.
Bolt is a television super-dog star who does not know that he lives on a film set or that all of his superpowers are engineered by a special effects team. Mittens is a jaded and sassy alley cat commissioned to help Bolt when misfortune finds him far from Hollywood. Rhino is a spunky hamster and connoisseur of television who travels protected by his exercise ball. These three allies provide a fresh mix of characters that add uniqueness to a movie that might have otherwise been formulaic.
Another plus: Unlike some kids’ movies, “Bolt” does not force an emotional ending. It manages some heartfelt emotion without being overly sappy. It also avoids the clich****accent e**** of trying to teach kids a fun lesson. There is no moralizing. You’re not expected to learn something from this movie-going experience. The movie does not try to take itself too seriously.
Perhaps this as good of a lesson as any for the audience: it’s okay to not take yourself too seriously. Indulge the little kid inside of you who still enjoys cartoons. There is absolutely nothing wrong with succumbing to some mindless fun — especially at a time when you are stressed about those two papers, a research project, and the looming, ever-frightening tenth week.

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