A Review of Disney’s Bolt

November 30, 2008
I went to see Disney’s Bolt yesterday (Nov. 29, 2008), and I must say, it seems to be truly enlightening. I just had to write a review for it (plus it doubled as part of a college assignment). If you haven’t seen Disney’s Bolt, I encourage you to do so. As a warning, this article will be a total movie spoiler if you haven’t already seen it, and it doesn’t function as a complete summary.

There is nothing like the opposites of the optimistic idealist and pessimistic realist coming together. Bolt the dog, the optimistic idealist, had been raised and pampered to think he is a particularly special special dog with extraordinary powers that prevail against anything (see “The Chase”), while he is really a TV star. Mittens the cat, the pessimistic realist, had been raised in perhaps an average domestic setting, declawed, and later abandoned to fend for herself, though at the expense of others.1 Both have preconceived ideas of what is and should be. Bolt believes everything will work out for the best and come to light while Mittens believes nothing can possibly be as good as it seems or sounds and things only seem to become worse.

Mittens initially seems to put more emphasis on what she doesn’t have, her claws, and clearly has a great yearning for what she has lost. This seems to establish her pessimistic view. (I fully suspect her name isn’t coincidence either.) She even goes to the degree of deceiving others as having claws when she doesn’t, just as Bolt with his powers, but she is knowledgeable whereas he is ignorant. Bolt initially seems to put more emphasis on what he thinks he has, his powers, and that no harm can come to him. This seems to establish his optimistic view, though he is under delusion. However, this is not to say that Mittens isn’t under a delusion. Though she can see and observe what really is, she is confined to believe nothing can get better as mentioned earlier.

The synthesis of these characters is what seems to manifest a true ideal. I’m inclined to say there is a great need for optimistic realists that strive toward the ideal. I would think that optimistic idealists striving toward the ideal would get stuck in the mode of thinking there is a definitive for something where there is not, where the optimistic realists would perhaps better seek out and know what is definitive and stay loose on what is not. The only difference I can see between a pessimistic idealist and pessimistic realist is one thinks there’s an ideal while the other doesn’t, but both would think such a thing is unattainable.

But when does this synthesis take place for a realist to seek for the ideal and the idealist to know what is real? Looking the optimistic idealist and the pessimistic realist in particular, it seems both have to reach rock bottom and reach a revelation. Before the “Animal Rescue” scene, Bolt seems to reach his rock bottom when he realizes the cage of an animal control truck was opened for him by Rhino the hamster, as opposed to him bursting it open as he initially supposed. Seeing his black bolt symbol rub off is another shocker to him as he receives his reality check, he really is a TV star who never knew he was a TV star. In the “Animal Rescue” scene, we see Mittens in her rock bottom state in the cage of the shelter, as she seems to be contemplating her gloom and doom without reflecting on any good that has happened to her. She reaches her revelation when Bolt comes to save her. Before this point, Mittens seemed to have a purpose of bringing Bolt’s optimistic views to a crashing halt. Likewise, Bolt tried to maintain his highly unrealistic views of the world.

It seems that a bit more people seem to be pessimistic and focus on the bad things that have happened in their lifetime. Everyone seems to have their own sob stories to tell, but what about smile stories?

Toward the end of the movie, we see the need for the one in the optimistic moment to build up the other in a pessimistic moment.2 Bolt had to be built up by Rhino before he felt able to save Mittens. Mittens likewise had to be built up by Rhino before she would follow with Bolt going back to Penny. Context is also very important. Without proper context, messages can often be distorted and could be spread in such a distorted state. As Bolt comes to Penny, his “person,” Penny is acting on a set and embraces Bolt’s replacement. He is left with the impression that what Mittens has asserted to always be true, that love is temporary, really is true. However, Mittens is there to observe the whole context, to see that after Penny’s synthetic embrace, she expresses her desire for Bolt to return. Mittens relays this observation to Bolt, and an optimistic grasp on reality is established.

I throughly enjoyed this movie. (I observed a user comment found on IMDB titled “Bolt brings back true Disney.” I am inclined to believe so, but not based on the user’s expounding of the CGI quality.) Despite my expounding and dissecting of this movie, I must say, it seemed to have revived me as a child and is filled with social redeeming value. It seems to remind me of my favorite movie as a kid, Cats Don’t Dance, as the characters are truly something to embrace. The only thing I can’t understand is why Mittens is third on the cast list as opposed to second. (Okay, maybe I do know, but that doesn’t seem a good enough reason for me.) Nevertheless, it seems there is some revival in Disney, or Disney·PIXAR anyway, in looking through their recent CGI movies such as Incredibles, Cars, Ratatouille, and WALL·E. Memorable stories and characters seem to be coming back.

1 - Mittens is first introduced with a concern for lack food. This reminds me of Matthew 6:25-34/Luke 12:22-34, illustrating that the Christian need not worry over such things.
2 - As a member of Christ’s church, is is important to build up one another properly according to 1 Corinthians 3:9-17, 1 Thessalonians 5:11, et al.