Bolt 3-D

Movie Information

The Story: A TV-star dog -- who believes he’s some sort of “super dog” because he doesn’t realize he’s living his life on the set of a wildly popular adventure show -- escapes into the real world in order to track down his master, only to learn that life is much different in reality. The Lowdown: A perfectly perfunctory kiddie film, with nice enough animation, uneventful 3-D effects and absolutely zero surprises.
Score:

Genre: Animated Adventure/Comedy
Director: Chris Williams
Starring: (Voices of) John Travolta, Miley Cyrus, Susie Essman, Mark Walton, Malcolm McDowell
Rated: PG

About the most enthusiasm I can muster for Disney Studio’s Bolt 3-D—the newest entrant in capturing the hearts and minds of children (and the pocket books of their parents)—is to note that it exists. Beyond that, there isn’t much more to say about the film. It’s an innocuous, bland little animated movie with more formulas than a chemistry book. But since Bolt never tries to be anything more, it’ll be perfectly satisfactory for youngsters and consummately dull for parents.

The real draw is the film’s eyes-a-poppin’ 3-D presentation—which isn’t available at every theater. With the recent advent of digital projection and the 3-D renaissance it has allowed, no one has taken full advantage of the process like they could—or should—and Bolt is no different. (I’m holding out hope that the upcoming My Bloody Valentine 3-D will be trashy enough to give 3-D the treatment it truly deserves). In many ways, Bolt is worse than recent 3-D attempts. While it does carry some on-screen visual depth, the effects are as ho-hum as the rest of the movie, adding nothing to the film or the experience, making it feel like nothing more than a gimmicky afterthought created to milk a few extra bucks out of each ticket sale. There’s nary a memorable effect (other than the 3-D-induced headache you might get) in the entirety of Bolt. At least Meet the Robinsons (2007) had a neat flying sausage.

Beyond that, the film boasts the voice talents of John Travolta, Miley Cyrus and Malcolm McDowell (OK, I get Cyrus’ inclusion, but I never realized that 8-year-olds love Saturday Night Fever and A Clockwork Orange). Travolta voices Bolt, a heroic, super-powered canine on a once-popular, but now waning, TV show, where he runs around saving young Penny from the clutches of the nefarious Dr. Calico (McDowell). The only problem, however, is that Bolt—in some extraordinarily contrived scripting—doesn’t realize his life is prime-time programming, as the show’s director (Inside the Actor’s Studio’s James Lipton) believes in method acting to the extent that Bolt’s not allowed to know his life is being taped and manipulated by a TV studio.

It’s not until Bolt thinks Penny has once again been kidnapped that he escapes the studio lot and makes his way into the real world, only to find that his powers are nil (at first, he thinks it’s due to the Kryptonite-like effects of Styrofoam packing peanuts). After recruiting a declawed, neglected stray cat named Mittens (Susie Essman, The Man) and an overzealous hamster named Rhino (Mark Walton, Chicken Little), Bolt begins a cross-country journey from Manhattan to L.A. in order to rescue poor Penny. The trip quickly becomes a PG-rated story of animated self-discovery, as Bolt realizes the fraudulence of his life up to this point (how existential!) before, of course, overcoming all this in the final act.

The film’s lone bright spot is its Wachowskis-esque action opener, which works on the novel concept of the viewer being able to tell what is happening in an action sequence (James Bond, take note). But it’s all downhill from there as the movie’s humor is made up of pithy wisecracks and some stale, truly horrid Hollywood satire, with neither hide, nor hair of a surprise to be found in the entire movie. Bolt’s never actively bad, but it is—much like all Disney animation not festooned with the Pixar logo—actively uneventful. Rated PG for some mild action and peril.

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26 thoughts on “Bolt 3-D

  1. Just for the record, while Travolta is indeed odd casting, Malcolm McDowell has been doing voice-overs in an assortment of TV cartoons and animated features for about 15 years, including the dreadful Filmation Snow White rip-off “Happily ever After,” various superhero shows ostensibly aimed at slightly older viewers, and more recently and relevantly, a Disney Channel badly designed kiddie show as somebody’s grandpa. David Warner and Malcolm’s brother Roddy followed similar paths, to say nothing of the king of genuine Brits in cartoons, Tim Curry.

    No other comment so far, not having seen it. I kind of hated “Chicken Little,” and from animation buffs, this has been getting mixed reviews. But I have free tickets from a theater manager friend, and my dad tends to like driving to movies he can nap during (and not much else of interest is showing in my neck of the woods), so I may try to see it.

  2. Ken Hanke

    Malcolm McDowell has been doing voice-overs in an assortment of TV cartoons and animated features for about 15 years

    Well, it’s less embarassing and almost certainly pays better than appearing in junk like The List.

    Malcolm’s brother Roddy

    Oh, surely, you don’t mean that.

  3. I don’t, but it got a rise, didn’t it? Granted, it’s less amusing than talking about how Kate Smith’s son shamed the family name in HANCOCK; I have a friend who does this every time somebody has a shared or similar surname, which does get tiring after awhile. So my heartfelt apologies.

  4. Justin Souther

    Just for the record, while Travolta is indeed odd casting, Malcolm McDowell has been doing voice-overs in an assortment of TV cartoons and animated features for about 15 years

    Well, my point — in a roundabout, obtuse sort of way — was simply questioning why these big animated films need name talent, especially since kids aren’t going to be familiar with the names attached to the voices. Of course, I’m sure some sort of legitimacy is gained, but it seems like proper casting might be a bit more important — and something that doesn’t quite mesh as far as Travolta is concerned in this role.

    The rest of the cast — including McDowell — more or less fit their characters nicely.

  5. I agree re Travolta. My point is that it seems pretty unlikely McDowell *was* chosen for name recognition (Travolta and Cyrus’ names are on the posters, which confirms the stunt casting there, but nobody else’s). Rather, it was likely because of his acting talents, resume, he’s been listed with LA agencies for animation work for years, and “vaguely posh British accent=evil” is quick and easy casting.

    He’s been doing this for some time, on things from “Superman” to “Captain Simian and the Space Monkeys” (as a mutant cyborg monkey who flung brains instead of feces), with the occasional wise talking dog in Disney Channel movie pap for variety. So this isn’t stuntcasting in the way that, for example, Tom Selleck in “Meet the Robinsons” was (the latter building a whole joke around it even), or most Dreamworks projects (notably nearly everyone in their “2D” “Sinbad” from awhile back.)

    Basically, celebrity stuntcasting in animation, when done merely for the name recognition and not based on the vocal qualities or acting abilities, is a bugbear that stretches back to the Disney era and reached a peak of sorts in the 1960s (Judy Garland, Robert Goulet, and Red Buttons in “Gay Purree”; the all-star cast of the odd Rankin/Bass feature feature “The Daydreamer”) and on through the 80s and 90s. It’s only in the last decade or so that more critics and folks outside of hardcore animation afficianados have really noticed (and also that it’s become far more the norm with next to no exceptions, and with increasingly less distinguished voices, like Matt Damon in “Titan AE” and “Spirit,” and other folks whose screen presence doesn’t carry over in voice roles, and some with no real presence or charisma anyway). The other difference is that the likes of Ed Wynn, Phil Harris, Terry-Thomas, and Victor Borge had more interesting voices and personas that meshed than today, but even then, Patty Duke as Thumbelina in “Daydreamer” is pretty darn bland. Why does the practice persist? Nobody seems to fully know. Most involved know kids don’t care, but it’s tied into the “star name” mentality (and hoping to get adults or college students to see the film, which with “Bolt,” is pretty unlikely) or because the producers and/or directors are just star struck and want to say they worked with so and so (and just sometimes, because the actors in question really do fit the roles; “Ratatouille,” enlivened considerably by Peter O’Toole but also with an unexpected turn by cartoon vet Brad Garrett, is the best recent example). The practice has reached the point where it even affects dubbing in places like France, Germany, and Mexico, though in many cases the casting is actually more interesting or telling culturally: Ricky Martin in the Mexican dub of “Hercules” (over mostly B-level Tate Donovan in the US version), Gerard Depardieu filling in for Mel Gibson in the French “Chicken Run” (which I’d love to hear), and my favorite, Elke Sommer replacing Eartha Kitt in “Emperor’s New Groove,”

    All in all, “Bolt” is actually less guilty than “Madagascar” or several other films: three or four “star” principals, four or five in cameo or supporting roles, and everyone else (including the comic relief hamster) played either by the usual TV cartoon/video game suspects or by members of the production crew (the latter also a growing trend, though one whose pedigree tends to raise fewer eyebrows, probably because it goes back to Walt Disney or, for the more discerning, Fleischer artist and storyman Jack Mercer as Popeye). Travolta and Cyrus are the most blatant examples (scuttlebutt from those who worked on the projects is that the “no-name” child actress who plays the “younger” voice of he girl character recorded the whole thing, but after the success of the Hannah Montana concert movie or somesuch, someone insisted they use Cyrus). The whole project has been through development hell (originally, under the title “American Dog” and a significantly different story, the project was headed by Chris Sanders of “Lilo and Stitch,” who I really wanted to see more from.)

  6. Ken Hanke

    I don’t, but it got a rise, didn’t it? Granted, it’s less amusing than talking about how Kate Smith’s son shamed the family name in HANCOCK

    Considering I once spent the better part of an awards ceremony at some horror fan event worrying my then-publisher that I really was going to ask low-rent scream queen Betsy Jones-Moreland if Mantan Moreland was her father, I’m in no position to say much. (And, no, this was not a folly of youth. I was 43 at the time.)

  7. Justin Souther

    I agree re Travolta. My point is that it seems pretty unlikely McDowell *was* chosen for name recognition (Travolta and Cyrus’ names are on the posters, which confirms the stunt casting there, but nobody else’s). Rather, it was likely because of his acting talents, resume, he’s been listed with LA agencies for animation work for years, and “vaguely posh British accent=evil” is quick and easy casting.

    I understand that and wholly agree. My original comment the in review itself was simply a throwaway joke (and admittedly, not a very good one).

  8. Ken Hanke

    My point is that it seems pretty unlikely McDowell *was* chosen for name recognition (Travolta and Cyrus’ names are on the posters, which confirms the stunt casting there, but nobody else’s).

    This strikes me as a yes-and-no situation, simply because it’s pretty inconceivable that there wasn’t a perfectly viable, smooth-voiced Brit (or even faux-Brit) voice actor who could have filled the bill for less money than McDowell. With that in mind, it still qualifies as going for a name actor for no very good reason, except name recognition value. The thinking seems skewed, becaue kids neither know, nor care, and I’m hard-pressed to believe names are a deal-breaker with parents as to whether or not they’ll take the kids to see a movie like this.

    I haven’t seen Bolt and really have no plans to rectify that cinematic omission, but while I’m sure that McDowell is fine in the role, I really don’t imagine that it’s in any way comparable to Peter O’Toole in Ratatouille, which was the primary thing that made that film for me.

    It’s interesting that you cite Chris Sanders and Lilo and Stitch — the only American animated film to make my top 10 list since I’ve been doing such lists — because it’s a perfect example of good voice casting that doesn’t rely on name value. While the voice actors are all largely recognizable, there’s not a single one in there that I’d associate with being a draw. Ever hear of anyone wanting to catch that new Tia Carrere or Daveigh Chase picture? Ving Rhames just possibly on a cult level.

  9. >This strikes me as a yes-and-no situation, simply because it’s pretty inconceivable that there wasn’t a perfectly viable, smooth-voiced Brit (or even faux-Brit) voice actor who could have filled the bill for less money than McDowell.

    Oh, it’s not inconceivable, but once someone like McDowell has reached a point where he’s making multiple guest voice appearances on Disney Channel’s “Phineas and Ferb” and similar TV fare (such as one of Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim series, which tries to be “edgier” but as far as budgets go, probably isn’t substantially higher), I think money becomes less of an issue. True, Tim Curry, who seems far less discriminating in these areas, would have been easier. It just doesn’t seem comparable, for example, to casting Ian McShane, with cable work making him more of a US name in recent years, in “Shrek 3″ and “Kung Fu Panda.”

    I agree with you on the central issues. It’s just that I’ve spent way too much time closely studying trends in animation and voice-over. So my point is that by now, the likes of McDowell, David Warner, John Cleese (and several others if I was feeling less tired) are heard on a quite regular basis on TV kiddie fare, in animated features, video games, and in general not for exhorbitant amounts of money. So they won’t know the name, but chances are one or two with good ears will go, “Hey, it’s that Teen Titans villain or Whatshisname’s Grandpa!” That’s assuming the voice work makes much of an impression at all. At age 9 or 10 or thereabouts, I admit I was probably in the minority among my peers in pinning down the voice of Hans Conried by simply comparing the credits of “Peter Pan” and “Hoppity Hooper.” Having McDowell doesn’t *hurt*, but it’s not the same as Travolta or Hannah Alabama (in the Disney presskit, in fact, his bio comes below Susie Essman, from another cable series I’ve never seen, and animator Mark Walton who plays the hamster.) And for that matter, McDowell’s bio seems to emphasize his stint on “Heroes” last year or so (yet another TV show I don’t pay attention to), which they may be banking on some of their audience having seen. So in a way (and like you, I haven’t seen it either, so it’s probably not the best example in terms of quality or casting of character), it’s almost closer to, say, Walter Catlett in “Pinocchio” or other early examples (and while the actors were promoted in press releases and interviews and the publicity blitz, none received credit on the first few animated features). An active character presence whose voice might very well ring a few bells, but not put posteriors in the seats. My other point is simply that it’s nothing new or a point to be suddenly astonished by (as Justin seemed to slightly be); go back to 1982, and “Secret of NIMH” sported Derek Jacobi, John Carradine, Dom DeLuise (who probably rated higher on the kiddie recognition meter), Hermione Baddeley (possible ditto thanks to “Mary Poppins”), and Aldo Ray (!)

    O’Toole in “Ratatouille” (still one of the best voice-only performances I’ve heard in years, possibly excepting some of the work “Persepolis”), apart from just being a sublime match of character design and vocals, also benefited from the fact that O’Toole *isn’t* someone kids or teens can hear just by turning on Disney Channel or Cartoon Network. Prior to “Ratatouille,” his last cartoon voice work was over a decade ago, in a rather ill-conceived Nutcracker flick with mostly Canadian voice talents and a few “names,” like Kiefer Sutherland and Phyllis Diller (who definitely isn’t choosy about voice work). It sank without a trace and now turns up on Good Times DVD releases. All of which goes to prove the larger issue, where I agree with you entirely, that casting a celebrity as a draw neither improves the quality of an animated feature (an iffy prospect even in live action, but at least there they have opportunities to consume set decorations and steal scenes and otherwise make a bad film slightly more endurable, though often not, or you can focus on their facial contortions and so on, all of which is denied in animation) nor does it guarantee box-office success.

    I also agree with you on “Lilo and Stitch. For that matter, though I know you’re less fond of it, Pixar’s “The Incredibles” is in similar territory, with Samuel L. Jackson as the biggest potential draw in a supporting role, while “Cars” clearly went the opposite route (posters boasted the names of Owen Wilson and Paul Newman, most spots touted Larry the Cable Guy, supporting cast included Michael Keaton, George Carlin and character types like Cheech Marin and Tony Schalhoub [who if they don't help, have never been known to hurt], and way too much indulgent stuntcasting of automotive or racing figures and sportscasters [one friend was thrilled that NPR's Click and Clack were in it], plus Jay Leno as “Jay Limo” for no good reason whatsoever.)

    And actually, been awhile since I watched it, but I’d put “Chicken Run” on a similar level (which is a slightly different animal due to Aardman, so it has a very British feel, and like other Brit animated features, death and escape are overarching themes). They had one really big US-recognized name at the time, Mel Gibson, who actually gave a fairly enjoyable and appropriate performance (as opposed to sounding blandly accented in “Pocahontas”). The rest of the roster featured distinguished performers, to be sure (Julia Sawalha, Jane Horrocks, Tony Haygarth), but with the possible (not that likely) exception of Miranda Richardson, not one of whom kids *or* most parents would have been drawn to by name; though the case may well be different now with regards to Timothy Spall or Imelda Staunton, at least for the likes of you and I, it didn’t apply then.

    And yes, I do spend too much time thinking about (and writing about) such things.

  10. Ken Hanke

    I haven’t time now, but quickly — one thing that needs to be factored in when dealing with Brits is that they come from a background that prides itself on viewing being a “working actor” as the end-all be-all of the profession. This comes across as completely baffling to an American mindset, which views the quality of what’s being offered as a much higher factor. Think Ben Kingsley in Thunderbirds and BloodRayne.

  11. Oh, I definitely agree on that one too. Combined with the fact that radio drama as an artform has not been allowed to die in Britain and a likely greater stress placed on voice training on the whole, that’s one reason US and UK animation (whether quickie kids TV stuff or more ambitious theatrical ventures) from the 1970s and 1980s have a very different sound, and not just the accents. During this period, in the US, animation had definitely reached a nadir with very few exceptions, and as such even decent voice actors were often lowered to the common denominator (while just plain bad or inexperienced players, coupled with bad dialogue, were commonplace), with a few exceptions (Daws Butler, the always fine Hans Conried, usually Ken Mars gave good value). But most of this stuff isn’t worth revisiting even for the voices. “Names” in TV at this time were the likes of Paul Lynde, and even Disney features used mostly TV stars (Bob Newhart, Eva Gabor). Attempts to class up the features just muddled it further, as with “Robin Hood,” which borders on aural schizophrenia: posh (or reasonably close) Brit accents from the very funny Peter Ustinov and Terry-Thomas, Brian Bedford, and Monica Evans and Carole Shelley in one corner. On the other, Southern American, mostly of the rustic kind, from Andy Devine, Phil Harris, Roger Miller, and the immortal thespic trio of TV’s Mr. Haney, Festus, and Goober Pyle, together at last.

    On the other side of the pond? While there were still folks like Peter Hawkins who fell squarely in the category of voice artist as their primary mediu, plus assorted BBC radio players, UK TV (usually employing a single narrator to do all voices) featured Ustinov again, Lionel Jeffries, Roy Kinnear, Bernard Cribbins, Bery Reid, and Michael Hordern, for starters. Cosgrove-Hall, who produced most of the higher profile mid-late 1980s series and specials, used good radio talent, but it’s telling that David Jason (already a very busy on-camera TV star) was their lead voice (and often supporting regulars) on four or five series. Their stop-motion “Wind in the Willows” (sometimes a bit too slow and hampered by the requisite random cutesy animal juveniles with squeaky voices) benefited from both very striking models and a fine voicecast: Hordern, Jason, Richard Pearson, Ian Carmichael, and Peter Sallis (who really should qualify as a name, at least in the UK or to PBS Britcom and Hammer devotees, though here most know him if at all as the voice of Wallace). The same applies to animated features, from respectable entries like “Watership Down”, “Plague Dogs”, and “When the Wind Blows” with such actors as John Hurt, John Mills, Ralph Richardson, Joss Ackland, Nigel Hawthorne, and Peggy Ashcroft (the latter two films very adult, and even grim, in a manner unlike almost any US feature before or since, X-ratings and “edgy” attempts aside) to 90s trash like “Freddie FRO7″ (Kingsley, Hordern, Hawthorne, Billie Whitelaw, Jonathan Pryce, Brian Blessed, Jenny Agutter, etc.) and so on. This wouldn’t really become common in the US outside of feature films until the 1990s.

    So really, I’m not disagreeing with your or Justin except on one simple point, which may well sound like nitpicking:
    >it’s pretty inconceivable that there wasn’t a >perfectly viable, smooth-voiced Brit (or even >faux-Brit) voice actor who could have filled the >bill for less money than McDowell. With that in >mind, it still qualifies as going for a name >actor for no very good reason, except name >recognition value.

    I looked and seems McDowell’s voice demo is no longer online, though the database still has Kingsley, Michael York, Patrick Stewart, Tim Curry, David Warner, Alan Rickman, and probably the biggest “faux-Brit” celebrity voice-over name, Christopher Plummer, who has been in everything from Canadian fairytale specials and “Madeline” to the English dub of the very odd Rene Laloux film “Gandahar” to straight to video junk like “Babes in Toyland” as Barnaby (and he’ll be in Pixar’s “Up,” where in all likelihood his name very well may have been chosen as a possible draw.) Even Peter O’Toole’s “Ruling Class” co-star Carolyn Seymour has spent too much of the last decade doing voices in video games, especially “Star Wars” entries, as nameless fighter pilot captains, where any idea of name casting is entirely irrelevant.

    So I don’t know who McDowell’s voice agent is (it’s generally a separate pursuit with different fees and expectations), but he’s been doing this on a frequent enough basis now on projects of varying budget and prestige that he can certainly command as much or more than the best and busiest of the cartoon/commercial folk who are unknown to the world at large, but likely not that much more (and if McDowell’s interest is primarily to keep busy in slack times or because he enjoys the voice gigs, chances are he’s priced competitively.) So the basic situation is *likely* this (conjecture on my point, but fits with similar patterns in the voice-over field). They *could* get another Brit or faux-Brit for the same amount or less, but apart from the fact that many of those tend to focus on the more lucrative field of audiobooks (Simon Jones has a pretty pile from that), why should Disney bother when they can get McDowell, in whom they have both a known quantity as an actor *and* any extra name recognition is just a bonus (not the main reason for casting). Looking at the Bolt presskit, McDowell’s casting, at least in theory, makes more sense from a general practical standpoint than Travolta or several other supporting players: TV names James Lipton, Greg Germann, and the guy who plays Ridge on the soap “Bold and the Beautiful,” none of whom have any previous animation or even commercial voice experience. On the overall fame scale, they’d definitely rank below Malcolm McDowell, but they’re the ones where it really makes no sense to use them unless you either think they’re a draw, or someone involved had a crush on the soap opera star or something like that.

    Financially, things have changed a bit in the last decade, especially post-”Shrek,” since Myers, Murphy, Jim Carrey, and others now command eight figure salaries for leading roles (whereas George C. Scott, as the villain in “Rescuers Down Under,” commanded a respectable salary, enough he joked to help pay off his ex-wives, but nothing close). But McDowell’s isn’t a leading role (the presskit even lists him under “Rounding out the cast”) and while he’s still a better thespian overall, he’d have to fight to get a comparable salary and there’s no real indication that he’d want to (which I think goes back to your working actor mindset; they don’t want to be underpaid, but they likely don’t mind making the same as the best in that specific field). Apart from flavor of the moment headliners and other outright stuntcasting approaches, what any actor makes doing cartoon work is not necessarily comparable to what they could command for a live-action film. (And that doesn’t always make a lot of sense either, especially since a Travolta or Brad Pitt or Matt Damon are far blander vocally, but it’s generally true.)

    Outside of those names we’ve already mentioned, in fact, “Bolt” is mildly surprising vocally. It’s not like “Cars” or the non-Disney “Robots” where even the tiniest bits were mostly filled by names cast for name value alone. “Robots” even gave opening credits billing, albeit in blocks comparable to key supporting character actors in a live action film, to Al Roker, James Earl Jones, Jay Leno, Stephen Tobolowsky, and Terry Bradshaw, for (as far as I can recall) one to three lines apiece (in Jones’ case, just there to speak one Darth Vader line as another pointless pop reference.)

    Instead, the rest of the parts are filled by the usual cartoon/computer game suspects, crew members for a couple roles, or actors who might be recognizable but not as draws and do mostly voice work now (Diedrich Bader as “veteran cat.”) That’s become pretty uncommon now in a way that it wouldn’t have been in 1994, say.

    The general “what have you done lately” Hollywood mentality also comes into play at times, though differently. So apart from the niche specialists, the names that crop up most often in the agency lists under “celebrity” are either folks who did voice work before and *then* achieved name status to varying degrees (Brad Garrett), B-lists and solid character actors, respected pros like Hal Holbrook who just like doing the work or find it easier for health reasons or because of ageism and so on, or those who like the idea of voice work (whether in animation, commercials, industrial/documentary narration, videogames, or audiobooks) as a nice sideline (and as a bonus, one where even the pap tends to be less personally embarassing and humiliating, and easier and far more lucrative). McDowell probably fits into the latter. There’s also the has-beens and neverwases, who can barely find work in any field save voice-over. The prime example in this category is Adam West, who was in “Chicken Little” and “Meet the Robinsons,” a regular on four different animated series, routinely voices himself, and shows up in “Scooby-Doo” DVDs (and of course, he never changes his voice or his “acting” style). But changes in fortune can make a difference. There was a “Spider-Man” series in the 1990s, whose regular or recurring cast, often as villains, featured a mix of regular working cartoon voices, celebrity names (several well past their heydays), and near-celebrity character actors: Ed Asner, Efrem Zimbalist Jr., Roscoe Lee Browne, Jeff Corey, Eddie Albert, Roy Dotrice, Paul Winfield, John Vernon, Rue McClanahan, John Phillip Law, and Nita Talbot to name a few, plus Mark Hamill (who basically became a busy working-day voice actor starting with “Batman”) and both David Warner *and* Malcolm McDowell. Anyway, for a time, Martin Landau was a semi-regular as one villain, for about two years. Then he won the Oscar for “Ed Wood” and understandably felt justified in raising his prices. So they recast the role with Richard Moll from “Night Court,” who was far less choosy. Now, several years and a few misfires later, Martin Landau’s agency is touting him heavily for “premium animation voices” again, and at what appears to be something closer to the old rate.

    And that’s a lot of blather from me, but I’m willing to bet this discussion is still more interesting than “Bolt.”

  12. Ken Hanke

    Being that it’s almost 4 a.m. and I’ve been subjected to a screening of Twilight (I may never recover), I’m going to pass on even trying to get into the midst of this, but, Andrew, I have to compliment you on accomplishing something I have not seen done since Dr. Antineoconwhomever was posting — you have gone beyond the borders of a single post! I congratulate you — and, yes, it probably is more interesting than Bolt.

    By the way, Landau is not the first to let an accomplishment get the better of him. After former East Side Kid/Bowery Boy Huntz Hall landed a choice role (as Paramount Pictures head Jesse Lasky) in Ken Russell’s Valentino in 1977, he quickly proceeded to price himself right out of the business altogether. Sad thing was, he was pretty good in Valentino.

    Oh, yes…I like the idea that Adam West has an acting style. It can usually be found in most lumber yards.

  13. I almost didn’t see this film because of this review, but after reading more on Rotten Tomatoes, I took a chance on it. I’m glad I did. Some critics are saying that this is the best non-Pixar Disney cartoon since LILO AND STITCH, and I think that I agree. It’s a blast, witty, very funny and not overloaded with too many celebrity voices. Check it out.

  14. Ken Hanke

    Some critics are saying that this is the best non-Pixar Disney cartoon since LILO AND STITCH

    How much is that really saying?

    I’ll not argue the point — if there is a point to argue — because I’ve only seen bits and pieces of the film, but nothing I’ve seen has exactly grabbed me. Sight unseen, however, I’ll say it’s a better choice than Twilight.

  15. >How much is that really saying?

    Literally, it’s saying it’s better than “Atlantis: The Lost Empire,” “Treasure Planet,” “Home on the Range,” “Chicken Little,” and “Meet the Robinsons.” And yeah, that doesn’t mean much. A friend has variously inisted that several forms of internal parasite, cancer, and possibly death itself are better than “Atlantis.”

  16. >I’m going to pass on even trying to get into the >midst of this, but, Andrew, I have to compliment >you on accomplishing something I have not seen >done since Dr. Antineoconwhomever was posting—>you have gone beyond the borders of a single >post! I congratulate you—and, yes, it probably >is more interesting than Bolt.

    Later that day, a loved one informed me that I had forgotten to take my medication that morning. I’m not sure if that was a factor, though I fear not, since I know I’m not the most concise poster at the best of times. Not coincidentally, though, I’ve been brainstorming ideas for an article on voice-over work (debating whether to cover the celebrity angle or dig into the old theatrical shorts dominated by radio actors), so in an unguarded moment, I let that all spill over in an extremely messy fashion.

    >Oh, yes…I like the idea that Adam West has an >acting style. It can usually be found in most >lumber yards.

    That provoked an audible reaction from me.

  17. Ken Hanke

    Not coincidentally, though, I’ve been brainstorming ideas for an article on voice-over work (debating whether to cover the celebrity angle or dig into the old theatrical shorts dominated by radio actors), so in an unguarded moment, I let that all spill over in an extremely messy fashion.

    Depending on your level of ambition, you could well have the makings of a scholarly press book if you took this to its logical conclusion. And, yes, I’m completely serious.

    That provoked an audible reaction from me.

    Then, in the words of Jean Hagen, all my hard work ain’t been in vain for nuthin’.

  18. Freddy

    Wow..all I can say is “wow”
    I got tired just scrolling through all that nonsense. Bolt is a really good movie, the plot – although predictable, had some nice nuances and out right hilarious scences that made it fun. The 3-D wasn’t over the top, and I look at that as a good thing. The audience would get the occasional ladder swinging at them, but mostly it was really well done. There were some beautiful window and double-reflection scenes that were breathtaking.

    My kids (oblivious to voice overs) were rolling in their seats, I was having a great time and method acting was the last thing on my mind.

  19. TokyoTaos

    I just wanted to add my two cents! For the last five years I’ve had a ‘little sister’ I’ve been mentoring who like me loves the movies. I am not exaggerating when I say we have seen every single animated movie that has come out in the last five years. I’ve got to say that in my opinion Bolt is far superior to most of the ones I’ve seen. It wasn’t even the animation per se but the story and the characters. I loved it! If you have kids – or if you just like heartfelt stories about friends crossing the country together – then I highly recommend this film.

  20. Morgan

    I have to wholeheartedly disagree. I went and saw the movie, thought it was very good and had a blast with the 3-D effects. It was very well done. I would give Hanke a pass as just having an especially cranky day and not in any mood for this kind of movie, but I have a hard, hard time giving anyone any slack who gave the Da Vinci Code 4 stars.

    I mean really. The Da Vinci Code. 4 stars. It’s a long, hard road back to credibility once someone has gone and done something as bad as that.

  21. Ken Hanke

    I would give Hanke a pass as just having an especially cranky day and not in any mood for this kind of movie

    Uh, this isn’t my review.

    I mean really. The Da Vinci Code. 4 stars.

    Hey, I found it entertaining for what it was. Don’t get too hung up on the star rating, it’s an apparently necessary evil that rarely makes the actual review that clear.

  22. Morgan

    My bad on the reviewer. But still, The Da Vinci Code. I can’t help but think that it got 3 1/2 of those stars just because it irritated all the uptight Christians.

    But leaving aside all the christian elements, has anyone ever actually seen a stupider story with less believable characters….ever?

    Just consider the first scene. Does that in any way make any sense whatsoever?

    I’m giving you a huge break because you admit that you never read the book. You will die a much happier man for it. I’m sure I am blinded by my hatred for the worst written book I have ever been forced to read.

    James Patterson seems like James Joyce in comparison. He took the hack writing style of Robert Ludlum and managed to combine it with the spellbinding storytelling of a 3rd grader.

    Honestly, I love books. I read them constantly. I had never before been offended by a book until this atrociously terribly written trash was published with perhaps the most ingenious marketing campaign ever.

    Christians were offended about what it said about Jesus. They should have been offended by how poorly it was said.

  23. Ken Hanke

    But leaving aside all the christian elements, has anyone ever actually seen a stupider story with less believable characters….ever?

    I can cite several examples currently playing in theaters.

    Just consider the first scene. Does that in any way make any sense whatsoever?

    It must have made a significant impression on you. At this distance and with a few hundred movies in between, there’s no way I can even tell you what the opening scene was.

    I’m giving you a huge break because you admit that you never read the book. You will die a much happier man for it. I’m sure I am blinded by my hatred for the worst written book I have ever been forced to read.

    Well, I did read it after seeing the film. I can’t say I quite share your — to me somewhat excessive — outrage. It’s not an especially good book, no, but I’ve certainly read worse. It is, however, a very shrewdly structured book — carefully designed to keep the reader reading by use of a cliffhanger device. Want to find out what happened in this chapter? Well, then you have to read the next one before we get back to that. Not great literature, but it’s good for creating a pop culture “page turner.”

  24. Jessamyn

    Just wanted to say that I quite enjoyed Andrew Leal’s two-part essay on the mechanics of the voice-over business. Seriously, I thought it was an interesting glimpse into a world about which I know nothing.

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