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Animated films are sometimes not taken seriously, in regard to the emotional themes they adopt; however, there is one pooch whose journey is a wonderful way to show that pets are never ‘just pets’. 

Bolt and his owner Penny / Picture Credit: Disney

Bolt and his owner Penny / Picture Credit: Disney

Bolt (2008) is a story about a dog who never really had the chance to be one, until he becomes lost, and learns what the true value of life really is. Today (March 23rd, 2022) is National Puppy Day, and what better movie to watch than Bolt?

Bolt follows an adorable white German Shepherd puppy named, you guessed it, Bolt (John Travolta), who has been trained to appear in a popular TV show with his owner Penny (Miley Cyrus). 

However, once the cameras stop rolling, Bolt can’t distinguish real from fake, as he constantly growls at his trailer door, ready to protect Penny from harm. This breaks the young girl’s heart, as her dog doesn’t know how to have fun. 

On a regular shoot day, Bolt is tricked by a couple of cats who say they work for Doctor Calico (Malcolm McDowell), the villain of the TV show, and in doing so, gets himself totally and hopelessly lost. 

Bolt is the cutest puppy / Picture Credit: Disney

Bolt is the cutest puppy / Picture Credit: Disney

Bolt realises that he is now a long way from home, and must travel a considerable distance to get back to his beloved Penny; and, it seems that the poor pup will have no shortage of help along the way. 

Bolt is a beautiful film for many reasons, but the narrative is a shining example of why pets, and animals in general, should never be taken advantage of or treated with disrespect. 

The movie showcases the will and love animals can display, and the sadness at being left behind, which is shown through the story of Mittens (Susie Essman). 

Mittens is a black and white cat who Bolt runs into on his way to find Penny, and after some persuading (on both her and Bolt’s part), they strike a deal to work together. 

Mittens and Bolt / Bolt and his owner Penny / Picture Credit: Disney

Mittens and Bolt / Bolt and his owner Penny / Picture Credit: Disney

The feline always threatens to use her claws if she is disobeyed, but the sad truth is, her owners de-clawed her before they moved house without her, leaving her to wonder why she isn’t good enough. 

This is a genuinely sad plot line, as many animals do in fact go through this type of hurt. Many pets are left behind, but thankfully, Bolt shows what it means to adopt a rescue or abused animal, and proves that they are worth the love they miss so much. 

The star of the show, of course, is Bolt, who is always acting as though he’s on set for his show; but, scene after scene, and with Mittens’ help, he realises that his life is a lie, and his signature black ‘bolt’, isn’t from getting powers, but is simply painted on. 

A lot of the film’s comedic moments occur when Bolt tries to use his powers, but always to no avail. His ‘super bark’ never has the effect he wished it did, nor does his super jump, or anything else.

Rhino the Hamster and his hero, Bolt / Picture Credit: Disney

Rhino the Hamster and his hero, Bolt / Picture Credit: Disney

This leads Mittens to chuckle at him from the sidelines, but also reminds him that he’s a regular dog, but still unique.

Bolt is hit with different truths throughout the movie, some which rock him pretty hard, but his adventure to find Penny shows him so many wonderful things about being a dog that he has forgotten, or hasn’t had the chance to experience. 

For example, while Bolt and Mittens stop at a caravan park to beg for food, the pooch encounters another dog, but is unsure of what to do. Mittens, who becomes his guide to the wonderful things in life, shows him how to play in a beautiful scene of genuine friendship and love. 

That’s what Bolt does so well, it highlights all the best bits about pets, from their undying loyalty to their funny quirks; but, the feature never fails to create heartwarming moments that, despite the movie being about animals, are actually quite relatable. 

Bolt would do anything for Penny / Picture Credit: Disney

Bolt would do anything for Penny / Picture Credit: Disney

The feature brings joy as well as some not-too-deep but thought-provoking scenes that really make you appreciate those in your life, whether they have two feet or four paws; it is a genuinely powerful story with amazing moments mixed in. 

Among all the somewhat serious themes, Bolt is a feature filled with hilarious moments, such as when Bolt and Mittens meet Rhino (Mark Walton) the Hamster, a headstrong, somewhat cocky animal who loves nothing more than Bolt’s TV show. 

The three of them make a great team, as they all have different personalities that are highlighted in various moments, making them all lovable creatures. 

Bolt is the perfect film for a movie night with the little ones, or even just yourself. It shows courage, love, and adoration for pets, as well as the wonderful thing that is life.

Watch the trailer for Bolt below:

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Written by Melissa, who you can follow on Twitter @melissajournal

MORE: Kung Fu Panda revisited: A hilarious journey of hope and determination

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