Review in a Hurry: A deluded dog who isn't really a superhero—but plays one on TV—embarks on a cross-country search for his missing master. Charming and frequently exciting.
The Bigger Picture: Pugnacious and loyal dog Bolt (voiced by John Travolta) can run at hyperspeed, shoot lasers from his eyes, and deploy a wave of destruction with his "superbark"—or so he thinks. Bolt lives on a Los Angeles sound stage constructed for his benefit to make him a more convincing animal actor; he spends every day in what seems like an 8-year-old's version of The Truman Show, saving his human friend Penny (Miley Cyrus) from nefarious, well-armed terrorists.
Things go awry when Bolt is inadvertently shipped to New York and left to fend for himself, frustrated to discover that his superpowers don't work and desperate to get back to Penny. With the aid of a cynical cat and a fanatical hamster, he learns to navigate the real world.
Bolt's commitment to his fantasy world gets played for dry, smart laughs, giving the movie just enough giggle to amuse the adults who've seen this story before. And it doesn't hurt that it's pretty to look at, though the animals are much more smoothly animated than the humans. It's hard to ask for more from a family film than you get from Bolt: a funny idea executed with aplomb, only one agonizingly cloying musical montage, and a story that's compact enough to not overstay its welcome. Anything more might give you the yips.
The 180—a Second Opinion:: The opening action sequence is so gloriously, ridiculously over-the-top that the rest of the film feels like a letdown from a technical perspective. Superman movies should be this good.