I'll admit that I'm no fan of Miley Cyrus, yet another bland pop phenom the tweenies go crazy for. The fact that her music carries a somewhat moralistic message, instead of hyping randy sex like numerous pop tarts in recent years, doesn't score her any points with me. You could get a cavity from listening to "I Thought I Lost You," her end-credits duet with John Travolta, so sickeningly sweet is it. But her voice work here as Penny is surprisingly good; it's really good, actually. As far as personality goes, she can't top Essman's sassy Mittens or Walton's lovably manic Rhino, but she makes Penny into a real, honest-to-goodness girl who loves her dog. She's grounded and down-to-earth, which is a big step up from the forced punchlines of Hannah Montana. We can only hope she finds live-action roles as fitting as this.
Bolt is a crowd-pleaser, and while it can't touch the Disney-affiliated Pixar's stunning output (including its latest, this year's fantastic WALL·E), it's one of the best family movies in a while. The fact that it's the first truly enjoyable Disney cartoon in years just makes it a little sweeter.