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Smith Opera House premieres “Bolt”

“Bolt” is a jolt of joy, a computer-animated delight that is delirious with laughs. It’s also canny enough to know that perilous suspense and even sad moments have a place in any good children’s story. As part of the annual “Winter Brrreak at The Smith” film series, it will be screened at 2 p.m. Feb. 19 and 22, at 7 p.m. on Feb. 21, and as part of a double feature with “The Tale of Despereaux” starting at noon on Wednesday, Feb. 18, at the Smith Opera House, 82 Seneca St.This Disney feature, executive-produced by Pixar genius John Lasseter, has all the hallmarks of his earlier classics: adorable characters, clever humor, thrilling action and heartfelt emotion. It’s the best Disney film since the glory days of “Beauty and the Beast.”Bolt (adorably voiced by John Travolta) is a gallant, lovable dog who is separated from his 12-year-old human, Penny (Miley Cyrus) and travels cross-country to rejoin her, accompanied by a cynical cat, Mittens (Susie Essman from HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm”), and Rhino, a hyper-enthusiastic hamster (Mark Walton) in a plastic rolling ball. The pampered pooch learns important lessons about love, humility and faith along the way.Bolt is a normal dog who has been raised on the set of a TV action series. Each week he and Penny battle the evil legions of Dr. Calico (Malcolm McDowell), who inevitably crumble before Bolt’s genetically engineered super strength, heat vision and sonic-boom bark. This setup kicks off the story with a stupendously exciting pursuit scene that’s far wittier and more engrossing than the visually dyslexic action scenes in most live action adventure films.What Bolt doesn’t realize is that his adventures are an elaborate special-effects charade. He’s filmed in secret by a realism-freak director (James Lipton from “Inside the Actor’s Studio”) convinced that Bolt will be believable in his heroic role only if he believes the fantasy himself. Penny would love to bring the dog home with her for a nice, normal weekend of chase-the-stick, but her Hollywood employers won’t hear of it.Bolt, convinced that the show’s fictional villains have Penny in their clutches, slips out of his cage and into the first real adventure of his life. Shipped to New York, he gets a taste of life on the mean streets, without the superpowers he has always relied on to get him out of a jam.The warm heart of “Bolt” is a coming-of-age story. The trip west is a wonderfully silly adventure as Bolt deals with the regret of shedding his illusions, but learns that just as himself he’s capable of heroic deeds. The dog’s expressions are heart-rending as well as hilarious, and Travolta’s vocal performance is utterly winning.”Bolt” artfully blends exciting action with a comical road-trip saga and imbues it with a dogged sweetness. Funny and heartwarming, it is bound to charm audiences of all ages. It is rated PG and has a running time of 96 minutes. Tickets are $3 for all seats; $5 for the double feature. Call 315-781-LIVE (5483) or toll-free 1-866-355-LIVE (5483) for details or to order tickets. Tickets may also be purchased online at www.TheSmith.org.The Smith Opera House is owned and operated by the Finger Lakes Regional Arts Council, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization supported, in part, with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, the City of Geneva, the Town of Geneva and by contributions from individual supporters.

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