We’ve seen creepy (Jokers), dorky (a corpulent Superman or two),and skimpy (the ladies at the Spirit booth) — but Disney Animation was on hand topony over the cute. Employing a rare less-talk-more-visuals ethic largelymissing from this year’s Comic-Con, the studio started by unveiling close to 20minutes of Nov. 26’s Bolt. Interestingly, the two directors, Chris Williamsand Byron Howard, made no mention of the film’s original helmer, ChrisSanders — or the fact that he left the project after locking horns with studio honchoJohn Lasseter. The duo unspooled footage in which we see this superpoweredcanine TV star (voiced by John Travolta) in all his absurd, Michael Bey-esquesplendor: flipping a villain’s car over by head-butting it; dangling thatvehicle over a bridge; and smashing through a concrete wall. The catch: Bolt,who contends that styrofoam is his kryptonite and cats are his nemeses, is obliviousto the fact that he has no powers in real life. And that’s where the buddy filmkicks in — with the dog recruiting a hyper (and possibly irritating) Hamster fanof his (Mark Walton) to spring some buddies from an animal shelter, in a giggly,hyperactive heist scene.
Bolt proved suitably entertaining…then immediately lackluster,once director Pete Docter (Monsters Inc.) came out and debuted a few scenesfrom Pixar’s Up (pictured). An effusive fan likened the picture to the work of the Japanesegreat Hayao Miyazaki (Castle in the Sky), and such a comparison would be heresywere it not sorta true, based even on the small chunk of footage shown. Here, a78-year-old widower gives the (metaphoric) finger to retirement-home reps — andfulfills his late wife’s itinerant dreams — by strapping a clown convention’sworth of balloons to his chimney and taking off for South America. As his houseglides through the sky, citizens look up in tacit wonder — and, indeed, it is hardnot to get swept up in this lovely, whimsical sequence. Later, we learn that aplucky 9-year-old Wilderness Explorer stowed away on the ride (the kid, you see,needs one just more Wilderness Explorer badge: assisting the elderly!). Ofcourse the pair make for a timeless Odd Couple, pulling the still-levitatinghouse along with them as they trek through the strange and majestic landscapein search of a waterfall. You’ll have to wait until May 29, 2009, to see Up; inthe meantime, feast your eyes on a wee teaser that Pixar has just posted atDisney.com/up.