Director: Hoyt Yeatman
Notable Cast: Bill Nighy, Will Arnett, Zach Galifianakis, Nicolas Cage (voice), Sam Rockwell (voice), Jon Favreau (voice), Tracy Morgan (voice), Penelope Cruz (voice), Steve Buscemi (voice)
Super producer Jerry Bruckheimer has lost his edge. This is the guy that gave us Beverly Hills Cop, Top Gun and Crimson Tide. But lately, instead of testosterone-driven action flicks, we either get PG-13 friendly family adventures (Pirates of the Caribbean and National Treasure) or chick-centric entertainment (Confessions of a Shopaholic). It’s a sad day when placating studio chiefs to guarantee widespread appeal outweighs the chance of seeing hero protagonists take the law into their own hands, curse when times are tough, and enjoy a smoke after triumphing over evil.
And while the thought of seeing Nicolas Cage, Sam Rockwell, Tracy Morgan, Penelope Cruz and Iron Man director Jon Favreau team up to take down a billionaire technological magnate sounds intriguing on paper, those hopes are dashed when you see it’s as a group of talking guinea pigs. It was bound to happen eventually; taking the Mission: Impossible formula and gearing it towards kids. Robert Rodriguez did the same with his Spy Kids franchise, but apparently those pint-size heroes weren’t small (or furry) enough.
Billed as the first live-action Disney movie to be produced in Disney Digital 3-D, G-Force is a childish action comedy, both in its concept and execution. It revolves around a team of superspy animals who have been trained in the art of espionage, surveillance, and martial arts. Ben (Zach Galifianakis), a low-rung FBI agent, assembled the team and created voice headsets to communicate with the guinea pigs. (Doctor Doolittle’s services were not considered, because of disparaging remarks made about government health care. So I’m told.) The Bureau has been investigating an evil billionaire named Leonard Saber (Bill Nighy) for two years. But the G-Force with the help of a computer programming mole named Speckles (Nicolas Cage) accomplishes what the FBI could not in a single night: infiltrate his hideout and procure secret information about a virus that will intentionally infect his line Saberline electronics. Each device contains a secret chip that will allow them to “communicate” with each other.
The Wibberleys (Cormac and Marianne), screenwriters behind I Spy, the Charlie’s Angels sequel and The Shaggy Dog remake among others, must have had some horror stories with new technology in the past – like not being able to find the appropriate microwave setting for cooking a guinea pig, or being unable to use a coffeemaker. The writing duo takes those frustrations and reverses it; now the appliances fight back after years of verbal abuse. Not really, but it sounds much more interesting than saying remote-controlled devices try to conquer Earth by “transforming” into giant robots. So by that notion we should fear cappuccino machines not Camaros.
That’s bringing levity to a potential cataclysmic situation. Because, let’s be honest, this story is hokey. Guinea pigs, the unlikeliest of heroes, step up to save us from killer microwave ovens for goodness sake. Part Mission: Impossible with a finale that sees killer appliances morph into metal monsters, there’s nary a shred of originality. Even the small twist at the end is foreseeable. The comedy is lame and includes potty humor geared to an audience that is well beyond toilet training. And some of the dialogue is a retread of action-hero phrases that have been slightly altered to avoid confusion.
“Dogs. Why did it have to be dogs?” (Indiana Jones and his snake phobia is not amused.)
“I feel the need for speed!” (As said by a guinea pig trying to be Mavericky.)
“Yippee Kay Yay, Coffeemaker!” (Screenwriters got paid to write that? For real?)
G-Force continues the trend of poorly designed live-action family films. It caters to kids of all ages, especially those who enjoy guinea pigs with flatulence issues or say phrases like “pimp my ride” and “hizzle.” The CGI creation of talking guinea pigs follows on the heels of talking chipmunks and Chihuahuas. Both of which set family films back a decade, at least. And the madcap action, though a staple of most Jerry Bruckheimer flicks, is non-stop, reminiscent of Race to Witch Mountain earlier this year. The only redeeming quality in this squad of guinea pig action heroes is Penelope Cruz as the voice of special agent Juarez. She has the two best lines of the flick, but two good lines in the span of 89 minutes is not a good ratio.
FINAL RATING (ON A SCALE OF 1-5 BUCKETS):
Tags: Bill Nighy, Disney, G-Force, Jerry Bruckheimer, Jon Favreau, Nicolas Cage, Penelope Cruz, Sam Rockwell, Will Arnett, Zach Galifinakis