3 out of 5 stars
Director: Hoyt H. Yeatman, Jr.
Stars: Nicolas Cage, Zach Galifianakis, Penelope Cruz, Tracy Morgan, Jon Favreau, Steve Buscemi, Will Arnett
So it’s come to this: chattering guinea pigs. Hey, why not? Pretty much every other animal has been made to talk, walk and dance on screen, so why not these furballs? The concept of a group of rodent covert ops equipped with speech translators and armed with miniature military technology is destined to be a hit with five year-olds everywhere. Come to think of it, this movie was originally conceived by the then five year-old son of director Hoyt H. Yeatman, Jr (who is also an Oscar-winning visual effects artist). Talk about knowing your audience.
It would be easy to be cynical and dismiss G-Force as yet another cute ‘n’ cuddly kids movie with slick effects designed to pander to the family popcorn crowd. It is, but it’s got its moments. The set-up is simple: a secret, government-funded team of guinea pigs, along with mole, fly and roach team members, are trying to prove that a wealthy coffeemaker (Bill Nighy) has nefarious dreams of global domination through diabolically programmed appliances. But when a secret and unauthorized G-Force mission to produce evidence of his plan fails, and ruffles the feathers of a hardass government superior (the deadpan Will Arnett), the animal team members are banished to a pet store and its human gurus (The Hangover‘s Zach Galifianakis and Kelli Garner) removed from the project. Thus it is up to the little scamps to escape their imprisonment and prevent impending technological tyranny.
The humans in the movie do not have a lot to do, although Galifianakis does have a couple of nice moments with creatures he could not see during production. The true stars are the animated animals. The G-Force g-pigs are voiced by Sam Rockwell (the heroic team leader Darwin), Penelope Cruz (the sassy martial artist Juarez) and Tracy Morgan (hip weapons specialist Blaster), along with their nerdy mole counterpart Speckles (kudos to an unrecognizable Nicolas Cage) and their bumbling pet shop recruit Hurley (Jon Favreau). Despite traveling through a formulaic narrative, the actors deliver some good quips through their cuddly onscreen counterparts, and there is a positive message about treating animals well. Moviegoers will undoubtedly compare this movie’s bombastic climax to another rock ’em sock ’em blockbuster from this summer, but I’ll leave you to guess which one.
Part of the latest wave of 3-D movies, G-Force features guinea pig action sequences that utilize the process well — everything from getting caught on a water sprinkler to crashing through a window — although at times it can be a bit distracting since the whole story does not require it. But kids will enjoy it, and that’s the whole idea.
Ultimately the familiar but fun G-Force is a lighthearted family flick with some lively dialogue and impressive special effects. It fails to convince me, however, that roaches are cute, no matter how heroic they are.