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3-D G-Force Proves Strictly One-Dimensional

  • Christian Hamaker Contributing Writer
  • Updated May 27, 2010
3-D <i>G-Force</i> Proves Strictly One-Dimensional

DVD Release Date:  December 15, 2009
Theatrical Release Date:  July 24, 2009
Rating:  PG (for some mild action and rude humor)
Genre:  Comedy, Action/Adventure, Animation
Run Time:  89 min.
Director:  Hoyt Yeatman
Actors:  Zach Galifianakis, Bill Nighy, Will Arnett, Kelli Garner and the voices of Nicolas Cage, Penelope Cruz, Sam Rockwell, John Favreau, Steve Buscemi and Tracy Morgan

As far as animated movies about rodents go, G-Force is no Ratatouille. Both films have been distributed by Disney, although Ratatouille was blessed to be a Pixar creation, while G-Force is the creation of hit-and-miss action maestro Jerry Bruckheimer. The difference in Pixar's genius and the treading-water mentality of this Disney product has never been starker.

Is it enough to describe the plot—a team of trained guinea pigs tries to thwart the plans of a scheming scientist to have appliances take over the world? What if I told you that a cast of rodents voiced by Sam Rockwell (Moon), Tracy Morgan (30 Rock) and Penelope Cruz (Vicky Cristina Barcelona) are less interesting than the human characters in this live-action/CGI hybrid? That's right—Bill Nighy (Davy Jones in the Pirates of the Caribbean films) as an evil industrialist named Saber, Will Arnett (hilarious in Arrested Development) as a frustrated FBI agent and Zach Galifianakis, the breakout star of this summer's hit comedy, The Hangover, play one-note characters that are nevertheless more interesting than the rodent stars, despite the obvious limitations forced upon the human actors.

Galifianakis shows surprising charm as Ben, the cuddly head of an ineffective program to enlist animals in espionage, but he's given little to do other than to smile and protect his team. The program is in danger of being shut down by federal agent Kip Killian (Arnett) until the team, in a Mission: Impossible-style team operation, infiltrates a gathering and uncovers a plot that involves global extermination by way of "Cluster Storm," an operation in which appliances will rise up and defeat humankind.

Ben's program gets nixed when the rodents can't produce sufficient evidence of the plot, and the G-Force team—including several guinea pigs and a mole—gets shipped to a pet store. The mole gets separated from the guinea pigs, who find their way back to Ben and make one last stand to prevent Saber's plot.

There is very little in G-Force that might be deemed morally offensive, and that in itself may be reason enough for families and younger children to see the film. (It's not squeaky clean, but it's close; the film is rated PG for "some mild action and rude humor.") But lack of objectionable content is not enough to compel viewers to sit through this worn-out story, with its connect-the-dots character arcs, attempts at humor that miss much more often than they hit, and a "believe in yourself" theme that feels almost entirely inorganic to the paper-thin plot from which it grows. The film's finale, in which several appliances grow into a mechanical beast, is visually impressive, but it's also a bit overwhelming; it reduced some young children in the preview audience to tears. Compare that to the themes of cooperation and individual giftedness in Ratatouille, and how that film, in its warm conclusion, redeems even its grimmest character, Anton Ego. It's the difference between a film with heart, and a soulless creation like G-Force.

It's sad, really, that Disney, once a champion of family films that were innovative and broadly appealing to entire families, has been reduced to the perfunctory storytelling and run-of-the-mill scripts like the one for G-Force, written by a team of five: Corman and Marianne Wibberley—the screenwriting team behind Disney's National Treasure 2—with assistance from three additional writers. And what did they produce? Comic lines like, "Get your butt out of my face," and, "Fifty billion rodents in the world and I get stuck with this guy." But comic timing is difficult when the entire film has such a poor sense of narrative rhythm.

The film is jazzed up only by a 3-D presentation, but even those moments deliver few eye-popping delights. It doesn't take special glasses to realize that nearly every other element of G-Force is strictly one-dimensional.

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  • Language/Profanity:  No profanity; one casual use of "thank God"; some jokes about breaking wind and uncontrollable bowel movements; a rodent exclaims, "Holy foxes!"; rodents are called "idiots"; "butt"; "suck"; a guinea pig excitedly uses the phrase "pimp my ride" and refers to a "big momma with the baby disease."
  • Smoking/Drinking:  None.
  • Sex/Nudity:  None, just some flirting with and competition over a female guinea pig.
  • Violence/Crime:  A diabolical plot that involves global extermination; threat of "a knuckle sandwich"; a man throws a rodent in a pet store into a container next to a snake; a mole ends up in a trash compactor and is feared dead; hamster rides a jet of water from a sprinkler and has a hard landing; car chases and car wrecks; huge explosions.