Dir. Hoyt Yeatman. US. 2009. 88 mins.
Jerry Bruckheimer makes a play for the under-10s with G-Force – about the only demographic he hasn’t yet completely conquered – in another venture with Walt Disney, which knows this market best.
It’s a scaled-down-for-tots action adventure, framed somewhat gratuitously in 3D from a screenplay generated by the National Treasure team about a SWAT-like force of CG guinea pigs. And a mole. And a few cockroaches. A quick caveat: while kids may squeal in delight, gangs of realistically-rendered 3D cockroaches are not necessarily something parents want to pay to see.
It’s a shame that the heart of the story doesn’t beat strongly enough to match the visual invention onscreen.
After the fresh breeze that lifted Up and Ice Age 3, G-Force feels like a more calculated, cynical effort. An all-star voice cast – led by Nicolas Cage and Sam Rockwell – has been drafted in to portray the remarkably-lifelike pigs, while the film comes replete with the type of knowing humour which supposedly appeals to parents (“don’t drop a pellet” says one guinea pig, while the other marvels at the villain’s “$6,000-suit, $50,000 watch, and….size 36 Hanes tighty-whiteys.”).
G-Force wears its inspiration on its sleeve (Transformers, Babe, Toy Story, box office), but the marketing power of Bruckheimer/Disney can never be discounted and there’s certainly a gap in the market as Ice Age cools off which G-Force could partially fill. Whether it will do better business for pet shops than Disney remains to be seen; a film franchise seems unlikely, but a TV series could be ideal.
Making a feature debut from his own original story, former effects supervisor Hoyt Yeatman has produced animals to marvel at – they really are incredibly realistic – but his grasp on a paced adventure is less assured and interaction between the humans onscreen and the pigs fails to connect in a Stuart Little way. These animals talk a lot, wafting around in great wodges of knowing dialogue, but the plot is slow to come together with any force.
The G-Force itself is a crack, highly-accessorised team of special agent pigs – Darwin, Blaster and Juarez, assisted by Mooch the fly and a mole called Speckles – which has been assembled by sympathetic scientist Ben (The Hangover’s Galifianakis).
Darwin (voiced by Rockwell, bland) is the team’s leader; Blaster is the jive-talking weapons specialist (30 Rock’s Morgan, amusing and distinctive), while Juarez (Cruz) presumably is there for girls and the Latino demographic. Cage turns in a memorable and different voice performance as blind mole Speckles.
The team’s mission is to put a stop to billionaire engineer Saber (Nighy) who has linked all his devices, from coffee makers to fridges, with a chip which he wants to put to nefarious use for world domination. But the FBI, led by Arnett, is intent on shutting G-Force down before they have a chance to prove themselves.
An interlude in a pet shop provides two more characters, Hurley (Favreau) and Bucky the hamster (Buscemi), and, after an off-puttingly fractured and talky start the movie gradually warms up into an action adventure with plenty of fireworks and a monster microwave which looks like it wandered in off the Transformers set.
Mercifully brief, at 88 minutes, G-Force seems to expend all its creativity on the animals; it’s a shame, really, that the heart of the story doesn’t beat strongly enough to match the visual invention onscreen.
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Jerry Bruckheimer Films
Walt Disney Pictures
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Marianne and Cormac Webberley, based on a story by Hoyt Yeatman
Visual effects supervisor
Main cast (voice)