- Directed by Hoyt Yeatman
- Written by Cormac Wibberley and Marianne Wibberley
- Featuring the voices of Nicolas Cage, Sam Rockwell, Jon Favreau, Penelope Cruz, Tracy Morgan and Steve Buscemi, and starring Bill Nighy, Will Arnett and Loudon Wainwright III
- Classification: PG
Perhaps you've heard how food engineers combine fats, sugars and salts to break into the brain's reward bank, creating a feedback loop that fuels repeated fast-food binging. Well, now like-minded film producers are going after 5- to 10-year-old boys with an equally irresistible (to this demographic) entertainment compound.
G-Force , the latest from Disney, has gadgetry galore, blasting weapons, martial arts, feces jokes and an assortment of cutie-pie rodents - hamsters, guinea pigs, moles. It's an action-comedy. It's in 3-D. There's a video-game tie-in. Throw in a fluorescent Slushie from the candy counter and your eight-year-old will be in heaven.
The force in G-Force consists of trained secret-agent animals and insects. The paws of guinea pigs Darwin (voiced by Sam Rockwell), Juarez (Penelope Cruz) and Blaster (Tracy Morgan) are registered weapons. Nicolas Cage is typecast as Speckles the spy, a star-nosed mole with an evident head cold. And there's a fly, Mooch (Dee Bradley Baker), buzzing around doing surveillance.
What the heck is G-Force up to? The U.S. government has hired it to spy on an evil billionaire (Bill Nighy). One of the few live actors in the kids' comedy, Nighy plays Bill Saber, an industrialist who hopes to destroy the world with household appliances. There are subversive chips in every one of his toasters, coffeemakers and phones that will, on Saber's command, turn them into mini-Terminators bent on global destruction.
But before the G-Force can rattle Saber, the government shuts the unit down, relocating the agents to a pet-shop cage where they meet up with an incontinent hamster (Jon Favreau). You're right, that's where the you-know-what jokes kick in, and where Darwin and Juarez begin performing a familiar preteen courtship ritual - ignoring each other in hopes of creating romantic tension. (No, it doesn't work in the film either.)
G-Force has a few bright spots. Will Arnett ( Arrested Development ), who plays slime balls to perfection, shines intermittently as an FBI meanie. And the 3-D film does enough swooping and swirling to keep small fry feeling as if they're leaves in a whirlwind. Which reminds us: One Slushie per kid is probably a sound health precaution.
Still, we're talking about a Jerry Bruckheimer-produced movie about superhero rodents - Hammy the Hamster on steroids. And the action-comedy isn't funny at all. A typical groaner has one of the guinea pigs racing from trouble, yelling out, "I can't get these guys off my tail." To which his co-pilot deadpans, "We don't have tails."
No, taking your kid to films like G-Force isn't a fun outing, not for you anyway. It's more like a parental responsibility; on an adult fun meter, it would rate somewhere between a parent-teacher meeting and a trip to the orthodontist to outfit your kid with braces.
Mind you, given that the film is in 3-D, G-Force comes with a built-in escape hatch. Those dark, Roy Orbison-style glasses allow you to opt out at any time. No one will know if you close your eyes and drift off into a nap. Don't worry - your kid will wake you when it's over.
Special to The Globe and Mail