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G-force: Mindless, harmless fun

Posted: Thursday, July 30, 2009

'G-Force'

Jerry Bruckheimer Films

1 hour, 29 minutes

I'll say up front that this week's kiddie action flick is the kind of movie that I usually avoid. Talking rodents saving the world while spouting exceedingly quippy dialogue -- sounds like "Alvin and the Chipmunks" meets "Mission Impossible." How good could it possibly be?

But I have to chalk one up for the those sneaky marketing execs at Disney. Every time that ridiculous "G-Force" commercial came on TV, and it had to have run at least 750,000 times in the last six months, my year-and-a-half-old son, Kincaid, would snap to attention and point at the screen. Sigh, I guess I'm a sucker.

We arrived at the theater for the 2:30 show on Sunday and I was already starting to sweat my decision to bring the baby. I wasn't all that worried about the movie itself. On the whole, "G-Force" turned out just about like I expected: pretty dumb, though refreshingly free of crude or obscene humor, aside from the occasional fart joke. That was kind of rough for me, but my son could care less about the plot or the quality of comedy. No, I was worried because he'd skipped his nap and was now looking cranky. These are the things I'm slowly learning to deal with as a first-time parent. Well, if talking gerbils couldn't hold his attention, nothing could, I suppose.

The movie jumps right into the action, with the G-Force team, three guinea pigs, a house-fly, and a star-nosed mole, engaging in a dangerous mission to infiltrate the home of Leonard Saber, an ultra-mega corporate appliance tycoon whose coffee-makers and toasters inhabit just about every kitchen in the world. It seems a little picky to complain that the film makes almost no attempt to set up any real characters or give the audience any real backstory. It's antics, right off the bat. Kincaid, who seemed set to squirm and try to escape before the lights went out, settled in and was rapt for the first 45 minutes. Maybe the filmakers know what they're doing after all.

Our heroes, Darwin, Speckles, Juarez, and Blaster, accomplish their mission, but it's to no avail. The FBI, perhaps sensing the inherent stupidity in employing a team of fuzzballs with attitude, comes to shut the whole operation down. Through a series of wacky mishaps, the pint-sized agents find themselves in a petshop, where more zaniness ensues.

It was sometime after this that Kincaid began to be more interested in the people behind us than in the actual movie, a feeling I certainly sympathized with. We were only halfway done, however. We still needed to get these rodents back on the street in time to save the world from whatever nefarious plan the coffee-maker guy was up to.

With a movie like "G-Force," there's really no question that everything is going to turn out, and lo and behold, about the time Kincaid decided to lie down in the aisle, our furry little heroes save the day and live happily ever after, but not before fighting off a whole screenful of blatant "Transformers" rip-offs.

I'm not complaining, however. "G-Force" may be unoriginal and mindless, but at least it's not a $200 million piece of garbage. I actually enjoyed this film more than I thought I would, though not because it was particularly good -- it's not, but it's not that bad either, and the kids and their parents in the audience really seemed to be having a good time.

As far as technical stuff goes, the film looks great. Producer Jerry Bruckheimer must have spent some money on this, because not only are the effects top-notch, but there is a lot of action, including one crazy car chase that probably cost as much to film as a typical indie-movie all by itself. While the plot and script are pretty bad, the acting, as far as voice work goes, was OK. Sam Rockwell ratchets down his usual craziness to play the straight-man in team leader Darwin. Penelope Cruz and Tracy Morgan keep the comedy light as Juarez and Blaster, and Jon Favreau took a break from directing "Iron Man 2" to come and be the designated farting guinea pig as pet shop denizen, Hurley. Nicholas Cage was really the only surprise as he buries his normal voice in a nasally whine as the mole, Speckles. Everyone else, rodent and human alike, just played their characters as written with very little effort put in, but Cage actually seemed to be trying, which is more than I can say for his work in "Bangkok Dangerous."

In the end, it all worked out, for the rodents and for me and Kincaid. He pointed, laughed, and clapped when it was over. He didn't understand what was going on, but the other kids in the theater did, and they enjoyed it just as much, giving the family a nice hour-and-a-half diversion on a Sunday afternoon. That's all a movie like "G-Force" really needs to do, and despite the lack of a coherent script, I'd say it accomplished its mission.

Grade: B-

"G-Force" is rated PG for cartoony rodent action and mild rude humor. There is no foul language, no sexual innuendo, and surprisingly, no guns.

Chris Jenness is a freelance graphic designer, artist and movie buff who lives in Nikiski.



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