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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

G-Force

Posted By on Wed, Jul 29, 2009 at 12:00 AM

To illustrate the disconnect between those who crave a movie about secret agent guinea pigs and those who drive them to the theater, buy the popcorn and remind them to use the toilet before showtime, consider my 7-year-old son's response to the studio rep who asked our opinion of G-Force:

"I would give it an A+. And I want the DVD when it comes out."

My reaction was less enthusiastic — but discerning cinephiles aren't the intended audience here. And, strange as it sounds, my main complaint is that G-Force just isn't wacky or fleet-footed enough to deliver on its gleefully idiotic premise. In fact, the five writers credited with overscripting this sporadically engaging but dumber-than-dirt kiddie actioner nearly suffocate the story in dull dramatic arcs, endless exposition and no-fun, overcomplicated spy thriller tropes.

Take the guinea pig's opening 10-minute covert operation. Instead of sending up the genre with a clever wink and a nod, they bog things down with incidents and exchanges that'd fit in any Mission Impossible knock-off. The writers think the rodent-cum-superspy conceit is joke enough, that no more thought need be given to parody, homage or character. Even Cats vs. Dogs, for all its stupidity, invested more ingenuity in its humor. Here, the wit extends to fart and poop jokes.   

Worse, the action is simply serviceable. Yeah, the 3-D CGI effects are top-notch but compare it with the bravura opening chase scene in Bolt, and you can't help but be underwhelmed. You know something's wrong when a spy flick's gadget porn is disappointing.

The voice acting is impressive though. Sam Rockwell, Penélope Cruz, Tracy Morgan, Steve Buscemi, Jon Favreau and a deliriously silly Nicolas Cage bring their A-game. Their human counterparts fare far worse, with Zach Galifianakis and Will Arnett made inexcusably boring and Kelli Garner pared down to a near-wordless nub.

After discovering the merchandising joys of Pirates of the Caribbean, Jerry Bruckheimer must be licking his chops at the prospect of picking the pockets of an even younger audience. The least he could have done was demand a script that acknowledges their presence in the theater.

Jeff Meyers writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to letters@metrotimes.com.

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