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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan


It's up to a group of guinea pigs to save the world in G-Force.
If Michael Bay decided to make a family film, the result would probably be G-Force. That is not intended to be a compliment. This movie is loud, stupid, pointless, and obnoxious. It's also hypocritical; the story decries capitalism, yet the end credits remind us to buy the soundtrack CD and the video games (that's games, plural). You can no doubt also buy your kids G-Force toys, fast food meals, T-shirts, books, and who knows what else. However, my main gripe is just that the picture is bad. Once upon a time, the Disney name signified family entertainment that was a step or two above the garden-variety crapola everyone else was churning out. But with recent releases like Beverly Hills Chihuahua and this, I'm starting to think that Disney has turned into a gigantic crapola factory.

Zach Galifianakis (who was apparently still hung over from The Hangover when signing on to do this picture) plays Ben, a government researcher who has spent years training genetically-engineered guinea pigs to be secret agents. What, you may ask, can guinea pigs do to help the government? Well, Ben has them infiltrating the home of Saber (Bill Nighy), the billionaire owner of an electronics conglomerate who has plans to take over the world by having all his products rise up Transformers-style and do his bidding. A team of superspy guinea pigs taking on household appliances? This has to be the stupidest idea ever.

The team is led by Darwin (Sam Rockwell) and also includes Juarez (Penelope Cruz), Blaster (Tracy Morgan), and Speckles (Nicolas Cage). (This is one of those animated features where the big-name actors are clearly just reading lines and cashing a paycheck. They don't even try to deliver actual voice performances, as the stars of Shrek or any of the Pixar movies did.) When the government shuts Ben's operation down, Darwin and crew escape, only to end up in a pet shop where they meet another guinea pig called Hurley (Jon Favreau), who helps them escape so they can continue their mission with or without approval.

Honestly, I'm not sure why anyone wanted to make this film, because the whole thing is just lazy. The plot about Saber's world domination goes absolutely nowhere; it's merely a hook on which to hang a lot of dull action scenes. (The character even disappears from large chunks of the story.) There are chases, and moments where characters dangle from great heights, and plenty of explosions. None of it is noteworthy, save for the fact that all the characters are guinea pigs. That alone is not enough to make the action scenes exciting or compelling. Neither are the endless scenes of guinea pigs flying through the air in slow motion, their little arms and legs flailing helplessly.

The attempts at humor in G-Force are even worse. Did you know that guinea pigs fart? Well, the film sure does, and it reminds of that fact on a regular basis. Mike's Movie Rule #215: If a movie resorts to using farting animals as a source of comedy, it's because the writers are really desperate. Here's another example: Juarez is purchased at the pet store by a young girl, who takes her home, makes her listen to bad Jesse McCartney music, and puts her in makeup and costumes. Juarez catches her own reflection in the mirror and proclaims, "I look like Paris Hilton's Chihuahua!" If you think this is funny, then G-Force will be the best movie ever made in your eyes.

I am stunned to learn that the director is Hoyt Yeatman, a two-time Oscar winner in the special effects category. Why I am surprised? Because the special effects in G-Force are awful. I never believed the CGI critters were sharing space with the real humans. They also have a surprising lack of expressiveness, which makes them instantly forgettable. The best family films are full of imagination, wonder, and memorable characters. This one possesses none of those things.

When Disney released its live-action remake of 101 Dalmatians a number of years back, a curious thing happened: there was a sudden increase in pet adoptions of the breed, followed immediately by an upswing in cases of neglect. The theory was that kids, pumped up by the movie, badgered their parents into getting them a Dalmatian, then lost interest when something else came along. If G-Force is a hit, I predict that adults will dutifully buy guinea pigs for their children, who will then be crushed to discover that the animals actually do little more than eat and poop all day. Parents, you've been warned.

A final note: G-Force is being shown in both 2-D and digital 3-D formats. I saw it in 2-D, and that's the preferred format because it's one less dimension for the movie to suck in.

( out of four)

G-Force is rated PG for some mild action and rude humor. The running time is 1 hour and 25 minutes.

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