Expect your kids to want a guinea pig after seeing “G-Force,” Disney’s latest 3D live-action/animated save-the-world flick starring a trio of rodents playing commandos who drive, talk, swim and fight man and dog. While somewhat endearing, these fur balls stop short of having the same pluck and charm as their intrepid hamster cousin, Rhino, from another Disney film, “Bolt.”
Expect your kids to want a guinea pig after seeing “G-Force,” Disney’s latest 3D live-action/animated save-the-world flick starring a trio of rodents playing commandos who drive, talk, swim and fight man and dog.
While somewhat endearing, these fur balls stop short of having the same pluck and charm as their intrepid hamster cousin, Rhino, from another Disney film, “Bolt.”
In that movie, you got over being in love with a rodent. In “G-Force,” you don’t.
The main problem is that first-time director Hoyt H. Yeatman Jr. and producer Jerry Bruckheimer have picked inherently dull critters that just don’t translate well to the screen, even in computer-animated form.
The guinea pigs, agents Juarez (voiced by Penelope Cruz), Darwin (Sam Rockwell) and Blaster (Tracy Morgan), are part of an animal intelligence unit run by Ben (a bored Zach Galifianakis from “The Hangover”). When FBI agent Kip Killian (Will Arnett appearing in human form) threatens to shut down the unit, Ben mobilizes his troops to score the sought-after intel on Saber, (an evil Bill Nighy), a home-appliance king who is believed to be plotting global extermination.
When the three fur balls, a mole and a fly named Mooch infiltrate Saber’s headquarters to get the goods; they thwart the FBI’s two-year effort and put themselves out of business and end up for sale in a pet store. Now they have to breakout and make things right, but with the added burden of an untrained, overweight guinea pig named Hurley (“Iron Man” director Jon Favreau), who just wants to be loved.
Despite a pair of Oscar-winning actors (Cruz and Cage), the voices are nothing special. Cruz’s thick accent is hard to decipher and Morgan turns his Blaster into a jive-talking caricature who ends sentences with “holla.” Cage is nearly unrecognizable as Speckles, the computer-gifted mole. Rockwell as Darwin, the leader of the G-force, (G is for guinea, duh!) is the most believable and likable.
Rounding out the cast is Steve Buscemi as Bucky, a pet-store hamster.
The recycled jokes are as head-scratching as the casting. The classic line from “Apocalypse Now,” (“I love the smell of napalm in the morning”) went right over the heads of the young audience I saw the movie with.
What brought the big laughs were poop jokes, lighting farts on fire and animal hijinks such as Blaster making an Evel Knievel-style jump in a remote-control SUV while shouting “Yippeekayee.” (Note to Bruckheimer: Expect a call from the “Die Hard” lawyers in the morning.)
As for the 3D, it’s mostly distracting, and does nothing to enhance the film. There is no lush landscape or dramatic vistas.
It’s also jarring to have the illusion of debris blowing past your face. But then, what would you expect from Bruckheimer and Yeatman, the team that also collaborated on “Armageddon” and “The Rock”? Clearly, these guys love to blow stuff up.
Yeatman, making the jump from special effects maven (he won Oscars for “Mighty Joe Young” and “The Abyss”) to director, mostly squanders the chance to do something strong and innovative.
And the screenplay, written by Cormac and Marianne Wibberley (“National Treasure”), furthers his downfall. It starts out light, turns dark, then turns into “Transformers” when Saber’s appliances morph into evil killing machines.
But that’s par for the course for Bruckheimer, who firmly believes that when the plot starts to fall apart, you simply blow stuff up.
It’s hard to argue with that philosophy given his track record. But it sure feels out of place in a Disney flick espousing love, family and a belief in yourself.
Reach Patriot Ledger writer Dana Barbuto at email@example.com.