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Dustin Putman

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G-Force  (2009)
Directed by Hoyt Yeatman Jr.
Cast: Zach Galifianakis, Will Arnett, Kelli Garner, Billy Nighy, Tyler Patrick Jones, Piper Mackenzie Harris, Gabriel Casseus, Jack Conley, Niecy Nash, Justin Mentell, Loudon Wainwright III; voices of Sam Rockwell, Penelope Cruz, Tracy Morgan, Nicolas Cage, Jon Favreau, Steve Buscemi, Tracy Morgan.
2009 – 90 minutes
Rated: Rated PG (for some mild action and rude humor).
Reviewed by Dustin Putman, July 23, 2009.
"G-Force" is opening in theaters exactly one day shy of the tenth anniversary of 1999's "Inspector Gadget," the tragically awful live-action adaptation of the popular 1980s cartoon series. The timing is fortuitous considering "G-Force" is the worst release from Walt Disney Pictures since that decade-old misfire. To describe this chaotic, charmless, pop culture-centric product as completely and utterly excruciating is almost too kind a criticism to bestow upon what amounts to a kid-friendly version of "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen." By "kid-friendly," I simply mean made with children in mind, most preferably those already in need of a full lobotomy. Hoyt Yeatman Jr., an Academy Award-winning visual effects supervisor making what amounts to his directorial debut, would be best to stick to what he knows in the future (and what he knows certainly has nothing to do with helming a motion picture). Which is worse: eating a plateful of rodent droppings or sitting through the soul-devouring vacuum of "G-Force" a second time? It's a toss-up. Both prospects could put a person's gag reflex into overdrive.

The hazy flurry of scenes, each one thoroughly uninteresting, form something of a plot. Mole Speckles (voiced by Nicolas Cage) and guinea pigs Darwin (voiced by Sam Rockwell), Blaster (Tracy Morgan) and Juarez (Penelope Cruz) are covert secret agents specially trained by human G-Force creator Ben (Zach Galifianakis). When the government puts the kibosh on their latest mission—overtoppling billionaire megalomaniac Leonard Saber, who wants to rule the world by way of evil household appliances—they are promptly shipped off to a pet store. With the fate of the world resting on their furry backs, it is up to Ben and assistant Marcie (Kelli Garner) to find a way to rally the group back together.

For anyone who has a high threshold for pain and misery, watch "G-Force" and then consider that the screenplay was written by five people: Tim Firth (2009's "Confessions of a Shopaholic") and Cormac Wibberley, Marianne Wibberley, Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio (the latter four script and story writers of 2007's "National Treasure: Book of Secrets"). Now here is the question: what did this quintet do to earn their probably hefty paychecks? They created no human characters worth more than their moving mouths, turning talented comedians like Zach Galifianakis (2009's "The Hangover") and Will Arnett (2008's "The Rocker") into straight-faced zombies, pretty Kelli Garner (2005's "Man of the House") into a virtual extra who nonetheless appears in numerous scenes, and Bill Nighy (2009's "Underworld: Rise of the Lycans") into a villain who is supposed to be threatening, but mostly stands around and looks feeble. The two kids on display are obnoxious pet abusers. The talking animals are, by and large, bores. Blaster, like Skids and Mudflap in "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen," is an unnecessary African-American stereotype who says things like, "That was off the hizzook!"

Why stop there? The plot is so thin and pedestrian it could make a sheet of paper feel pudgy by comparison. The writing is smarmy, insufferable in its failed attempts to be hip, and so concerned with tossing off pop-cultural references that it forgets to have any sort of soul. Instead of growing to care about the rodents or people involved, we get no sense of who they are and why we should care. The movie's idea of clever comedy is to include no less than three farting scenes, a Paris Hilton mention, a spoof of the song, "Don't Cha," by The Pussycat Dolls, allusions to "Indiana Jones" and "Die Hard" (one character exclaims, "Yippee-Ki-Yay, coffee maker!"), a mention of "Pimp My Ride," etc. It is all groan-inducing, lame, and already feels out-of-date. Worst of all, none of it is funny. Finally, the climactic action sequence where the houseware equipment comes to life amounts to a lot of clinking metal flying around the screen with no understanding of where to place the camera, edit the footage, or build anything resembling excitement. The only thing worse than "Transformers" is a movie that shamelessly rips "Transformers" off.

Each year, there are quality family films released that the whole family can enjoy. Movies that very well will stand the test of time. Movies with heart and sweetness and imagination and genuine laughs. "G-Force" has none of the above. It is as emotionally fake and plastic as a window display mannequin, a flash-in-the-pan piece of trash that assumes talking animals, no matter what they are doing or saying, will sell themselves at the box-office. Sadly, producer Jerry Bruckheimer may be right in this assumption, though that doesn't particularly mean anyone who pays ten bucks to see it is going to leave satisfied. Were it not for the peppy, likable voicing of Penelope Cruz (2008's "Vicky Cristina Barcelona") as man-teasing Juarez, the film would be totally irredeemable. As is, it's still pretty damn worthless. "G-Force" is so vacuous on every level that it might as well not exist at all.
© 2009 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman