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Rodents on the rampage

by Mark Burger

BUT THEY’RE CUTE AND THEY’RE ON OUR SIDE

Disney’s G-Force, , which marks the feature directorial debut of vis ual effects artist Hoyt H. Yeatman Jr., is not in the same by Mark Burger contributing columnist league with the studio’s classics, even those of recent vintage (including this summer’s Up, , which pretty much rates as the best film of the year so far), but it stacks up as an amusing diversion for the family audience. With producer Jerry Bruckheimer’s name prominent in the credits, this high-concept comedy about a group of highlyskilled guinea pigs that carry out dangerous government missions is certainly enjoyable on its own, modest terms. And, given Bruckheimer’s reputation, presentation is everything. The G-Force’s most recent assignment has been to investigate a wealthy industrialist (Bill Nighy), whose plans for a hi-tech satellite convergence could have devastating consequences for the world’s appliances and, as a result, the world at large. But when the mission goes unexpectedly awry, the members of G-Force are forced to flee — or scurry, if you prefer — when the Feds, led by an expectedly smarmy Will Arnett, shut their operation down. Regrouping at a neighborhood pet store, where they now find themselves for sale, the G-Force must regroup, and redouble their efforts, lest everyday household appliances become lethal weapons. The film’s humor isn’t so much derived from funny lines than from the enthusiasm with which the voice cast imbues their furry and fuzzy characterizations, particularly Steve Buscemi as a misanthropic hamster and Nicolas Cage, lending some real nasal energy to the role of “the Mole.” The film’s human contingent also includes Zach Galifianakis and Kelli Garner, as the nice agents in charge of G-Force, but there’s never any doubt who — or what — this film is about: the guinea pigs. It’s not called G-Force for nothing. Storywise, there are few surprises — which is to be expected when you take into account that the screenplay was written by, amongst others, the Wibberleys, the husbandand-wife team of Cormac and Marianne Wibberley, whose previous work includes I Spy (2003) and the National Treasure films, and whose specialty is slick, sleek, high-concept fare. Nevertheless, with a Bruckheimer budget (and all the bells and whistles that that entails), G-Force does deliver on that high concept with a barrage of superb visual effects (in eye-popping 3-D, no less) and a fast pacing that, occasionally, recalls the much-beloved Warner Bros. “Looney Toons” of yesteryear. It is clearly geared toward the kids, who will probably love it (and may want a guinea pig of their own by the time it’s over), but grown-ups looking for a breezy diversion won’t be found wanting, either.

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