G-Force: As Bad As You’d Think
Before we had kids, my wife and I would go to kids movies that interested us. The night we each took an hour off work to get to the Spongebob Squarepants movie was on of our he/she’s the one/he other one moments in our relationship.
After having kids, we obviously started to see more kids movies and shows, with less say in what we watch. Some have been better than we expected. Some are kind of addictive (my oldest daughter outgrew Paw Patrol and my youngest never got into the show, and I feel weirdly sad that there are Paw Patrol episodes on Netflix that I haven’t seen and likely never will). But some are exactly as bad or worse than they look. For example…
We have a pet guinea pig and Disney+. Disney+ has G-Force, the 2009 movie that’s Mission: Impossible, but guinea pigs. It was inevitable that we spend a family movie night watching it.
At least all I wasted was two hours. Imagine how Disney felt approving a $150 million dollar budget, $10 million more than the previous year’s Iron Man? Imagine being the producer who looked at a cast like Nicolas Cage, Sam Rockwell, Tracy Morgan, Penélope Cruz, Jon Favreau, Steve Buscemi, Zach Galifianakis, Bill Nighy, and Will Arnett and thinking “this is gonna be a hell of a talking animal action movie.”
Credit where it’s due: G-Force is a pretty good title. It’s definitely the highlight of the movie. From there, we get the opening scene, which features:
- A fly named Mooch being the first member of the all-gerbil spy team we meet, followed shortly by Nicolas Cage’s mole character Speckles;
- Nick Cage’s performance is such a generic nerd voice that there’s the stunt casting appeal is lost and any more affordable actor you can name could have done as good a job;
- Sam Rockwell’s Darwin seeing a fox-skin coat and saying “what the fox?” You’d think this was setting the tone for humour that sneaks in adult language for the benefit/discomfort of parents watching, but it’s the only joke like it in the whole movie;
- Penélope Cruz’s Juarez being every sexy female team member trope and yet feeling less like the filmmakers are mocking the trope and more like they want to have sex with a guinea pig;
- Zach Galifianakis as the human overseeing the guinea pig spies finding a way to play that so straight even the absurdity of this character’s life isn’t funny.
From there, the team fails their mission to prove Bill Nighy is a villain for adding wi-fi functionality to the household appliances he sells and the FBI decides there’s no value in the animal communication equipment Zach Galifianakis’ team has developed, shuts them down. So the team escapes by climbing into an empty cage lying around in the shipping dock, which gets delivered to a pet store.
At the pet store, Darwin initiates two plans:
- Get word of their whereabouts to Zach Galifianakis;
- Escape the pet store
Since both of these pans succeed, Zach Galifianakis shows up and finds none of his spies where they told him they’d be.
Before they escape, Darwin, a crested guinea pig, meets Jon Favreau’s Hurley (FBI Rookie), an Abyssinian guinea pig. These two guinea pigs of different breeds turn out to be brothers in the movie’s weirdest scene.
This scene takes place after the team reconnects with Zach Galifianakis and he tearfully confesses that he told G-Force they were genetically enhanced, but they weren’t. They’re regular guinea pigs. Why he lied, why he’s confessing now, and how anyone watching is supposed to feel about any of this is never clear.
By the way, Nic Cage’s mole character? He’s the communications expert. Because mole. He also fakes his death and turns out to be the villain. Because mole. There are a few actually good scenes foreshadowing and explaining that his family was removed from their home because moles aren’t one of the cute rodents. There’s an amazing moment at the end of a flashback where Nic Cage’s dad says to him “If you ever have a chance to get revenge on humans, take it!”
If the rest of the dialog had the same absurdly earnest tone, this could have been a fun movie. Instead, most of the dialog is generic action dialog delivered without irony. How generic? Early on, Tracy Morgan’s Blaster says “it’s showtime” before launching a mission. Towards the end, Nic Cage’s Speckles says “it’s showtime” before activating his doomsday device. There’s no indication that the latter is a callback to the former. Everyone involved in the production just seemed to miss that they used the same cliche twice.
Oh, and you see the plastic ball they’re riding in the poster? At one point they deploy a Fantasticar-type vehicle made of hamster balls. And I say hamster balls because the pet store we bought our guinea pigs at stressed multiple times that our pets will break their spines if we put them in a hamster ball because the two types of rodents are physiologically very different.
The saddest thing about G-Force is the clear divide in effort put into it. The special effects are great. The action scenes are well choreographed and shot clearly. It’s a good cast. But the writing is so laz-
Wait a sec. This came out in 2009! That was the year that movies with long production times (namely big action movies) would have been written in 2007/2008 but couldn’t be because of the writer’s strike. It’s the year where infamously weirdly written movies got produced because Hollywood couldn’t legally change their scripts: 2012; G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra; Terminator Salvation; Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen; X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Movies that would have been improved with a few script revisions they couldn’t get.
All this to say, please sign my petition for Hollywood to reboot G-Force. Thank you.