Blu-ray Review: G-Force (2009)

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As Jerry Bruckheimer explains,
"movies about secret agents have been on screen long before James Bond, and movies in which animals speak and have personalities have also been with us for quite some time. What we've never seen, however, is a movie about secret agents who also happen to be animals-- what's more in a combination of live action, animation and Digital 3D."

Well, I tell you, I'm glad that at least somebody is excited by the prospect of as the Walt Disney Pictures release describes a film and bonus features made for audiences "that will satisfy their quest to join the rodent spy world."

Honestly, after watching G-Force, not only am I going to do everything in my power to avoid the rodent spy world but I'd say it's about time to put a moratorium on strange genre hybrids involving rodents.

Admittedly, it was odd to see a rat become a chef in a kitchen in another studio offering but in Pixar's hands, Ratatouille worked the same way that the unlikely prospect of a movie about a Barbra Streisand musical obsessed trash compactor who lives alone in the future worked in Wall-E.

Yet, the one problem that G-Force-- like several other Bruckheimer productions face-- is the fact that just because you can throw everything together, it doesn't necessarily mean that you should. As evidenced in this slam-bang, hyper, unlikable mess, sometimes the results are worse than a disastrous dish cooked up in a kitchen by a rodent.

Despite this, the idea of a secret agent who is also technically a rat works on the page, especially because of the potential for punchlines that just because they're a rat, it doesn't mean they will rat along with the fact that they could conceivably maneuver in and out of buildings since most individuals will run in the other direction when they spot one. Still, to up the cuteness factor since it's Disney after all, the rodents of choice for this feature are not rats but instead a group of guinea pigs not unlike the kind kids bring home as class pets.

Fortunately, the class pet incident that sparked the imagination of the Oscar winning visual effects wizard turned filmmaker Hoyt H. Yeatman, Jr. evolved from the mind of his son and not from the real-life incident that happened to this critic wherein I brought home the class pet pig and it tragically died.

Needless to say, it's to its advantage that Bruckheimer's frequent collaborating screenwriters-- The Wibberleys-- avoid my Old Yeller situation completely for their plot. Instead, the contributors to Bad Boys 2, the National Treasure franchise, Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle and I-Spy basically use Bruckheimer's grown-up action movies The Rock and Con Air as the basis for a film that never seems sure just exactly whom the target audience is supposed to be.

Throughout, it moves uneasily from a complex spy plot introduction to double entendre filled humor in a way that fails to come together for audiences of all ages. Kindergarten to early grade school children will find themselves lost by the plot despite relating to the idea that their class pet could be the rodent version of James Bond. Moreover, they'll be unable to adapt to the mean-spirited humor involving kids who either torture or mistreat pets like the neighbor does to Woody and Buzz in Toy Story. At the same time, audience members closer to the PG-13 rating will be less than interested in watching a talking animal spy movie when they can watch a live action spy movie instead.

Using the basic unlikely heroes on a mission paradigm of Bruckheimer's earlier films and actually recycling taglines from movies of the past, the screenplay is all over the map as it blends their work on Charlie's Angels with an endless amount of other movies to try to cover as many bases as possible in Bruckheimer's more plus more plus more equals "even more" Hollywood Megabucks formula.

Unfortunately, it fails despite a terrific supporting cast of both live action and voice actors who truly earn their salaries including Oscar winners Penelope Cruz (Volver, Vicky Cristina Barcelona), Nicolas Cage (using an odd Mel Blanc inspired voice for his sixth collaboration with Bruckheimer), along with audience favorites like Jon Favreau, Sam Rockwell (Moon), Tracey Morgan (TV's 30 Rock), Will Arnett (TV's Arrested Development), Bill Nighy (Love Actually), Steve Buscemi (Con Air) and Hangover plus Up in the Air star Zack Galifianakis.

Originally presented in 3D and digital projection, employing Sony technology in its theatrical premiere as a summer popcorn movie, the film arrives as part of Walt Disney's popular combo packs including the film in Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Copy solely in a purely 2D format. While it's nice to have the same movie three times especially if you like it, when the film had been originally made for 3D it's slightly disappointing for it not to arrive in the same format. Although Pixar's Up hit discs in 2D, it didn't matter because it had so much going for it. Sadly, the same cannot be said for G-Force as one assumes that perhaps the distraction of the visuals by first time director and veteran effects man Yeatman may have made this film a bit easier to bear.

However, as it's presented and despite the superlative Disney Blu-ray technology which has served them well in numerous extraordinary Combo Packs of vastly superior efforts such as Up, Monster's Inc., Pinocchio, and Snow White here in 2009, the rapid chaos of the second long cuts makes The Bourne Ultimatum look like a decaffeinated cup of your grandmother's favorite tea by comparison to G-Force. Bruckheimer's hybrid whips by faster, louder, and more urgently than one of his live action movies on fast-forward or a hot new video game, making one think that it should come with a warning that dizziness and/or headaches could occur.

In a year of wonderful family releases and so many from the Walt Disney Company, G-Force is one of the lowest points as I can't even recommend it as a worthwhile rental other than to say that the beautiful shiny box is the most memorable and eye-catching thing about it. However, despite the fact that this Disney disc is a resounding thud, the company will undoubtedly and as always bounce right back with another great effort... yet hopefully it will be one that doesn't need to resort to Bruckheimer's haphazard love of wild hybrids that make you want to call pest control instead of bring these particular pets home for the holidays.

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FTC Disclosure: Per standard critical practice, I received a review copy of this film to review and as evidenced, receipt of the title had no impact whatsoever on my article.