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Published: Friday, 7/24/2009

Movie review: G-Force **


For parents despairing of ever tearing Cats and Dogs and Beverly Hills Chihuahua out of the family DVD player, Disney gives us G-Force, a comedy about talking pet-shop dropouts trained as government agents.

Thanks, Disney. And it s in 3D, too, with its higher ticket price. Thanks again!

Kids love animal hijinks comedies, so this was a no-brainer, bottom-line-wise. But the digital hijinks aren t great. And despite a committed voice cast that includes two Oscar winners (Nicolas Cage and Penelope Cruz), the jokes aren t all that good either.

And though one hesitates to use the word charm, this one plainly lacks that and a few other things Beverly Hills Chihuahua had going for it. Couldn t they have used a frame or two of real guinea pigs? These animated guys are just chipmunks without the singing and the sweaters.

Zach Galifianakis of The Hangover stars as a scientist who is about to lose his Homeland Security grant for turning wildlife into SPECIAL special agents. So he unleashes them on a global appliance king (Bill Nighy) who seems to have designs on world conquest. The team three guinea pigs, a mole, and a fly with cameras mounted on its chassis call themselves G-Force. But they don t get the goods on the bad guy.

The plug is pulled on the project (Will Arnett is the FBI agent who scorns them) and the chatty critters (they have voice-decoding gadgets) are condemned to the pet shop, at the mercy of sadistic little boys and little girls who want to dress them up.

What will Darwin (the voice of Sam Rockwell), Juarez (Cruz) and Blaster (Tracy Morgan) do? Why, break out and prove themselves, of course. They ll bring along untrained guinea pig Hurley (Jon Favreau) because We leave no rodent behind.

The jokes are of the Don t drop a pellet and flatulent rodent variety. Juarez has her own Facebook page, where she muses on the nature of love. And Blaster gives the dialogue little bursts of flavor Holla!

Bring the kids (they want to see it) on the condition that they NOT be allowed to ask for the DVD for Christmas and they NOT want to stop at the pet store on the way home.

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