I really don't know why I'm bothering: the film came out over a week ago (a geological age in Summer Movie time), nobody in the proper age bracket who would want to see it is at all likely to stumble across this blog, and money's snug enough that I should just as soon not fritter away cash on something that a) I do not want to see, and b) I know damn well that I'll have nothing valuable to say about. It was guilt, that's what done it. I made that damn promise about seeing every #1 movie at the box office, and it was gnawing on me like a swollen parasite that I hadn't yet.

So yeah, G-Force. In which Jerry Bruckheimer presents animated sentient guinea pig super-spies who work for the FBI, saving the world from a supervilliain's scheme for conquest. There must have been some fine bud in the Brukheimer compound back on the day when this one got pitched.

The story is a bit more complex than just that, of course, as befits the fact that it was written by, literally, a half-dozen people, among them Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio, whom Bruckheimer has loved ever since they made him look like a genius for producing Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl; and someone rather threateningly referred to as "The Wibberleys", which I thought at first might be some faceless think tank organisation specialising in making the most soullessly commercial projects imaginable - that, or the name Bruckheimer gives to the invisible dolphin monkeys that live in the trees in his backyard and whisper ideas like "sentient guinea pig super-spies" in a language that only he can understand, by using the late Don Simpson's genetic code as a Kabbalistic codebook. Sadly, it turns out that they're just a husband-and-wife screenwriting team, Cormac and Marianne, and they have previously worked on things like The 6th Day, Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle and the remake of The Shaggy Dog, meaning that "sentient guinea pig super-spys" doesn't even count as a dip in their career, let alone an embarrassment.

THE STORY IS MORE COMPLEX THAN THAT, OF COURSE, he declared, quickly returning to his earlier track: Ben (Zach Galifianakis) is a federal researcher who has perfected the technology for communicating with animals and training them in the arts of espionage and infiltration. His most elite team consists of three guinea pigs, Darwin (voiced by Sam Rockwell), Juarez (PenΓ©lope Cruz), and Blaster (Tracy Morgan), as well as a star-nosed mole named Speckles (Nicolas Cage, sounding just Cagey enough that you can recognise it's him if you knew it beforehand), and a housefly, Mooch (Dee Bradley Baker, the one honest-to-God professional voice actor in the cast). They successfully infiltrate the high-tech home of former weapons manufacturer, current home appliance mogul Leonard Saber (Bill Nighy). Unfortunately, their data is compromised at some point, leading smarmy FBI Special Agent in Charge Kip Killian (Will Arnett) to shut down the newly-christened "G-Force" and send the spies into hiding, first to a pet shop where they meet a run-of-the-mill, flatulent, pudgy cavy named Hurley (Jon Favreau), and thence back to Ben's relocated base of operations. A ticking-clock scenario is in effect throughout.

It is important to note this one very surprising thing about G-Force: it is not even remotely as bad as it could have been. Because, let's call a spade a spade: "sentient guinea pig spies" could easily have been just about the worst movie ever made, especially as a live-action and animation combo. As an animated cartoon, or even a cartoon series, would not have seemed like such a horrible idea, largely because it could comfortably dwell in the children's animation ghetto, and oh my God I just realised how much of this concept (four rodents and a fly, high tech, ludicrous world-domination schemes) comes from the 1989 Disney show Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers.

But I have once again lost my thread. All things considered, G-Force is neither an abomination nor a train-wreck. Not merely some, but indeed several of the family-friendly action-movie quips are honestly amusing if not laugh-out-loud funny, and this being a Bruckheimer production (though directed by some visual effects bloke named Hoyt Yeatman. Hoyt Yeatman! Sounds like the made-up name of a spoiled rich antagonist in a 1980's frat comedy), when shit 'splodes, it 'splodes in very exhilarating manner, though the family-friendly action-movie body count is rather dramatically low, at a grand total of 0 dead persons, guinea pigs, or others, at the film's conclusion, and this does tend to leach the dramatic possibilities out of any and all 'splosions.

That said, what is good about the film is a minor list compared to what is not: the expected kids' movie flatulence, the "man, I do love a good paycheck!" quality to all of the performances other than Cage's (weird, right?), Yeatman's fairly dispiriting lack of interest in doing things with the camera other than pointing it at the characters, the dodgy character animation, and the much dodgier mixing of that animation with the live-action footage. In one scene, the pigs are looked over for adoption by two horrible children, and the shots of those children holding them aren't remotely as good as similar shots in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, a film made over twenty years ago.

All of these are fairly standard problems. What bothers me most about the film, though, is its lack of responsibility. No, not about guinea pigs: in fact, during the brief scenes with the horrible children, the film strongly argues that they should not be given as pets indiscriminately. Rather, it is irresponsible, wickedly so, to the children in the audience. Easy for an adult critic to lazily complain about the movie and then write it all off with, "but the kiddies will be entertained!" Sure, I bet they will, and therein is the danger. Having successfully conditioned every teenage boy in America to believe that Big Dumb Summer Movies are the only things worth paying any attention to (and inadvertently, conditioning those teens' elder siblings and parents of much the same thing, Bruckheimer - the man who is more responsible for the current state of big-budgeting filmmaking than any other individual, if you asked me - has set his sights on the next age bracket downwards. G-Force is a doubtlessly unconscious effort to make the "explosions = good filmmaking" mentality that has so poisoned modern film culture something that becomes an entrenched filmgoing habit even earlier than 11 or 12, whatever we think the current bottom level for dumb explodey movies is. If there have been any other movies like this for the 7-and-above set, I haven't encountered them. One day, Bruckheimer or one of his descendants, will figure out how to market an action movie to 2-year-olds, and that is when we as a culture will be terminally, irrevocably fucked.

That said, I suppose the kiddies will be entertained. So if you're a parent, and you don't give a damn if your children grow up to be the kind of people that think movies like Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is any kind of legitimate achievement, go on! Have a great time! At least, on balance, it's not quite the wasteland for the accompanying parent that kid's movies sometimes can be.

4/10