starring Bill Nighy, Will Arnett, Zach Galifianakis, Kelli Garner
screenplay by The Wibberleys and Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio and Tim Firth
directed by Hoyt Yeatman
by Ian Pugh It's no small wonder, I suppose, that Disney's 3-D contraption G-Force isn't nearly as bad as it could--and by all rights should--be. Certainly, there are people at the Mouse House still convinced that an overload of genre clichés (here the conventions of the spy movie) are made instantly clever when applied to talking, farting animals (here guinea pigs), and that the company's morality factory hasn't already exhausted the virtues of makeshift families and believing in yourself. But encoded in the formula this time around is an odd, unspoken thesis about facing the hitherto-ignored consequences of cruelty towards those who can't defend themselves. Most intriguing to that end, the big-name actors roped into lending their voices to this mess are appropriately cast, their live-action personae transferred to a sticky CGI concoction of animal nature and human spite. Steve Buscemi cuts loose as an insane, sadistic hamster (his paranoid tendencies--he jealously guards his territory while mumbling to himself--born of "the psych ward at UCLA"), for instance, while Nicolas Cage, as an orphaned, star-nosed mole named "Speckles," improbably gives his best performance in years. Utilizing his weirdo inflections from Peggy Sue Got Married, Cage manages to channel his familiar space-case into an unlikely outlet and pump it with quiet desperation--dare I say pathos--without even the smallest hint of the self-parody that's plagued him of late. More than what the film deserves? Most definitely, although the high points of G-Force suggest that, at some stage of production, in some alternate universe, it may have actually deserved it.