G-Force

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Directed by Hoyt H. Yeatman Jr. Featuring the voices of Tracy Morgan, Penélope Cruz, Nicolas Cage, and Steve Buscemi. Rated PG.

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The premise, punched-up puns, and character development are more lightweight than the helium balloons in Up, but Disney's new CGI-heavy excuse to flood the market with kiddie merch (it's the year's first 3-D commercial, and we're the real guinea pigs) has a box office trick up its shallow sleeve: Jerry Bruckheimer. Amping up the Beverly Hills Chihuahua formula with a whole A-team of adorable, talking fur balls who converse in one-liners and pop-culture references (Apocalypse Now and Scarface, really?), the mega-producer's stamp is on every fight sequence, explosion, and ugly stereotype. The last refers to Blaster, one of the genetically modified guinea pigs in G-Force — a federally funded team of elite animal operatives — who is literally black, speaks in buffoonish jive, and is voiced by Tracy Morgan ("Holla!"). Penélope Cruz plays the spicy she-pig Juarez, but more embarrassing is Zach Galifianakis, apparently still hung over and forced to show his live-action mug as the nerdy Dr. Dolittle who commands the squad with voice-recognition hardware. Together, along with a fly, a mole, and the competent direction of longtime F/X supervisor Hoyt Yeatman Jr., these charmless happy-meal avatars must battle evil industrialist Bill Nighy and his sentient consumer-electronics robot, which looks exactly like a junkyard Decepticon. From recycled trash to inevitable blockbuster gold, Bruckheimer is the true transformer.

 
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