Cage Match

Nic plays a mole with a hidden agenda in this week’s film.

G-Force
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G-Force

Release year: 2009 Posted November 24, 2014

”They said it was for science /

But I’m the human guinea pig”

Suicidal Tendencies (“Human Guinea Pig”)

G-Force is an action movie about FBI secret agents…who are also guinea pigs. It strikes the right balance between stupidly serious and flippant, and despite the expectations of the Cage Match staff, it’s a cute, easy-to-watch kids’ movie. It also features the best voice acting of Nicolas Cage’s career.

Cage is the voice of Speckles, a computer genius and star-nosed mole. Speckles was traumatized at a young age when humans destroyed his home and killed his family, so after a scientist (played by, get this, Zach Galifianakis) heightens his and a few rodents’ natural intelligence for a government experiment, Speckles secretly builds murderous, Voltron-like robots into the prototypes of coffee makers, vacuums, and other household goods, patiently waiting for the right time to turn them all against humanity.

G-Force appears to take lessons from the failures of The Ant Bully and Astro Boy, finally freeing Nicolas Cage’s voice by allowing him to have fun and be creative in an already wacky setting. Accordingly, G-Force becomes his playground. Clearly incorporating the bizarre appearance of the star-nosed mole into his characterization, Cage delivers a hilariously nasal and piteously meek Speckles for the first half of the film. When it’s later revealed that Speckles is the mastermind behind the evil appliances, it’s incredibly satisfying to watch Cage’s Speckles dump the meek persona and reveal his psychotic plan. The whole performance is a tremendous success.

Cage didn’t have to carry the movie by himself, either. The other voice and live actors are incredibly talented. Between Tracy Morgan, Steve Buscemi, Penélope Cruz, Jon Favreau, Sam Rockwell, Kelli Garner, Will Arnett, Bill Nighy, and the aforementioned Galifianakis, there’s a lot to enjoy.

It’s interesting to note that Cage is not the hero of the film. Reversing their roles in Matchstick Men, Sam Rockwell plays the daring hero, a guinea pig named Darwin. Cage is just the IT guy, playing second fiddle at best. This satisfies my desire to see Cage take on more goofy supporting roles that he can explore and steal some scenes with. Placed in this character-actor role, Cage brought something new and interesting. I’m increasingly confident that characters like Speckles are the absolute best use of Cage at this point in his career.

G-Force is not without flaws. There are two glaring problems. First, Tracy Morgan, who voices Blaster, has lines that are full of stereotyped black guy phrases, escalating in number until it’s obvious the character exists because some Hollywood cracker in a suit decided one of the guinea pigs needed to be “urban.” Second, in order to set up Speckles’s transformation from ally to villain, his death is faked shortly into the second act. While the staff of Cage Match was confident his character would come back, and although seeing him return as a mad scientist was immensely rewarding, there were about sixty Cage-free minutes when his absence was deeply felt. For the first time since starting this project, I said in all sincerity, “I could really use more Nicolas Cage.”

G-Force was the directorial debut of Hoyt Yeatman, a visual effects supervisor on over fifty films including The Rock and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. It was Yeatman’s story but the screenplay was written by Cormac and Marianne Wibberley, whom you may remember as the writers of National Treasure and National Treasure: Book of Secrets. They aren’t the best in the biz but they sure know how to keep a plot zipping along. This is definitely writing for the ADHD generation. It might be time to start saying goodbye to the slow-build thriller.

This was a fun movie. I wouldn’t recommend someone go out of their way as an adult to see it, but if you’re babysitting or something and you have to pick something to watch, G-Force is a good bet.

Movie?
Good!
Nic Cage’s acting?
Better!
Did his performance make the movie worse?
Absolutely not