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Originally published July 23, 2009 at 3:40 PM | Page modified July 23, 2009 at 5:44 PM

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Movie review

Talking guinea pigs help give "G-Force" an A-plus

"G-Force" — a part-animated, part-live-action family feature — finds guinea pigs and other critters taking on a threat to the world. Nicolas Cage, Penélope Cruz, Tracy Morgan, Jon Favreau and Sam Rockwell voice the rodent heroes.

Special to The Seattle Times

Movie review 3 stars

"G-Force," with the voices of Nicolas Cage, Penélope Cruz, Tracy Morgan, Jon Favreau, Steve Buscemi, Sam Rockwell, plus live-action performances by Zach Galifianakis, Bill Nighy, Will Arnett. Directed by Jr. Hoyt Yeatman, from a screenplay by Cormac Wibberley, Marianne Wibberley, Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio and Tim Firth. 89 minutes. Rated PG for some mild action and rude humor. Several theaters; see Page 17.

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There's a moment in "G-Force," a part-animated, part-live-action family feature, that captured my imagination more than anything else I've seen in this summer's blockbuster movies.

Certain nefarious activities in the film — which, by the way, is a genuinely enjoyable romp with talking guinea pigs working for U.S. intelligence — require a satellite circling our planet to make a mechanical adjustment of some sort.

There's a cut to the satellite's position in space, similar to other shots of solo orbiters seen in action films. But the image in "G-Force" is different: While the essential satellite is in the foreground, we can see scores of others rounding Earth in varying directions and at different distances from the surface.

One can't help but think, wow! This must be what it really looks like up there, with all those sedan-size machines crisscrossing the sky. The image lasts barely a second — "G-Force" never rests — but what lingers is the rarity of a fresh approach to an overly familiar idea.

There are plenty of novel sights in "G-Force," including a fly's flight through a jungle of hungry Venus flytraps (seen from the insect's point of view), and a car mishap that sets off a fireworks show prematurely. Parents already in dread of taking their children to this 3-D kids' movie by uber-producer Jerry Bruckheimer ("CSI") will find much to appreciate, though "G-Force" is lots of fun all around.

Nicolas Cage, Penélope Cruz, Tracy Morgan, Jon Favreau and Sam Rockwell voice the rodent heroes of "G-Force," trained by an FBI scientist (Zach Galifianakis) to penetrate enemy territory where human agents can't go. The team discovers a plot for world conquest led by an appliance maker (Bill Nighy), but their efforts to stop him are hampered by an interfering administrator (Will Arnett).

Director Jr. Hoyt Yeatman, an Oscar winner whose credits as an effects master go back to "E.T. the Extraterrestrial" and "Blade Runner," brings a sometimes startling imagination to the proceedings. The vocal cast — particularly Cage (unrecognizable) and Morgan, plus a guest appearance by Steve Buscemi — makes a lot of good scenes even better.

Just don't be surprised if there's a run on pet-store guinea pigs in the next few weeks.

Tom Keogh:

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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