Zach Galifianakis stars in a guinea pig movie. He's so young to be typecast.
It turns out, though, that the furry little actor plays the human adviser to "G-Force," a team of commando rodents equipped with spy goggles, advanced communications gear and a mission to infiltrate the headquarters of a former arms dealer (Bill Nighy).
The dealer's goal is to build a network of household appliances implanted with smart chips that will enable the devices to communicate with each other -- or maybe take over the world.
In other words, here's your best opportunity yet to cross "See guinea pigs re-enact 'The Dirty Dozen' " off your list of things to do before you die.
The g-pigs also restage bits of "Toy Story," "True Lies" and especially "Transformers" as the devices go all Optimus Prime and start chomping through the scenery to a degree that suggests they've studied the work of Nicolas Cage -- who turns up as the voice of a mole doing high-tech work for the g-team.
Other voices come from Sam Rockwell (too blah), Jon Favreau and Penelope Cruz (kind of funny) and Tracy Morgan, who makes the most of some so-so lines and seems destined to be the next cartoon-voice star. (How about teaming him with Jack Black? I'd buy a ticket.)
The guinea pigs aren't the cutest or most inspired members of the Disney family (and the hamster who had a supporting role in last fall's cartoon "Bolt" was crazier and funnier than any of the critters in this movie), but they're amusing enough and the story has a peppy pace.
Pop-culture references and one-liners pile up like so many cedar shavings. Many of the jokes involve hindquarters blasts on the part of the rodents (one of whom is even named "Blaster") and many are groaners ("leave no rodent behind"), but a few of them work.
In a chase scene that takes him under a speeding car, one guinea pig looks up and says, "He paid for undercoating? What a sucker." Confronted by a talking guinea pig, a sneering federal agent (Will Arnett) who wants to shut down the G-Force blusters, "That's impossible!" Cruz's line is, "No. Finding something that fits off the rack -- that's impossible."
Other jokes are goofy enough to be endearing. A fly who works with the gang on their spy missions gets dejected when the mission is failing, leaving Galifianakis to deliver the "Muppet Show"-grade line, "I was so worried about you. I don't like it when my fly is down."
Thanks to an unexpected twist and a clever motivation lurking in the back story of the super-villain, "G-Force" has enough going on to more or less maintain grown-up interest, and there's plenty to please the kiddies, if you can deflect inquiries about the possibility of acquiring caged rodents as pets. Now, if only these long-tailed secret agents could figure out a way to take out Beverly Hills Chihuahua.