Nicolas Cage voices a cyber-intelligent star-nosed mole in the family action-adventure G-Force. Naturally, he’s perfect in the role.
“No, not the cage. I don’t do cages!”
Over the course of his career Nicolas Cage has lent his talents to a number of voice-over and animated projects. I haven’t really discussed any of those projects yet, but today that changes when I dive into 2009’s G-Force.
G-Force, which blends animation with live-action, is the story of a special team of trained animals working for the FBI. The animals have been trained by scientist Ben Kendell (Zach Galifianakis) and he has equipped them with a special device that allows them to talk to humans. The team consists of three guinea pigs— Darwin (Sam Rockwell), Blaster (Tracy Morgan), Juarez (Penelope Cruz) — and they are joined by a mole named Speckles (Nicolas Cage) and a housefly named Mooch (Dee Bradley Baker).
A recent shakeup in the FBI has seen agent Kip Killian (Will Arnett) promoted to the head of the FBI which means all department funding is under review. In an effort to prove his department is worth keeping around, Ben sends his team on an unauthorized mission to infiltrate the home of Leonard Saber (Bill Nighy). Saber has been under FBI investigation for a number of years making this a very risky operation. If the team succeeds they’ll prove their worth to the FBI, but if they fail it could ruin everything.
The mission doesn’t go quite as planned and Killian shuts the department down. Fearing that talking animals could jeopardize his standing in the FBI, Killian also orders all the animals be rounded up. These aren’t normal animals, however, and they pull off a daring escape, determined to bring down Saber and prove they belong in the FBI.
G-Force is a bit silly, naturally, and not all the jokes work but it’s a pretty charming an enjoyable family-friendly action-comedy. The action sequences actually work quite well. One scene has Blaster driving in a radio-controlled car to escape the home of a problem child. It’s a pretty wonderfully staged car chase scene that can hold its own with most car chase scenes. This one just happens to involve a guinea pig and a radio-controlled car.
Speckles is your standard hacker that you find in any heist movie. He’s the one responsible for making sure everything is a go when the team runs a mission. These characters are typically the nerdy members of any heist team and Cage plays him as such. The animation allows Cage to do things he likely can’t do in live-action that often. The voice, for example, that he uses is quite bizarre. It’s a bit of a call back to Peggy Sue Got Married, but probably not something he would use in a live-action film made today.
This is one of those movies where Cage is clearly having fun. Not only does he do the voice, but his character more than any other hates cages. A handful of times throughout the film Speckles talks about how he hates the cage. That’s a fun wink at the audience that I’ll always be on board with.
One thing that struck me when I watched the film for the first time is the fact that Cage does play the mole. I just kind of expected him to be one of the guinea pigs because I assumed he would be the lead. For Cage, however, being the mole was a no-brainer.
“There is nothing about a guinea pig that I respond to,” Cage told Paul Byrne in an interview to promote the film. “There just a little too cute and cuddly and domesticated for my tastes. I need an animal that has a long tail, that looks like he says ‘I dare you to pick me up.’ And also I wanted to do something different with my voice. I knew that if I played one of the guinea pigs they’d want more of my own sound. A character that looks like that [referring to the mole] I could go and try and channel Mel Blanc and do something different, more of a Looney Toon character.”
There’s a lot of amazing things to take away from that Cage quote. He talks about the voice a bit, but my key take away is that there is nothing about a guinea pig that he responds to. Is there any other actor that would say that? I’m not so sure, but it’s so fitting for him. For one it’s just a weird quote, but it makes sense. Cage would choose to play the mole because he never takes the easy, most obvious choice.
G-Force is a pretty safe movie to make. It’s a Disney picture, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer about adorable talking animals. Even if a movie like this isn’t received well by critics, and G-Force wasn’t for the most part, it’s a safe bet to be successful at the box office and appeal to kids. There’s nothing risky about Cage making this movie, but even in a safe movie, he chose to take on the riskiest role. That’s Cage in a nutshell and it’s awesome.