We live in a marvelous age, one where technological advancements have made it relatively easy to produce a film in which computer-generated guinea pigs interact seamlessly with flesh-and-blood humans. What's extraordinary is that a film can have all that and still be boring. Eighty years ago, people were delighted just to see movies talk. In 2009, you can watch animated rodents save the world and still think, "Meh. What else you got?"

G-Force is the subject, a harmless and good-natured family flick that unfortunately relies so much on its central conceit -- small animals have been trained as government spies!! -- that it forgets to do anything else. Take the animals out of the equation and you're left with an exceedingly generic secret-agent adventure -- which may be no surprise, given that the screenplay is by the husband-and-wife team of Cormac and Marianne Wibberley, who also wrote the National Treasure movies, Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, and Bad Boys II. If anyone knows by-the-numbers action movies, it's those two. (The first-time director is Hoyt Yeatman, an Oscar-winning special-effects wizard with a long Hollywood résumé.)

The G-Force is a squad of three guinea pigs and a mole that have been fitted with devices that translate their squeakings into human speech, and then trained as spies by a low-level government scientist named Ben (Zach Galifianakis). Ben can also train insects to carry tiny cameras into small spaces, though it doesn't seem to be a matter of "training" them so much as just telling them what to do and they do it. Ben is almost literally the lord of the flies.