It’s always refreshing to see something so lively, invigorating, and fun after so many weeks of lackluster entertainment. Seriously, part of the reason I haven’t written anything new in a while is that I’ve had nothing to say about the shows and movies I watched.
Dreamworks’ The Bad Guys was exactly what I needed. This goofy film is full of creative animation, hilarious jokes, and homages to the heist movie genre. Despite the movie’s title, the titular ‘Bad Guys’ are funny and likable characters, especially the lead Mr. Wolf. Though their story is a bit predictable and the moral, done before — both are done very well.
The Bad Guys – consisting of Mr. Wolf, Mr. Snake, Mr. Shark, Mr. Piranha, and Ms. Tarantula – are a gang of criminals most known for their elaborate heists. When the biggest one they’ve ever pulled goes wrong – Professor Marmalade declares he’ll help them go good.
But things aren’t always as they seem – and when they’re blamed for the theft of a meteorite, the Bad Guys must clear their name and avoid jail time. It’s a relatively simple and straightforward plot – but there are a few twists that keep the story interesting. But like many animated films – it’s not the plot that makes The Bad Guys special, it’s the characters and the heart.
Unlike other films that focus on anthropomorphic characters dealing with discrimination, there are no racism metaphors that muddy the waters and provide a real ‘reason’ as to why the gang is discriminated against.
They’re judged based on their species alone. And I think this is perfectly fine. No need to overcomplicate things with a predator/prey dynamic where the latter has an actual reason to fear the former – and it’s not just some internal prejudice.
The movie borrows lovingly from heist films of all kinds – and with that comes a kind of mature edge. The characters discuss their futures, their pasts…their friendships, etc. The main relationship in the film, platonic at least, is between Wolf and Snake – and it’s done wonderfully.
I can buy these two having a long history; the movie starts out with Wolf and Snake celebrating the latter’s birthday reminiscent of the scene in Pulp Fiction. They’re at a diner talking about their favorite foods – there’s something almost sentimental about the conversation they’re having. It’s deep and meaningful…I really liked it.
It almost made it feel like the planned heist was their “one last job” before going into retirement. That was a nice touch.
The character of Diane Foxington, the governor, is a nice addition to the movie. It’s obvious she and Wolf develop feelings for each other, but thankfully the romance doesn’t take over the movie. Nor is she quite, the good girl falling for the bad boy due to his wit and charm. There’s more to it than that.
And importantly, the film is genuinely funny. While there’s toilet humor, there’s also humor in the characters’ behaviors and reactions to the inane situations they find themselves in. It’s able to appeal to a variety of audiences from kids to their parents to people like me, who aren’t necessarily in the target demographic.
From a technical standpoint, The Bad Guys is also impressive for its design and animation style. It was clearly influenced by Into the SpiderVerse as it was heavily stylized – and I think this distinctive look really helped the movie shine.
Though they’re not the focus, I felt as though the movie could do without Mr. Piranha’s noxious farts as part of the humor. It seemed unnecessary – but it is a kid’s movie, after all. There must be some kind of quota for this kind of thing.
The movie has very frenetic pacing. There is an awful lot going on, especially in the movie’s first half that I think it might get a little confusing for younger audiences. The pacing also doesn’t leave a lot of room to develop all the characters…I feel as though more time could have been devoted to the Bad Guys who aren’t Wolf and Snake. Shark, Piranha, and Tarantula don’t really have an opportunity to shine.
But that can easily be fixed in a sequel. This is Wolf’s movie.
The big plot twist concerning the villain somehow manages to be both utterly predictable – and seems to come out of absolutely nowhere. It kind of works well, with the whole heist trope of things being explained only after they happened, but there’s not exactly a lot of foreshadowing.
And this is just a personal peeve; there are sentient animals like our main characters and seemingly just normal, non-anthropomorphic ones…How does that work?
The ending of The Bad Guys leaves plenty of room for a spin-off series or sequel – though I’d prefer the latter following more of the Bad Guys’ adventures. Considering the movie is based on a book series with the same name there’s plenty of material to adapt.
This is definitely something I want more of – and I can’t wait to see where the adventures of The Bad Guys will go next.
Release Year: 2022
Length: 100 minutes
Director: Pierre Perifel
Screenplay by: Etan Cohen
Producers: Damon Ross, Rebecca Huntley