Movie review: Biting 'Bad Guys' engaging for adults too

Fred Hawson

Posted at Apr 30 2022 07:02 AM

A scene from 'The Bad Guys.' Handout
A scene from 'The Bad Guys.' Handout

In Los Angeles, anthropomorphic animals lived with the human population. The debonair thief Mr. Wolf led the gang called the Bad Guys, who terrorized the city with their crime sprees. His mates included his grumpy best friend Mr. Snake, the child-like disguise expert Mr. Shark, the crazy hothead Mr. Piranha and and tech hacker wiz Ms. Tarantula. They lived a life of crime because people all looked at them as villains anyway. 

One night, the Bad Guys gatecrashed an event with philanthropist and goodness advocate guinea pig Prof. Rupert Marmalade IV, planning to steal the Golden Dolphin trophy to be awarded him by governor fox Diane Foxington. Their plans miscarry, and they end up being arrested. However, Marmalade interceded and offered to conduct an experiment to prove that he can convert the Bad Guys into good.

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The artwork by the artists from Dreamworks Animation was very interesting to observe and study. The main animal figures were three-dimensional, but they still had that old-fashioned two-dimensional look with regards to the details. The hair and facial features of Wolf and his gang looked like they were hand-painted on, in contrast with Disney-Pixar which generally have animals with fluffy wavy fur. The action sequences were also frenetic and exciting.

The voice cast was very entertaining to listen to. Sam Rockwell (as Wolf) had a genuine rapport with Marc Maron (as Snake), as well as easy chemistry with Zazie Beetz (as Diane). Awkwafina's Ms. Tarantula was practically a stereotype of having the female member of the gang be the hacker. Anthony Reyes as the rambunctious Piranha gets to belt out the catchy theme song "Good Tonight" in a lively party scene. 

The protagonists of this animated film are literal "bad guys" as the title clearly says. However, the screenplay by Etan Cohen, based on the children's book series of the same title by Aaron Blabey, gave this bunch of crooks a story arc that promised a path towards redemption which makes it appropriate for young viewers to watch with their parents. 

The twisty way the story unfolded and its biting sense of humor made it quite engaging for adults as well.

This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."