Movie Review: THE BAD GUYS Starring Sam Rockwell, Marc Maron, Awkwafina
Directed by Pierre Perifel and based on the popular children’s books by Aaron Blabey, The Bad Guys is the latest animated feature from Dreamworks and Universal Pictures. Now playing in theaters everywhere, kids are going to love all that the bright and colorful film has to offer.
The titular “Bad Guys” are a group of animal criminals who feel like they’d belong right at home in a heist movie like Reservoir Dogs or Snatch. Led by Wolf (Sam Rockwell), the team is comprised of Snake (Marc Maron), Tarantula (Awkwafina), Shark (Craig Robinson), and Pirahna (Anthony Ramos). They’ve robbed banks, stolen the Mona Lisa, and have enough gold bars to buy anything they want. But things become personal when Governor Diane Foxington (Zazie Beetz) vows to put an end to their crime spree. Along with Police Chief Misty Luggins (Alex Borstein), a trap for the crew at an award ceremony to honor noted philanthropist Professor Marmalade (Richard Ayoade). But things don’t go according to plan for The Bad Guys, when Wolf accidentally discovers what it feels like to do something good.
The filmmakers assembled a great line-up when it comes to the voice cast. I’m always pleased when Sam Rockwell shows up in anything, and it was fun to watch him voicing the lead role in the film. As the leader of the crew, his character is the most conflicted when it comes to his new feelings of do-gooding, creating an interesting push and pull. Rockwell’s performance is well-animated and does a fun job with the role. Maron’s character, a snake dressed like Hunter S. Thompson in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, is hilarious. Awkwafina and Robinson are reliable as always, and Ramos is very funny as Pirahna.
Zazie Beetz is fantastic as Diane Foxington, the foil to Wolf. There is more to her character than meets the eye, and it is entertaining to watch as her story unfolds. And Richard Ayoade plays a terrific villain with his distinctive voice.
Dreamworks has delivered fantastic animation with franchises like How to Train Your Dragon and Shrek, but the computer animation in The Bad Guys is their most impressive yet. It is a unique style for the studio, feeling more like the visuals we have seen from Sony recently – with hits like Into the Spider-Verse and The Mitchells vs. The Machines. In this film, the CG is a nice blend of cell-shaded 3D animation and 2D physics. Much of how the world works reminds me of classic cartoons, like Looney Tunes or Silly Symphonies. Clearly, the animators have a passion for that style, and it makes for an entertaining watch here.
There is much to enjoy with The Bad Guys, from the slick visuals to the creative story and fun animal characters. The movie moves at a quick pace, coming in at only 100 minutes. Kids will love the attention-grabbing visuals and comedy, while there are a ton of really funny gags and Easter eggs that adults will pick up on. I have a feeling there will be a ton of new interest in the books after this weekend, and it shouldn’t be long before a sequel is in the works.