First off, I wasn’t impressed by the trailer of Dreamworks’ new animated full-length, ‘The Bad Guys.’ There was something so literal about it. A bunch of villains pretending to be good and, I’m guessing, they become good in the process. It came across as quite one-dimensional.
When I got to see the film, I was completely blown away. First off, the animation is splendid. It has the sheen and gloss of a painting that moves. The texture and colors of the images are quite beautiful to watch. But even if it is almost painting-like in its execution, it doesn’t stop director Pierre Perifel to do some really frenetic action that will be super enjoyable to both kids and adults alike.
What also drew me into the film is the intricate characterization of the cast. From the lead character, The Wolf, the charismatic leader of the criminal gang called The Bad Guys, to Mr. Snake, Webs, Shark, and Piranha. Each character is distinct, adorable, and unforgettable. It helps that the voice acting is really good. Sam Rockwell is slick and charming as The Wolf and Marc Maron plays off Rockwell extremely well as Mr. Snake. The cast also includes Awkwafina (Webs), Craig Robinson (Shark), Anthony Ramos (Piranha), Zazie Beets (as Governor Foxington), and Richard Ayoade (as the guinea pig narcissistic philanthropist Professor Marmalade).
It’s a straight-up caper film with hilarious gags that are funny and unexpected. Some of the gags include Mr. Shark being so excellent at disguise that it leads to hilarious effects, aside from the fact that he is visually a shark in a disguise. Piranha is a crazy, hot head, and he’s not the smartest fish in the sea. Adding to the hilarity of the film is the idea that some animals can talk and act like humans while some animals are merely animals. And they all live in a world primarily populated by humans. Even the governor is a literal fox!
The highly unrealistic world creates a space for some amazing visual setups for the rather complicated capers The Bad Guys pull, some energetic car chases, and some cool action sequences. This world is so left-of-center and out-of-the-box that it allows you to empathize with the lead characters despite them being criminals. But the movie is also nuanced enough to take note that The Wolf and Mr. Snake would pay their bill at a diner right before they rob a bank.
But further into the story, the movie pushes its nuances further and explores this idea about second chances and how dangerous stereotypes can be. It’s mentioned quite a few times in the film that you should never judge a book by its cover and the film manages to dramatize this wonderfully through its narrative and even choice of characters.
The Bad Guys – a wolf, a snake, a shark, a tarantula, and a piranha – all have bad reputations (as carnivores) but this is all a metaphor for something even bigger. The distorted reality of the setting allows for an interesting space to discuss the dangers of stereotyping and how we could easily force people into doing “bad things” just because that’s how the world perceives them.
What’s great about ‘The Bad Guys’ is that it manages to do this in a series of narrative twists and turns that keep you at your seat and manage to surprise you at every turn without sacrificing any of the enjoyment. It manages to stay fast-paced and funny while still going deep into society’s judgmental attitudes. The added bonus? It works well for both kids and adults alike.
Rumors have it that ‘The Bad Guys,’ based on the books of the same name by Aaron Blabey, will be a franchise IP. That means there will be more stories about these characters (even though the film ends with a clear resolution). I actually love the idea because I’d love to see these characters again and see what else is in store for these ‘bad guys.’
‘The Bad Guys‘ opens in Philippine cinemas on April 27, 2022. Buy your tickets here.
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