Released: 31st March
Seen: 5th July
It’s been a while since there’s been an entertaining crime caper film out, the last one that leaps out to memory would probably be The Gentlemen and the vast majority of films in that genre tend to fall under the adult rating. Let’s be honest, you’re not going to get your entire family to sit through Oceans 8 or Reservoir Dogs. So it’s nice to see that there are some family-oriented crime capers out there that can deliver on everything people love about the genre without alienating the little ones… plus the fact that all the characters are hilarious anthropomorphized animals in suits and gorgeous gowns is a bonus.
The Bad Guys follows a ragtag team of stereotypical villains who work together to do a series of heists around their little town. The team consists of the leader, Mr. Wolf (Sam Rockwell), his second in command and safe cracker Mr. Snake (Marc Maron), the hacker Ms. Tarantula (Awkwafina), master of disguise Mr. Shark (Craig Robinson) and the hotheaded muscle Mr. Piranha (Anthony Ramos) and together they have developed quite the reputation as wanted master thieves… right up until they finally get caught during one of their big heists. Just when it looks like their wild times might come to an end, local do-gooder Professor Marmalade (Richard Ayoade) offers to try to guide The Bad Guys onto a better path, turning them into good guys. Maybe there is some good in these bad guys after all.
Going to make this as blunt as possible, The Bad Guys is probably the best thing that DreamWorks Animation has put out since Captain Underpants. From start to finish the film is an absolute undeniable joy to watch, from the spectacular visual style to the quick wit and bountiful banter. Every element of this film is brilliant, showing just what this animation studio can produce when they want to stretch themselves and show off. You get the sense that there’s some genuine passion here, this is something everyone clearly wanted to make for reasons other than “the last movie in this franchise made money” and that passion just oozes out of the screen.
Every chance The Bad Guys gets, it celebrates the fun of this genre, from the opening lifted right out of Pulp Fiction to the over-the-top Oceans 11-style heist to a chase sequence the film pulls out fun little nods and then pushes them as far as the animated medium will allow. Sure it’s fun seeing crime capers where someone has a flawless disguise but it’s more fun just to have a shark put on a stupid moustache and have everyone go along with it. The film keeps pulling out these silly gags that should just be stupid and annoying but somehow makes them hilarious. I should not laugh as hard as I did because a piranha man farted in an air vent and yet I caught myself cackling because it’s so well executed.
On top of the silly gags, both visual and verbal, The Bad Guys also has a very strong heart to it. The core chosen family have that kind of connection where everyone can lovingly rip on each other but will drop everything to help, there’s an undeniable sweetness that’s right there from the beginning when the main characters keep breaking up a big heist to celebrate Snake’s birthday and that sweet charm just carries throughout The Bad Guys, simmering underneath the layers of banter and fart jokes that this film excels at.
There are a few moments where those cheesy jokes do push it, one “That looks like a butt” joke too many can spoil the momentum of a scene and this happens now and then where The Bad Guys keeps hammering a joke in until it just stops working but this is only a mild nitpick. It also has kind of a predictable reveal in the third act, the kind of reveal you can call the second a certain character is introduced which you know is going to form the basis of the final act. This is largely because it’s the same twist almost everyone has done since roughly when Frozen came out. Again, this isn’t a deal-breaker but it would be lovely if this twist reveal that every animated kid’s film seems to use could just go away.
Even with those mild problems though, The Bad Guys is fantastic with a gorgeous visual style that elevates the comedy. It’s a ton of fun, action-packed and with some of the best characters you’ll see this year. Easily one of the most enjoyable films of 2022, sure there are a few places it could improve and some rough edges that need fixing but the pure charm of the film more than makes up for those areas. A joy to watch, an absolute easy recommend.