From Dreamworks and NBCUniversal, The Bad Guys is a fun, animated romp for kids of all ages. Starring Sam Rockwell, Marc Maron, Zazie Beetz and more, the film is kind of a Suicide Squad for kids! Let me explain.
A group of petty criminals have made it their mission to wreak havoc all over their fair city. The group consists of Mr. Wolf (Sam Rockwell), Mr. Snake (Marc Maron), Mr. Shark (Craig Robinson), Mr. Piranha (Anthony Ramos) and the fantastic hacker Ms. Tarantula (Awkwafina) aka Webs. The crew have resigned themselves to their lot in life as villains. They’re always cast as the bad guys, so it’s a part they’ll play. Though not all of them may be as fulfilled as they’d like.
While attempting to pull of the heist of the century, Mr. Wolf has an encounter that results in him being called… a good boy. His tail wags enthusiastically, but he can’t reconcile that with what he’s defined as his life’s purpose. He wants… to be good?! This sends Mr. Wolf and his friends on a journey that shows they might not be so bad as much as misunderstood. The good hearted Professor Marmalade (Richard Ayoade) and the capable new mayor Diane Foxington (Zazie Beetz) add color that both help and hinder our group as they try to turn over a new leaf.
This is a typical story told in a very interesting way. The animation style is particularly interesting, the background lighting is soft and there’s lots of gold used to give the movie an almost noir-like feel. This makes the group appear seedy, yet there’s something that glows about them, showing there may be something more behind these hard hearts.
The vocal performances are bright and engaging. Anthony Ramos has worked on Trolls by Dreamworks so he’s well versed in animation voice-over. Sam Rockwell brings his cool suaveness, and Marc Maron bring his exhausted yet endearing frumpiness to Mr. Snake. Richard Ayoade does a fantastic job as the loveable Professor Marmalade, playing him with reckless abandon that had everyone in the audience laughing. Zazie Beetz’s performance takes a little time to get off the ground, but once it does it explains why that time was needed.
The film harbors a sweet premise: you can be whatever you want to be. The idea of being born preternaturally bad or not being unable to escape stereotyping and judgment is one that’s very relevant to today’s culture. People are becoming shockingly intolerant at speeds matching those who are becoming more tolerant. There’s a running gag where Mr. Snake always offers to share a push pop with Mr. Shark and then tricks him at the last moment. He’s not doing it because he’s naturally cruel and he’s certainly not doing it because he wants the push pop. He’s doing it because that’s what bad guys do. And it’s something that’s been foisted on him his entire life, simply for the crime of being born a snake.
He has desires and wants and he considers the crew to be his family, but allowing himself to be vulnerable is not something he’s willing to do because that’s not what bad guys do, right? It’s a fascinating and complex subject that’s distilled down for younger minds in a pleasing way. The good are not always as they appear and neither are the bad guys.
The Bad Guys is playing in theaters now!