Not everything has to reinvent the wheel….
In theatres now, The Bad Guys leans into its premise with a wink and a nod to the audience that comes off a little smarmy but still ends up being pretty fun.
Never have there been five friends as infamous as The Bad Guys—dashing pickpocket Mr. Wolf (Sam Rockwell), seen-it-all safecracker Mr. Snake (Marc Maron), chill master-of-disguise Mr. Shark (Craig Robinson), short-fused “muscle” Mr. Piranha (Anthony Ramos) and sharp-tongued expert hacker Ms. Tarantula (Awkwafina), aka “Webs.” But when, after years of countless heists and being the world’s most-wanted villains, the gang is finally caught, Mr. Wolf brokers a deal (that he has no intention of keeping) to save them all from prison: The Bad Guys will go good. Under the tutelage of their mentor Professor Marmalade (Richard Ayoade), an arrogant (but adorable!) guinea pig, The Bad Guys set out to fool the world that they’ve been transformed. Along the way, though, Mr. Wolf begins to suspect that doing good for real may give him what he’s always secretly longed for: acceptance. So when a new villain threatens the city, can Mr. Wolf persuade the rest of the gang to become … The Good Guys?
Let’s be honest with each other for a minute and call a spade a spade; The Bad Guys is basically an animated take on the Ocean’s movies. While it’s admittedly a little thin on substance it more than compensates for that with some well-established character work and style that is dripping off the screen for days.
Things don’t come out of DreamWorks studios looking bad….ever and as it pulls from the original source material by Aaron Blabey and his series of novels we get something that feels very visually kinetic and fun. It’s designed that you just will never get all that bored following it all.
First time feature helmer Pierre Perifel manages to keep it all going at a very healthy clip and the film is filled with music as well which makes it all a little bouncier then I expected, but given the break neck speed that the gas are going at, bouncy is probably a bit of an understatement. It’s animation for the Tiktok crowd because everything is coming at us as audience members in a rapid fire fashion.
Surprisingly enough the real gem on of this film is the voice performance of Sam Rockwell. As our hero the dashing pickpocket Mr. Wolf, he leans into the smarmy charm but we also genuinely believe him when he is conflicted over doing good things. As these stories are aimed at kids there isn’t necessarily a ton of emotional nuance in the material but Rockwell gives the character some actual gravitas so audience members of any age can genuinely appreciate the stakes involved.
The balance of the voice talent involved all bring their A Game (especially Richard Ayoade who I only realized in the movie once I watched the credits) but only Rockwell really gets to craft something that is genuinely memorable.
When all is said and done, The Bad Guys is an affable high octane affair that audiences of all ages can enjoy, but it’s break neck story telling speed forces this down a notch from something that could have been memorable beyond this opening weekend.