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‘The Bad Guys’ is a good time

‘The Bad Guys’ is a good time

From left: Mr. Shark (Craig Robinson), Mr. Piranha (Anthony Ramos), Mr. Snake (Marc Maron), Mr. Wolf (Sam Rockwell) and Mrs. Tarantula (Awkwafina) in DreamWorks Animation’s The Bad Guys, directed by Pierre Perifel.

Editor’s note: This the review was originally run April 22, 2022 when “The Bad Guys” hit theaters. It has been re-released in light of the film’s recent premiere at Peacock.

Mix one part “Zootopia” with two parts “Ocean’s Eleven” and just a dash of the visual style of “Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse” and you have “The Bad Guys”, the new animated hijacker from DreamWorks. Based on a book series by Australian author Aaron Blabey, “The Bad Guys” anchors its story around a gang of career criminals who regard their lack of moral scruples as a point of pride. But considering how cute these naughty guys are with each other, is there a chance they can have a good side anyway?

In fact, in much the same way that “Paddington 2” used its family film charm to touch on issues of prison reform, “The Bad Guys” has a thematic interest in restorative justice: What are the social forces that shape someone to become bad? And what if, instead of just locking them away, we offered them a path to transformation and rehabilitation?

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While a really great version of this material would have pushed these themes even further, “The Bad Guys” keeps things on the lighter, dumber side of the children’s movie spectrum. Still, the thematic depth helps to elevate a fun family film that highlights stylish, fast-paced predatory film irreverence and some welcome visual originality. This is the DreamWorks animation filtered through the lens of a Guy Ritchie or Quentin Tarantino action movie. And it turns out to be a winning smooth combination.

About “The Bad Guys”: So you’re a tough guy, you just can not get enough guys

Titular Bad Guys is a criminal crew made up of some of the animal kingdom’s most feared creatures. It’s the grumpy, confident Mr. Snake (Marc Maron), the exciting disguise master Mr. Shark (Craig Robinson), the unwavering tech spinner Ms. Tarantula aka “Webs” (Awkwafina), the fierce muscle Mr. Piranha (Anthony Ramos) and cute pickpocket / leader Mr. Wolf (Sam Rockwell) – George Clooney in the group. (It is a parallel that the film reveals lampshades at one point.)

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As first-time film director Pierre Perifel strikes out in a “Pulp Fiction” -inspired opening sequence, Bad Guys’ reputation goes before them. When people cringe in fear at the very sight of the big ugly wolf, bank robbery is a breeze. But did the crew members get their “bad guy” moniker because of their infamous robbery? Or did they just go into a life of crime because the world already saw them as bad?

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(from left) Shark (Craig Robinson), Wolf (Sam Rockwell), Piranha (Anthony Ramos) and Snake (Marc Maron) in DreamWorks Animations The Bad Guys, directed by Pierre Perifel.

The film puts that question to the test during a bad robbery, in which Mr. Wolf talks the crew out of jail by suggesting that the bad guys deserve a chance at redemption under the guidance of Professor Marmalade (Richard Ayoade), himself. -important philanthropist guinea pig. And while Wolf secretly assures his friends that this is only part of a long conclusion, the “thing of goodness” may be more addictive than he expects.

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It’s an emotional core to the quick and loose jokes in “The Bad Guys,” thanks in large part to Rockwell’s soulful vocal performance. He sells Mr. Wolf as both a daring career criminal and a vulnerable guy with hidden hopes and dreams. And that brings a dose of heart to the film, whether Wolf jokes with his old friend Snake, flirts with the self-obsessed governor Diane Foxington (Zazie Beetz) or gently rescues a cat from a tree.

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(from left) Diane Foxington (Zazie Beetz) and Wolf (Sam Rockwell) in DreamWorks Animation’s The Bad Guys, directed by Pierre Perifel.

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See “The Bad Guys” for: A new look from DreamWorks

The other big business card for “The Bad Guys” is the stylized look championed by the animator who became director Perifel. Following in the footsteps of recent off-the-beaten-path animated films such as “Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse” and “The Mitchells vs. the Machines”, “The Bad Guys” challenges the standard CG style. for children’s entertainment. Instead, Perifel incorporates elements of traditional hand-drawn animation to give the world a whole new sense of depth and perspective.

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For example, while the characters’ bodies are 3D, their eyes have an old-fashioned 2D look that goes back to Hanna-Barbera or “Looney Tunes” comics. The action sequences have meanwhile been inspired as much by the kinetics of Japanese anime as by live-action crime thrillers. And although the entire film is animated, its mix of man-made animals and ordinary human characters is reminiscent of the mixed media effect of “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” – all elements that give the film a pleasant original aesthetic that complements the more famous beats in the film. evil-turn-good story.

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(from left) Snake (Marc Maron) and Wolf (Sam Rockwell) in DreamWorks Animations The Bad Guys, directed by Pierre Perifel.

“The Bad Guys” falls a little too in love with action movie tropes in its second half, sacrificing the depth of its emotional themes for a more messy, plot-heavy event. (Of the Bad Guys team, only Wolf and Snake feel like fully developed characters.) But if “The Bad Guys” doesn’t make it to the top of the animated class, it’s still a fun time at the movies – and a strong calling short for Perifel as animation director to watch.

Grade: B

Rated PG. 100 minutes. Director: Pierre Perifel. With: Sam Rockwell, Marc Maron, Craig RobinsonAnthony Ramos, Awkwafina, Richard AyoadeZazie Beetz, Lilly Singh, Alex Borstein. Now streaming on Peacock.

About the author: Caroline Siede is a film and TV critic in Chicago, where the cold never bothers her anyway. As a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association, she spent four years lovingly analyzing the romantic comedy genre one film at a time in the When Romance Met Comedy column for AV Club. She also hosts the film podcast, Role calland shares pop culture opinions on Twitter (@carolinesiede).

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Stories about a Robin Hood in fifth grade (2021): Jon Lovitz makes a bit of a whirlwind (metaphorically speaking) in this back-to-school comedy that centers on a child (Chase Brown) at an underfunded city high school and his fight against his ill-fated vice-principal (Lovitz). “Tales of a Fifth Grade Robin Hood” is one Tubi Original. Rated TV-PG. 84 minutes. Directed by: Dylan Vox. With too Stephen Kramer GlickmanIliana Isabella Perez, Jayden Scala.

Where is “The Bad Guys” streamed?

“The Bad Guys” is now streaming on Peacock for premium membership subscribers ($ 6.99 / month, $ 49.99 / year). It is also available for purchase through various VOD (Video On Demand) services.

About Tubi: Tubi has more than 35,000 movies and TV series from over 250 content partners, including all major studios, in addition to the largest offering of free live local and national streaming news channels. The platform gives fans of entertainment, news and sports an easy way to discover new content that is available for free.

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