NEW TO THEATERS! Jessica Rabbit once said, “I’m not bad. I’m just drawn that way.” Lesson learned in Pierre Perifel’s animated feature, The Bad Guys. The guys in question are a group of thieving animals in the middle of a crime spree and terrorizing the city. The group consists of Wolf (Sam Rockwell), Snake (Marc Maron), Tarantula (Awkwafina), Shark (Craig Robinson), and Piranha (Anthony Ramos).
After the heist, Wolf is shaken by the governor’s commentary, Diane Foxington (Zazie Beetz), who minimizes his criminal talent. In retaliation, Wolf plans the heist of all heists. The target is the priceless dolphin award to be presented by the governor to Professor Marmalade (Richard Ayoade), a guinea pig, for his study of a heart-shaped meteor and his dedication to kindness. During the caper, Wolf inadvertently saves the life of an old woman, and when she thanks him, Wolf’s tail begins to wag (oops, foreshadowing). The wagging incident causes Wolf’s plan to fail, and the crew is arrested by Police Chief Misty Luggins (Alex Borstein).
Seeing an opportunity, Dr. Marmalade believes he can rehabilitate the criminals and turn The Bad Guys into The Good Guys. But, of course, you can’t teach a dog new tricks, so Marmalade’s rehabilitation doesn’t go according to plan. Let’s also mention that Wolf has a more extensive, nefarious plan brewing. Yet, problems arise from Wolf’s damn tail wagging.
“…Wolf plans the heist of all heists. The target is the priceless dolphin award…”
Let me start with the animation. It’s absolutely gorgeous, especially considering the entire narrative takes place in the big city. Unlike your traditional 3D animated features, the overall style has a painted, almost watercolor feel, while hand-drawn lines outline eyes, nostrils, and mouths. Pierre Perfiel’s direction and visual style immediately set The Bad Guys apart from other big studio productions.
Now about the city. The story takes place in Los Angeles, and I can’t think of a single other animated feature inspired by the City of Angels. Though it’s never clearly stated in the story, the visual cues will feel very familiar if you’ve ever lived in Downtown L.A., Hollywood, or the Valley.
There’s also an absurdity to the plot. The main characters are animals, while everyone else is human. How does this work? Why? I don’t care. Starting with Sam Rockwell and moving all the way down to Zazie Beetz, the casting is perfect. Each character has a distinct personality and set of criminal skills while finding a lovable portion within them destined to sell overpriced plushes.
The Bad Guys is a film that will appeal to both children and their parents. Though there are a lot of similarities between this and Zootopia, the message of using your “bad” skills for “good” is hammered home. It’s funny, fast-paced, and just plain fun. There was a lot of giggling in my theater.
"…the animation. It's absolutely gorgeous..."