DreamWorks Animation has been a largely hit-or-miss studio over the years, but I was hopeful for this new project. When I first saw the trailer for “The Bad Guys,” the sheer dynamics of its 3D yet cartoony style was enough to rocket it up to my most anticipated film of the year after “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” was delayed.
As a big fan of animated movies, I absolutely love the blending of different animation techniques as a way to add action and movement to scenes. In particular, the car chases really stood out as a splash of unique movement in an otherwise grounded setting.
Is a lot of it ridiculous? Of course! But it’s pure fun, and the creativity of the team behind the movie really shines through.
The visuals of “The Bad Guys” are undoubtedly its strongest asset, but the generally lighthearted plot is sufficiently engaging as well. The gang of animal “bad guys” is captured when trying to pull off the biggest heist of their lives, resorting to a deal that they’ll be allowed to walk free if they can successfully be converted into going good. Though many found the plot predictable, the story draws from other heist movies as a tribute. I have little familiarity with that genre and found the twists and turns of the movie to be a wacky ride.
There’s a great variety in the character designs for the main anthropomorphic cast, ranging from a tiny tarantula that’s hard to spot in most scenes to a huge shark that tends to take up most of the frame. The characters themselves also have entertaining and diverse personalities.
Mr. Wolf is every bit the suave criminal Zootopia’s Nick Wilde was -— and more. Mr. Snake (yes, very creative name) keeps a cynical exterior but has a soft spot for his friends. Though the other members of the group are less significant, they get their amusing moments.
Additionally, this movie is funny. Sure, you get the classic fart jokes that seem obligatory for animated movies aimed at children now, but small things like character reactions and completely illogical happenings made it clear you weren’t supposed to be taking everything too seriously. The voice cast of celebrities killed their delivery and managed to get laughs out of the parents in the theater.
As someone who is decidedly not a child and who never read the original books, I still found “The Bad Guys” to be thoroughly entertaining. I’d love to see the cast return in some form, whether that means a sequel or a TV show for one of the many streaming services.