‘The Bad Guys’ Review: Clever Animated Adventure Gives Good Lines to Its Animated Animals
In the first two minutes of the parody of the retro-cool and warm animated crime thriller “The Bad Guys”, we can say that we are going to experience something original and refreshing, because these two minutes (and the change) consist of a single, uninterrupted shot in a dinner party that’s a clear homage to the “Pulp Fiction” prologue, and how about that.
In this anthropomorphic version of Los Angeles, a wolf named Mr. Wolf (Sam Rockwell) and a snake named Mr. Snake (Marc Maron) are in a booth and dressed as nerdy tourists as Mr. Wolf berates Mr. Snake for having refused to participate. in a birthday cake.
“Name one food better than cake,” says Wolf.
“Guinea pig,” Mr. Snake replies, and they might as well debate the merits of pork a la Jules and Vincent in “Pulp.” The two old friends casually exit the restaurant and walk from one bank to another in a long line of robberies, and we’re off on this clever, visually arresting and well-voiced adventure, with French animator Pierre Perifel making a feature film impressive. directorial debut in the adaptation of the children’s book series of the same name by Aaron Blabey.
Rockwell’s Mr. Wolf turns to the camera and calls closer as he lays out the plight of the Canis lupus, noting, “I’m the villain in every story”, as we see a montage of famous fairy tales, from “Little Red Riding Hood” to “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” to “The Three Little Pigs” to ” Pierre and the Wolf.” Mr. Wolf introduces us to his crew, made up of animals that are almost always, well, the bad guys in animations, including Mr. Snake and also:
- Ms. Tarantula (Awkwafina), a quick-witted tech expert.
- Mr. Piranha (Anthony Ramos), a fiery and unpredictable joker who is a little crazy.
- Mr. Shark (Craig Robinson), a master of deception who once stole the Mona Lisa while disguised as the Mona Lisa.
These are… the Reservoir Not-Dogs. These are… the bad guys.
Even as Governor Diane Foxington (Zazie Beetz) publicly derides The Bad Guys as yesterday’s news (“It’s really just has-beens. …I mean really, another bank?”), Mr. Wolf and the crew plan their most brazen heist yet, a robbery of the coveted Golden Dolphin Award at a lavish ceremony where “this year’s top citizen” will be honored. When the job goes awry and the bad guys are finally apprehended, famous philanthropist and adorably cute guinea pig Professor Rupert Marmalade (Richard Ayoade), who says that if there was a contest between him and Mother Teresa for the most good guy of all time, it would be a tie, volunteers to take custody of the bad guys in a social experiment to see if he can reform them.
Teacher. Marmalade: “They say experience is the best teacher, and they’re wrong. I am.”
The villains see this as an opportunity to rip off the world and pull off an even bigger heist, this time involving a meteor which is the ultimate power source, but there’s a twist, as it seems Mr. Wolf truly believed that a wolf doesn’t always have to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing and can actually turn out to be a good guy. This leads to a break in the ranks and some pretty neat twists and reveals, with the actors doing wonderful voice work while “The Bad Guys” serves up nods to classic crime films such as “To Live and Die in LA”. “Bullitt”, “The Italian Job”, “The Hot Rock” and “Snatch”, but above all “Ocean’s Eleven” by Steven Soderbergh and its sequels. When Mr. Wolf activates the spell, he is said to be “pulling a Clooney,” and the friendship between Mr. Wolf and his best friend Mr. Snake is reminiscent of the dynamic between Clooney and Pitt in the “Ocean’s” movies. Daniel Pemberton’s jazzy score and use of split-screen techniques showing the big heist from different vantage points only add to this highly entertaining tribute.
The animation combines computer-generated 2D and 3D with a look that will remind you of a Saturday morning cartoon, but much sharper and more dazzling. There’s nothing photorealistic about animation; it’s stylized and has a very specific definition of Heist Movie Los Angeles, with the sky so bright it’s almost overexposed, and yet it kind of creates a dark mood. It’s a gorgeous film with terrific performances, lovely messaging, and a steady parade of solid laughs – some the kids will enjoy and just as much aimed squarely at the adult child audiences.