Friday Film Review--"The Bad Guys"
This week’s film is The Bad Guys, a new DreamWorks computer animated feature based upon the NYTs bestselling graphic novel series by Aaron Blabey. Best described as part Zootopia and part Ocean’s 11, The Bad Guys is a heist film with a heart. The box office responded overwhelmingly supportive as the film surpassed all opening weekend projections and surprisingly took the #1 spot last week in a very competitive field.
The film is set in Los Angeles where humans and animals co-exist. A gang of thieves led by Mr. Wolf and Snake seem to rob banks at will and gleefully over-indulge in their superiority over the local PD. But when a new Governor calls the gang out as has-beens, the gang takes on one last high-risk caper to stake their claim as the most treacherous criminal gang of all time. Of course, the heist doesn’t go as planned and a big plot twist has our bad guys having to turn into good guys in order to escape getting framed for a crime they didn’t commit.
Animator Pierre Perifel makes the leap to the director’s chair for his feature film debut and steadily guides the story through a frenetic pace of elaborate, high-tech heists while maintaining earnest dialogue that establishes sincere connections between the characters. In a tribute to Quentin Tarantino, Perifel opens the film with the longest animated single take sequence in Dreamworks history. Call it the family version of Pulp Fiction’s diner scene.
From there, a solid ensemble voice cast led by Sam Rockwell, Mark Maron, Awkwafina, and Craig Robinson rollick amidst politicians, high society donors and musicians while dodging the police at every turn. English composer Daniel Pemberton follows his success with Spider-man: Into the Spider-verse to package music and an original score which elevate the emotional intensity of every scene.
So, on my ski trail rating system, The Bad Guys earns my intermediate Blue Square rating. While the script doesn’t quite deliver the zingers we’ve come to expect from a Dreamworks production, the film’s outstanding visuals, heartfelt friendships, and fun action sequences yield a solid family offering. Positive messages for our smaller film lovers include the value of true friendship and the power of putting the needs of others over our own. And in the end, the tail wagging the dog isn’t a bad thing.
The Bad Guys is rated PG for action, crude humor and zombie guinea pigs.