From the outside looking in, The Bad Guys might be about bad guys but there’s a redemption story at the core of the film.
Is there some sort of clause in Sam Rockwell’s contract where he is required to play characters with a redemption story? We’ve seen this so far in a few films now. Mind you, it’s been a few years since the last redemption story starring Rockwell. Maybe it’s the whole animation thing we’ve got going on but this film finds a way to win you over.
What we have are five animal outlaws who–like it or not–start their path towards becoming model citizens. The crew is led by Mr. Wolf (Sam Rockwell). He’s joined by Mr. Snake (Marc Maron), Mr. Shark (Craig Robinson), Mr. Piranha (Anthony Ramos), and Ms. Tarantula (Awkwafina), aka “Webs.” Like most crews, they all have their specialties. Anyway, they finally get caught and in order to avoid prison time, Mr. Wolf makes an agreement that they’ll turn good. Of course, his original intentions are to not keep the agreement. You’ll have to see what happens but again, this film wins us over. While all this is going on, Mr. Wolf has his eye on Governor Diane Foxington (Zazie Beetz).
Professor Marmalade (Richard Ayoade) is quite the model citizen but the guinea pig sets out to teach them right from wrong. There comes a point in this mentorship–if that’s the right word–where Mr. Wolf believes that he’s society is finally starting to like him. But right when you think that’s the case, things change and the city turns on them. Can they do good even if it goes against their own past?
This is a different kind of heist comedy than we’ve seen in previous years. Pierre Perifel and Etan Cohen bring the right level of energy that this film needs. Plus, you can’t go wrong with a show-stopping number but I’ll get to that in a few. If this is what the future looks like for DreamWorks Animation, please count me in! I’m not saying all films have to draw on Steven Soderbergh, Guy Ritchie, and Quentin Tarantino but this is one of the most stylish films I’ve seen in 2022. Everything about it is just beautiful.
Like Mike Rianda last year, this is also a feature directorial debut for Pierre Perifel. Tropic Thunder‘s Etan Cohen pens the script, setting him on his own redemption story because he is the filmmaker behind 2018’s worst movie of the year. Obviously, Cohen’s redemption isn’t the same type as bad guys going good. His script adapts Aaron Blabey’s book series–taking elements from the first four books. Let’s hope there’s some available elements for the inevitable sequel. With the way the film ends, you can’t help but think that there’s some potential here. I mean, families are going to enjoy it. If they don’t see it in theaters, they’ll definitely be watching on Peacock or Netflix!
You can never go wrong with Daniel Pemberton as a composer for your film. This time around, he also gives us a new song, “Good Tonight,” sung by In the Heights star Anthony Ramos. We’ll have to see what the rest of the year looks like but this show-stopper is a contender for Best Original Song.
As Covid starts making waves again, The Bad Guys will be available on Peacock starting 45 days after its April 22 release. The Netflix debut will come some four months after that. If you’re comfortable enough watching in a theater, you’re sure to have a great time.
The Bad Guys elevates DreamWorks Animation to a new level and the film is in the running for the best animated film of the year.
DIRECTOR: Pierre Perifel
SCREENWRITER: Etan Cohen
CAST: Sam Rockwell, Marc Maron, Craig Robinson, Anthony Ramos, Awkwafina, Richard Ayoade, Zazie Beetz, Lilly Singh, Alex Borstein
Universal will release The Bad Guys in theaters on April 22, 2022. Grade: 4/5
Please subscribe to Solzy at the Movies on Substack.