In Review

Film review: The Bad Guys

Attractively animated crime caper for children

A “swish, animated yarn” about a gang of criminal animals in LA, DreamWorks’ latest is like a “U-rated Reservoir Dogs” with a bit of Ocean’s Eleven and a twist of Dostoevsky thrown in, said Ed Potton in The Times. Adapted from Aaron Blabey’s graphic novels, it features a voice cast including Sam Rockwell, channelling George Clooney as the gang’s suave leader Mr Wolf, the comedian Marc Maron as the “sardonic, safe-cracking” Mr Snake, and Awkwafina as expert hacker Ms Tarantula (aka “Mata Hairy”). 

At first, the gangsters provide “a great advertisement for criminal misbehaviour”, pulling off show-stopping heists and making effortless getaways “while nodding along in unison to Daniel Pemberton’s ghetto-fabulous soundtrack”. But when they are caught red handed during a particularly daring raid, they must submit to a rehabilitation scheme run by guinea pig philanthropist Professor Marmalade (Richard Ayoade). Then Mr Wolf “discovers the lure of the straight and narrow” while doing a good deed for an old lady, and the real trouble begins. 

The Bad Guys is “cheery and diverting”, said Guy Lodge in Variety. But its villains, “while fun to hang out with”, are not “all that easy to care about”, and the dialogue isn’t as “nifty” as it could be. Screenwriter Etan Cohen resorts to “easy single-generation laughs”, said Robbie Collin in The Daily Telegraph: “Clooney jokes for the parents, green clouds of flatulence for the kids”. But on the plus side, The Bad Guys is appealing to look at, with a more cartoonish, hand-drawn feel than is customary in digitally animated feature films. “As easy Easter holiday fun, it meets the brief.”

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