Review: The Bad Guys – The Bad Guys (2022)


The Bad Guys – The Bad Guys (2022)

Directed by: Pierre Perifel | 100 minutes | animation, adventure | Dutch voice cast: Gijs Naber, Frank Lammers, Nasrdin Dchar, Giovanca Ostiana, Denise Aznam, Jody Bernal, Rayen Panday, Tara Hetharia | Original voice cast: Sam Rockwell, Marc Maron, Awkwafina, Craig Robinson, Anthony Ramos, Richard Ayoade, Zazie Beetz, Alex Borstein, Lilly Singh, Barbara Goodson, Dina Morrone, Michael Godere, Kelly Cooney, Walt Dohrn, David P. Smith, John Venzon, Jesse Averna

If you come across a wolf, a snake or a shark in a fairy tale or (children’s) book, you can bet that that character is the villain of the story. They are animals that are always hungry and prefer to take a bite from the protagonist of the story – or their grandmother. Traditionally, these animals have an image problem; they are always up to nefarious schemes. They should never be the hero. But what if these classic villains tried to make their lives better, would we embrace them en masse? Would that make them more ‘cuddly’? With that idea in mind, Australian writer and illustrator Aaron Blabey devised the graphic novel series ‘The Bad Guys’ in 2015, about five animals that are known as bad guys but try to improve their image (which usually doesn’t quite work out that way). unpacks if they would like). Fifteen parts have now been published and now there is also a first film about Mr. wolf, mr. shark, mr. snake, mr. Piranha and Mrs. Tarantula, who is simply called “The Bad Guys” (2022) and hails from the DreamWorks Animation stable.

The names of the main characters are the first of many nods to crime and heist films – in this case, of course, ‘Reservoir Dogs’ (1992). When we meet the five (they are introduced to us via stylized freeze frames) we immediately notice how clever (!) they work in carrying out their criminal activities. Pickpocketing, bank robberies; they don’t turn a blind eye to it. They are already profiled as bad guys anyway, so you might as well make a good job of it, they think. Led by the charming Mr. Wolf (coolly voiced by the fantastic Sam Rockwell), often referred to as “Clooney” for his endearment, they plot a major robbery of the Golden Dolphin, a prestigious award that recently-appointed Governor Diane Foxington (Zazie Beets ) to philanthropist Professor Rupert Marmalade IV (Richard Ayoade). But during the robbery it all goes wrong. While pickpocketing the party guests, Mr. Wolf accidentally becomes an old lady and is praised for that good deed. It completely upsets him, causing the theft to go wrong and the gang to be captured. If they decide to participate in a social experiment led by Professor Marmalade, they are allowed to roam free under certain conditions. mr. Wolf agrees, but under false pretense. Because a new robbery is planned, which is carried out as soon as they have won the trust of their environment. But meanwhile, the charities are piling up – Mr. Wolf even rescues a kitten from a tall tree – and an identity crisis looms. And there is especially Mr. Snake not happy about it.

While animation had to be as realistic as possible for years, in recent years you have seen a trend emerge that promotes more stylized and illustrated animation. The creators of ‘The Bad Guys’ took inspiration from Sony Pictures Animation’s ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ (2018) – 3D CGI that looks and feels like 2D. Debut director Pierre Perifel immediately sets the tone with a ‘Pulp Fiction’ (1994) inspired opening scene that, at two minutes, 25 seconds and seven frames, is the longest one-shot scene in DreamWorks Animation’s history. Stylistically, ‘The Bad Guys’ is a must, and that fine ‘heist atmosphere’ is further emphasized by the score by Daniel Pemberton and a soundtrack with music by, among others, The Black Keys and Chemical Brothers. In the original version, in addition to Rockwell, Beetz and Ayoade, we also hear the voices of Craig Robinson, Anthony Ramos, Marc Maron, Awkwafina and Alex Borstein, among others. The Dutch translation also has a fine voice cast, including Gijs Naber, Giovanca Ostiana, Rayen Panday and Elise Schaap.

From a technical point of view, there are a few things to criticize about ‘The Bad Guys’. on mr. Wolf, Diane and maybe Mr. Snake after, the characters are only poorly developed. Excited position Mr. Piranha is annoying with his fart jokes; luckily he has a modest peak in the song ‘Good Tonight’, in which Ramos can show his singing talents. In addition, there are also quite a few successful visual jokes, including the creative way in which Mr. Snake is handcuffed and a hypnotized guinea pig colony that same Mr. Snake has a hard time leaving it alone (guinea pig is his favorite snack). The countless references to other films – one subtle, the other unmissable – also capture our attention. This makes it less bad that the story develops in a rather predictable way and the film lacks a bit of the punch that you secretly hope for.

Despite its predictability, ‘The Bad Guys’ is an entertaining, beautifully made animated film that, thanks to the strong voice cast, visual humor and beautiful stylization, rises well above average. At a time when one sequel after another remake is being hurled into cinemas, this DreamWorks production is original and headstrong. Fortunately, Aaron Blabey has made fourteen more ‘Bad Guys’ novellas, so keep part two coming.

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