A Fun Lesson About Stereotypes



An elite crew of stereotypical villains learn the value of good deeds in a fun and clever CGI adventure. Based on the popular children’s books by Aaron Blabey, The Bad Guys will have audiences howling with laughter from start to finish. Slick animation, toe-tapping music, and a thoughtful narrative teaches youngsters not to judge a book by its cover. And that meaningful change is possible with hard work. You’ll also never look at Guinea pigs the same way again. Never underestimate a determined rodent.

The Bad Guys relish their status as the crème de la crème of thievery. Ms. Tarantula (Awkwafina) is a computer expert that handles all electronics. Mr. Shark (Craig Robinson) can infiltrate any location as a master of disguise. The hot-tempered and flatulent Mr. Piranha (Anthony Ramos) may be small but brings big muscle. The cranky Mr. Snake (Marc Maron) can crack any safe. And last but certainly not least, the gang’s leader, Mr. Wolf (Sam Rockwell), is a dashing pickpocket who dreams of the greatest heist. He wants to steal the Golden Dolphin trophy. Given by Governor Diane Foxington (Zazie Beetz) to the city’s best citizen.

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Professor Marmalade (Richard Ayoade), a kindhearted Guinea pig and bastion of selflessness, is this year’s recipient of the Golden Dolphin. He rallied the city after a peculiar meteorite crashed and caused a giant crater. The Bad Guys’ elaborate heist plan runs into an unexpected hitch. Misty Luggins (Alex Borstein), the frazzled police chief, finally has the kleptomaniac critters in her clutches. But to everyone’s surprise, Mr. Wolf appeals to the city’s good nature for another chance. They’ve been branded as criminals their entire lives. Surely they deserve a chance for rehabilitation. Professor Marmalade believes he’s the rodent that can change their stripes.

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The Bad Guys and Traditional Antagonists

The Bad Guys is the latest animated film to turn the tables on traditional antagonists. This time around there’s established merit to the storyline. The wolf is the standard fairy tale scoundrel. Spiders, sharks, and snakes have long been depicted as dangerous. They’re feared, mistrusted, and subjugated. The Bad Guys are simply fulfilling their expected roles. Why try to be different when you’re always judged by your looks. The film makes a salient point about the nature of prejudice. And acknowledges that those lumped into an unfair stereotype have a steeper hill to climb to prove they’re different.

The Bad Guys stylistically references the zaniness of classic Looney Tunes cartoons. The animation isn’t overly detailed. Misty Luggins reminded me of the hapless Yosemite Sam and Wile E. Coyote chasing their targets to no avail. The characters have facial features and a muted color palette that looks hand-drawn. This gives the film a bubbly and energetic feel. The filmmakers went for a simpler look to carry the plot. It works because your eyes aren’t focused on ultra-realistic CGI.

The film has a few surprises that ramp up the entertainment value. You definitely don’t see every twist coming. I giggled like a schoolboy at a hilarious gag that shrewdly gestates from the beginning. The sharp soundtrack and score is also well-done. The Bad Guys will be a hit for all ages. Guinea pigs may have some issues.

The Bad Guys is a production of DreamWorks Animation and Scholastic Entertainment. It will be released theatrically on April 22nd from Universal Pictures.

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Julian Roman
(1512 Articles Published)

Julian Roman has been with Movieweb for nearly twenty years. An avid film buff, he feels lucky to have interviewed and written extensively about Hollywood’s greatest talents. In his spare time he plays guitar, treasures good company, and always seeks new adventures.

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