The Bad Guys is a family friendly twist on a classic caper. At this point I can never guess what DreamWorks Animation will do next. They’ve cancelled so many projects that I wondered why they greenlit something like The Bad Guys. It looked so childish and cartoony, but looks are deceiving. The Bad Guys is actually based on an even more stylized book series. The story follows stereotypically bad anthropomorphic animals who attempt to be good guys. The Bad Guys include Mr. Wolf, Mr. Snake, Mr. Shark, Mr. Piranha, and Mr. Tarantula. It’s simple, but the movie is a clever parody of heist flicks. Even though kids probably won’t understand the references to the Ocean’s trilogy or Pulp Fiction.
As soon as I saw the trailer, I knew the art style was trying to emulate Into the Spider-Verse. The mix of hand drawn and computer animation is unique and the lighting does have the heist feel. Anime was also referenced, but the characters look as kid friendly as possible. The cast includes Sam Rockwell as the sly leader of the Bad Guys, Mr. Wolf. Marc Maron is the grumpy second-in-command Mr. Snake. Craig Robinson is the goofy master of disguise Mr. Shark. Anthony Ramos is the short-tempered muscle Mr. Piranha. Though male in the book, Awkwafina joins another heist crew as the obnoxious Ms. Tarantula, affectionately nicknamed Webs. Their banter can be funny, but excessive fart jokes hold them back.
Only the main characters are animals. Lois Griffin herself Alex Borstein voices the human police chief obsessed with taking the Bad Guys down and YouTuber Lilly Singh voices a clueless news reporter. Meanwhile, Zazie Beetz voices the fox governor Diane Foxington who denounces the Bad Guys, but has more in common with them than she lets on. Richard Ayoade voices the British guinea pig Professor Marmalade who represents the stereotypical good guy. When a plot to steal the Golden Dolphin award goes wrong, Marmalade suggests turning them good. Mr. Wolf starts to like being good, but Mr. Snake is the biggest hold out. There is a twist that’s easy to figure out and a climax that includes a meteor and mind control. Luckily The Bad Guys is good enough to pull it off.