A movie that will stand firm in my memory more for the fact that it’s the first one my daughter saw in theaters than its own merits, The Bad Guys is an entertaining if slight animated family film about a pack of bad animals who, after being arrested, are given one final chance to turn good before they are shipped off to prison for years.
Featuring a clever animation style that quasi-merges CGI with traditional art, The Bad Guys has a fun premise and a cast of enjoyably murky characters (a wolf, a snake, a spider, a shark, and a piranha that farts gnarly farts–oh, and an evil guinea pig) that present enough in-jokes to appeal to parents and plenty of fast-paced action and antics for kids.
The Bad Guys, by nature, presents a more morally gray story than most kid’s fare, as bad guys become good guys, good guys become bad guys, and most linger somewhere in the middle, doing what’s best for themselves in most cases. It has the kind of plot you would expect from an Ed Burns crime thriller in the early 00’s.
Despite all its positives, the movie does lose steam as it progresses. While my child remained focused for most of the film, she didn’t walk out of the theater buzzing about it in the same way she has other animated films; some of the story and shifting allegiances likely went over her head, which is fine, but even my wife admitted she lost interest after a while. The Bad Guys gets a little too caught up in plot mechanics and loses sight of raw entertainment value, though the end result is hardly a miss.
Though far from an animated classic, The Bad Guys offers some creative visuals, zany characters, and a largely immersive plot–even if the filmmakers aren’t able to fully capitalize on the synergy of those elements.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.