The Bad Guys ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 1/2 Review by Andrea Carnevali
Several reformed yet misunderstood criminal animals attempt to become good, with some disastrous results along the way. Out in the cinema this weekend.
Not every animated film needs to be a life affirming experience, nor does it necessarily need to have any deep, profound or meaningful metaphor underneath. And of course it doesn’t have to break any ground with new technical achievement. In other words, not every animated film can be made by Pixar or Miyazaki.
Sometimes it’s OK to have something that is just mindless fun, pure entertainment and… with lots of fart gags!
Based on children’s book series by Australian author Aaron Blabey and riffing on the heist-movie genre, The Bad Guys follows a band of bank robbers, Mr. Wolf, Mr. Piranha, Mr. Snake, Mr. Shark, and Ms. Tarantula, all of whom look like they could be straight out of one of the Oceans films.
After a heist gone wrong, they’re sent to prison. In an effort to avoid doing time behind bars, they’re forced to turn good … or at least pretend to, until the next con.
French animator director Pierre Perifel, channels a ‘70s vibe both in the soundtrack and the visuals, arcing back to the old Hanna-Barbera cartoons and taking inspiration from those classic car chases from films like Bullit or Gone in 60 seconds and even The Blues Brothers.
It is an incredibly fast-paced film, with never a dull moment. Occasionally it risks drifting into complete chaos (the final chase, for example, is a bit over-the-top), but it’s beautifully constructed, never confusing and often even surprisingly clever.
The film might not offer that emotional layer we’ve grown to appreciate in the post Pixar-era and in some of the most recent animated films, but what it lacks in depth and subtlety, is certainly compensated for by the kinetic frenzy and the exuberant sense of fun.
It’ll also keep you guessing thorough a series of (mostly) unexpected twists and turns right to the end credits (In fact, make sure you stick around for the epilogue).
All of that is then topped up by a great voice cast, with names like Marc Maron, Anthony Ramos, Craig Robinson, Awkwafina, Richard Ayoade and led by lead by Sam Rockwell as Mr. Wolf, who oozes coolness and swagger to shame even George Clooney’s Oceans character. They may be voicing “bad guys”, but there’s certainly not a bad performance among them.
I went in, taking my son and his friends, expecting the worst, and we all left the packed Chiswick Cinema with big smiles on our faces.
A pleasant surprise!
Andrea Carnevali is a Bafta winning film maker who lives in Chiswick.
The Bad Guys is out in cinemas now.
See all Andrea’s film reviews here: Film reviews by Andrea Carnevali
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