Forewarning: It is impossible to think too much about this movie and its title without getting that Billie Eilish song stuck in your head for days on end. If that is an experience that sounds unpleasant to you, now would be a good time to stop reading.
A Uniquely Styled Crowdpleaser
The Bad Guys, the new film from Dreamworks Animation, is a thoroughly entertaining film for the whole family. A group of misunderstood animals (the type that people are generally scared of – wolf, piranha, spider, snake, and shark) form a group of criminals. After getting caught in the biggest heist of their careers, they are given a second chance to become good.
First and foremost, the thing I want to praise about The Bad Guys is its animation. The film is depicted in a mix of 2D and 3D animation that is genuinely stunning to look at. It’s such an interesting visual style that gives the story and its characters a unique flair that had me rooting for it from the time I saw its trailer. It’s a style that is not used as often as it should be but every time it is, it makes for a special kind of film.
Voices That Make a Difference
To add to the pros this movie has going for it, is the voice cast. A growing trend in animation for the last decade or so, has been putting big names behind the voices. It can be an easy way for adults to connect to the stories as easily as their kids do. An unfortunate result is the lack of care that goes into the work. Some movies have recognizable names that seemingly show up, read the script, get paid, and go on to their next live-action project. This, opposed to animation-specific actors, who add so much depth and nuance to their characters with only their voices.
The Bad Guys is a nice example of when big names can pull off voicework. Sam Rockwell as the lead character, Wolf, is a shining star. Despite being known for his live-action work, which has garnered him an Oscar, he brings some depth to this role. His character being seen as a schemer, Rockwell is able to channel his inner used car salesman to sell it. Additionally, as Wolf experiences a crisis of sorts, you can hear the inner confusion in Rockwell’s voice.
The rest of the voice cast is good, though not quite on Rockwell’s level. Admittedly, Rockwell has more material to flex his acting muscles with. Marc Maron, Awkwafina, Craig Robinson, and Anthony Ramos each get their share of laughs rounding out the Bad Guy crew.
Dreamworks is not as consistent of an animation studio as Pixar but it has produced its share of hits over the years. Recently, it has been overrun by trolls and boss babies. The Bad Guys proves that the studio still has it in them to make compelling work, that is both clever and pleasing to watch. I hope that this is not the last we have seen of this animation style from Dreamworks, as it paid off in spades here.
The Guys may be Bad but this movie is definitely good!