The Bad Guys: Not So That Bad After All

Dreamworks’ newest film Bad Guys, is the beginning of  animation’s comeback to cinemas after being largely relegated to streaming services for the past two years. This film is the first fully animated movie to be widely released in theaters in the US since Encanto in 2021. 

 Based on the book series written by Aaron Blabey,  Bad Guys follows a notorious gang of criminals known as “The Bad Guys.” The members Wolf, Shark, Snake, Piranha, and Ms. Tarantula attempt to change society’s perception of them as dangerous animals by doing acts of good. The movie’s premise can be seen as pretty basic for a kids movie, and in some ways it is. What sets this movie apart from other animated films are the characters and the animation. 

The majority of characters in Bad Guys have strong character traits and distinct personalities, complemented by their styled and exaggerated designs. Despite the film definitely playing favorites with screen time, each member of the gang and supporting characters are allowed enough time to make them stand out from each other.

Even with how well defined and likable the characters in this movie are, the main selling point is the absolutely incredible animation. Stylized 3-D movies are nothing new. Indeed, there have been many examples in the past few years. Mitchells vs the Machines and Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse are a few prominent examples..  However, very few of them can match the extreme expressions and soft storybook style Bad Guys has. The creativity and art direction make a film that feels like somebody’s sketchbook given motion. It’s difficult to explain how or why Bad Guys gets animation so right, because it fully encapsulates the power animation has as a creative medium. 

I can gush about the incredible animation in this movie for hours, but I can admit that it isn’t perfect. As many Disney simps online have said, this movie’s basic premise does resemble that of Zootopia (2016). Let’s pretend the books didn’t come first. Bad Guys arguably handles the subject of prejudice and social discrimination in a much more subtle way. It doesn’t need to give a heavy-handed metaphor for racism dumbed down for trigger-happy parents. 

Unfortunately, both movies suffer from the overused and unsurprising twist villain trope, but it’s ironically predictable enough for even kids to predict it. Despite that, Bad Guys is still a by-the-books heist movie made appropriate for kids. Don’t think about worldbuilding in this movie, it’s all over the place. Most people in this movie are regular humans, but the main characters are mostly animals. Sure, they’re intelligent animals, but it’s kind of hard for an intelligent guinea pig controlling regular, animalistic guinea pigs. If that sort of thing bothers you, try to ignore an eight-foot tall shark wearing comical disguises and nobody notices he’s a massive shark. Oh yeah, fish can walk around on land too. Don’t think about it.

Overall, Bad Guys is an enjoyable heist movie. While not as good as Dreamworks’ best, it’s still a very good movie and definitely deserves a watch. This movie is a hundred times better than Sing (2016) or Sing 2 (2021), this is not a contest. Go watch this movie if you like animation or a good heist movie. I promise, this movie isn’t just for furries. 

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