There have been so many great animated films recently that it’s going to get harder for studios to do amazing things. Our standards have changed and certain studios just keep getting better. So it must be tricky coming up with new concepts that offer the same emotional, visual and irrational punch that we’ve become used to. The Bad Guys had the potential to be a lot of fun but did it have enough to be unforgettable? My initial thoughts after seeing the trailer were no but it was still worth taking a look.
The idea that the villains are more interesting isn’t a new one. I mean everyone knows that bad guys have more fun, right? So an animated film about a group of bad guys isn’t exactly revolutionary. Would it be enjoyable though? The films seemed to be following the current trend for stylised animation rather than realism. Following on from previous animated films like Into The Spide-Verse and Red. I know a lot of people aren’t fans of this approach but I love it. It has a traditional almost handmade feel to it and is a bold alternative to the Disney Pixar stuff we’ve been so used to.
In terms of story, The Bad Guys takes fewer risks. The film is loosely based on the book series by Aaron Blabey. It’s like a mixture of Ocean’s 11 and My Fair Lady as we see a group of con artists learn how to be good guys. After they are caught trying to pull off a tricky heist, the gang is taken in by a local good guy, Professor Marmalade. He takes them under his wing and trains them in the art of being good. The only problem is, the group has no intention of changing its ways. Instead, it’s all part of their plan to steal a valuable award. But will they actually learn that being good has its positives?
If I’m honest, I’m not a fan of fictional worlds that see humans coexisting with anthropomorphised animals. It just begs a lot of questions. However, I can’t see any of the younger audience members being that bothered about the logistics of it all. Although judging by the reaction from the furry community, some older members are putting a bit too much thought into certain aspects of it. Regardless, the fictional world isn’t exactly fleshed out as there is a definite lack of world-building. Again, I doubt that this will really bother any of the kids watching but it shows a lack of effort from Dreamworks that they didn’t think about their older viewers.
The same can be said for the moral of the story, which isn’t exactly groundbreaking or well showcased. There’s a general being good is a great thing and something about friendship. However, it’s clear that the moral isn’t the important thing here. It’s mostly about watching a wolf, snake, shark, piranha and a spider commit crimes. None of the revelations are that shocking if you’ve watched any film before, which I guess means the intended audience will possibly love it.
The Bad Guys isn’t all bad though. The voice acting is enjoyable and all of the characters seem well cast. I will also get on board with any films that showcase the talents of Richard Ayoade, especially one that casts him as a guinea pig. Although, a lot of them do seem to be a bit derivative of their previous roles. This is nothing new or original. There’s never any suggestion that the film is trying to do anything to stand out. Instead, it’s a solid and fun film for children to enjoy. It won’t be the most memorable animated film that you’ve seen in recent years but it won’t be the worst by a long way.