The Bad Guys is an exceptionally well-done movie is exceptionally well done movie from DreamWorks Animation, taking classic tropes from heist movies and themes from kids’ movies and mixing them together in one adrenaline-fueled animated film. It focuses on a group of criminals and friends as they attempt to pull off their biggest heist yet. There are many reasons why this movie should be watched if you happened to miss it, and fortunately it’s now streaming on Netflix.
The Bad Guys and Classic Movie Tropes
The movie’s opening scene is extremely well done. Two characters, a wolf in a suit and a snake in a Hawaiian shirt, sit in a café, casually talking and having breakfast. It seems like a light-hearted scene until they get up to leave, and everyone hides from them, afraid. They act casually like nothing is out of the ordinary. This scene hooks the viewer in immediately.
Not only does this grab the reader’s attention, but the design is highly accurate to heist franchises (even paying homage to the opening diner scene in Pulp Fiction and the character names in Reservoir Dogs). The clothing matched their personalities, and the concept of the “bad” animals simply doing what they’re good at (being bad) falls into a similar backstory for many other heist movie characters.
They then rob a bank and have an exaggerated car chase where the rest of their team is introduced based on their unique skills, another trope in the heist movie genre. Throughout the first half of the movie, the animation is aesthetically designed to like a heist movie, with similar music and classic cinematic clichés of the genre, such as split-screen and the long unedited sequences where something is passed along through the group in secret.
The Bad Guys’ Redemption Arc
But, the movie takes a turn. Once the bad guys get caught, it is not just a heist movie anymore; it’s a redemption story. When Wolf attempts to keep them out of jail while still pulling off their biggest heist, he lands them at a wealthy philanthropist’s house to turn the “bad guys” into “good guys.” The ploy works on Wolf, though, when he slowly starts liking the feeling of being good.
The rest of the crew gets redemption by doing good instead of bad at different times throughout the film, with Wolf leading them in the right direction. It’s a charming tale of discovering that there is more to yourself than what others tell you, and that everyone can be good if given a chance.
Bad Guys Have Romantic Interests, Too
One of the reasons for Wolf’s change to goodness is the apparent romantic tension between Wolf and Mayor Diane, which starts at the beginning of the film and continues throughout. They understand each other because of their pasts, allowing them to have meaningful conversations other than flirting to show a romantic connection.
This plot point adds character to Wolf’s likability, as he has a more open outlook on life when discussing with the mayor compared to his friends. Their conversations shed light on different perspectives on discrimination and how to handle it.
Great DreamWorks Animation
The animation for this movie is exceptionally well done. It’s very smooth and crafted to fit the style of the film’s genre. The film leaps at the chance to use classic animation tropes such as suspended air time and exaggerated movements, and nails the parodies. The design is beautiful, and all the details in shading, colors, and textures are stunning.
The animation works well with the animal/human society that this film portrays. They make each seem as realistic as possible while keeping the animation clean and children friendly. The mentioned classic animation gags, mixed with current animation technology, allows for an animated movie that won’t go out of style.
Interesting Characters and Fantastic Casting
While the snake and wolf are the main friends that The Bad Guys focuses on, the entirety of their crew is full of interesting personalities. We see them start as classic criminal characters before turning into a more tight-knit friend group throughout the movie. The chemistry between the characters and the banter adds an added layer of enjoyment to this film.
With a cast starring Sam Rockwell, Awkwafina, Anthony Ramos, Marc Maron, and many others, it’s no wonder the movie got excellent ratings on sites like Rotten Tomatoes. The voice actors fit the characters and keep you in a world of believability despite the exaggerated animation and anthropomorphic characters; they always feel like actual characters with multifaceted personalities, not just talking cartoon animals.
Children’s Movie Themes Done Well
In The Bad Guys, it’s appropriate that you will wonder who is the good guy and who is the bad guy, and where the line is drawn. This is perhaps the main message of the film, that there is no absolute ‘bad guy’ or ‘good guy,’ at least not while there’s still a chance to change. Throughout the film, these characters go from bad to good to bad and back again, and the supposedly ‘good’ guys — well, not everyone is as good as they seem to be; in fact, most turn out to have more going on behind the scenes. It makes for a compelling series of plot twists.
Another common trope in kids’ movies is the power of friendship, which always prevails with the message that if you put your friends’ needs first and be there for them, everything will work out for you both. In this movie, the wolf and snake both have realizations about their friendship that sometimes drive them apart, but in the end, they realize nothing is more important.