A few days before Dreamworks new animation movie “The Bad Guys” released, my daughter and I were invited to attend an advanced screening to review this bad boy.
And by the time we had gotten our invite, we had already seen the trailer at least a few times. So we were excited to watch “The Bad Guys” in theaters! After the let down that Fantastic Beasts 3 was, we were both eager to watch an entertaining, joyous, family film, and “The Bad Guys” looked promising.
So what did we think of this new animation film? Well … I’ll tell you what she thought in our family review over on our family site Popcorn and Tater Tots, but for now here’s my adult review of “The Bad Guys”.
“The Bad Guys” Review
Don’t worry, this is a spoiler free review, so if you haven’t seen “The Bad Guys” yet, keep reading … I won’t spoil the fun.
Listen … “The Bad Guys” starts off ‘bad’, but it ends up being really ‘good’ (literally).
The new family film is about a group of animal “criminals”, who are hated because of who they naturally are — what we humans call “scary” animals. And because they’ve already been deemed as “the bad guys”, they don’t see a life where it’s possible to live any other way.
So Mr. Wolf, Mr. Snake, Mr. Shark, Mr. Piranha, and Ms. Tarantula, succeed in doing the one thing everyone expects them to do — be bad!
The characters are played by Sam Rockwell, Marc Maron, Craig Robinson, Anthony Ramos, and Awkwafina, (ugh, yes, I know, Awkwafina, again) and are introduced in the first few minutes of the film, so we get to know them and how their “criminal minds” work.
Now, the first few minutes of any movie is crucial for me!
I can almost always tell if I’m going to love something (or completely hate it), within the first 10 to 30 mins.
I’m the exact same way with music, only it usually takes about 10 to 30 seconds.
Books too! (But pages, not chapters y’all. I won’t read more than one chapter if that first chapter doesn’t hook me.)
You see, it’s either I LOVE it, or I’m over it, and I’m ready to move on to something else.
Which is probably why watching “Little Women” in theaters made me wanna slink into my seat and die. It was painfully boring, and it felt like I was sitting there for hours and hours … and hours! Ugh! God I hope Greta does better with the new “Barbie” movie.
I don’t have time to sit here for hours just to get to the end and be disappointed!
(Been there, done that, a few times actually, *cough* “The Little Things“, starring Denzel Washington, also quickly comes to mind here.)
And I know that, this “need” for instant gratification and enjoyment is almost a disservice when you’re a “critic” (which is partially why I don’t claim to be one), but I just can’t y’all! I can’t sit still for two hours and pretend to like something, and suffer through it, just to say I made it to the finish line.
I can’t! And I won’t. I’d much rather walk away, and find something I do like.
So those first few minutes of “The Bad Guys” were incredibly disheartening for me.
Had I not been sitting in a theater, I probably would have turned it off and started something else!
So let us thank the gods and the heavens that I was NOT at home, because after that “first act” was over, this thing took off!
This plot literally went from bad to good, just like its characters.
And boy am I thankful that we watched the entire movie.
Normally movies don’t get THIS good at the end. I’m actually kind of shocked the rest of the movie turned out SO good.
That almost never happens when I decide to “see something through” for the sake of writing about it.
To be honest, I think it’s really just the beginning of “The Bad Guys” I have issues with.
With a few other (minor) things throughout the film that I noticed, because I was so bored at the beginning.
The beginning of the story is a little one dimensional, only focusing on introducing us to the characters, and its insanely cheesy.
It felt like they were force feeding the intro, trying to make sure each character got just enough spotlight, when all we really needed, was to see who they were.
I didn’t need the lame names intro.
Plus, the characters talking into the camera, narrating their story, while doing the “impossible”, didn’t work for me.
And yes I know it’s foolish to think a movie with talking animals, walking around like humans, could ever feel “believable”.
But in a movie like this, I need to believe SOMETHING.
And it’s bad enough that I don’t believe animals can walk around with humans, without someone trying to kill them or calling someone in to help. So to pile onto that, with “stunts” where a huge shark dresses up as a Mona Lisa, and people believe it … is too much.
The entire first act feels like a short film, that I needed to end early.
You know one of those 7 min short films, that you find out is really just 4 mins long because there’s 3 mins of end credits? Yeah … that’s what I was kinda hoping for.
But of course that’s not what happened.
It dragged on for quite some time, before things began to take off. (Just like this review is starting to drag on now … so let me hurry up and move this along.)
Once “The Bad Guys” stopped trying to give us cute and funny, and focused on giving us an actual story, it got good!
For a moment it felt like one of our main characters, could potentially fall for “The Mayor”, and I loved it.
But what I loved even more, was the fact that they didn’t give us the “traditional” bad guy falls for good girl story, at all!
They teased it, and then walked away, and …
I’d love for more family films to focus less on romance like this.
Hell, even my daughter is sick of it.
When we watched the new live-action Mulan movie awhile back, she pointed out that there wasn’t a romantic scene, and she loved that.
Instead of romance, we got … dare I say … a bromance?
But we did get a story on friendship instead, and it was great!
There’s a story here about what it’s like trying to find your way, without losing your friends, when you both want two different things, and it’s a wonderful sentiment to slither into a family film.
I mean most of the time when we grow and change the people around us don’t do so at the same rate.
So they tend to get “left behind”, and it’s a little comforting that even though they could have parted ways, they found their way back to each other. Romantic relationships aren’t the only relationships where we struggle.
So there’s something about seeing best friends struggle and grow together that feels “right”.
“The Bad Guys” was basically a reminder that you don’t have to cast people aside just to do better, or be a better person.
Which ironically, I was just telling myself this days ago, as I slowly lose someone who thinks they don’t have time “for fun” because they’re not where they need to be in life yet.
But it’s not that we can’t hang out more often that bothers me.
It’s more about how they approach each situation with annoyance and outrage, as if it’s stupid for me to want to actually see them in person, or do anything “fun” with them, while they build a life and a home.
And “The Bad Guys” proves that we don’t have to part ways, if we can stop and communicate our feelings.
If only we could keep an open mind to understand that everyones needs aren’t always necessarily going to be what we need, and that’s okay.
But at least hear someone out, before responding like an asshole, because I don’t know … you might actually find out that it’s not as bad as you think it is?
The story also reminds us that sometimes people become who they are, because that’s all they think they can be.
Like I mentioned above, this group of friends are all of the animals humans are afraid of.
This fear, is what makes the group feel like they’ll never be loved for who they really are! If humans are automatically afraid of them, before getting a chance to “meet them”, and say they’re bad, why should they keep trying to do good things?
And sadly, a lot of our kids start off this way!
I’ve worked with kids for the last 10 years of my life, and every kid that I’ve been “warned about”, every kid that was labeled as a “bad kid” was always more than what everyone said they were.
I’ve even had a kid once tell me that he no longer wanted to be a bad kid, he just didn’t know how to stop doing things that made others upset, and it broke my heart to hear him identify himself as a “bad kid”.
Too often adults mislabel kids as “bad”, and they carry this label around with them forever. The weight this puts on our kids shoulders is tremendous, and most kids never recover.
Because of this label, they only see themselves as bad, with no way out to “be good”, so they continue down this path, and set out to be the best “bad kid” they can be. Since that’s all anyone ever sees!
Much like our beloved characters in this story.
So yeah, the underlining story is great. The movie itself just starts off a little rocky.
So aside from the beginning, I really do like “The Bad Guys”, and there are a few things I love in particular.
Like the shot of our main guy in an all white suit, while almost every other character is in a black suit.
It really pulled focus in a cool way, and made him stand out just a little more.
But instead of his bad behavior getting all the attention, he gets some clout for being “cool enough to wear white” at what could very well be a “black tie” function.
And I loved that!
Plus there’s something that could be said here about how they purposely made the bad guy stand out, in all white, because what “bad guy” ever follows the rules? So not only did they invite themselves to the party, they also didn’t bother to follow the dress code.
Or maybe that’s just me digging too deep here. Either way, I loved this shot!
There’s even a villain twist, that I enjoyed towards the end.
There are actually a few twists! Which really keeps you on your toes, and keeps the ending from being completely predictable.
And there’s a jail fight scene that I loved.
I think because of the way it was choreographed? I wish I had wrote down all the details! But you’ll see it!
And I love that “The Mayor” gets a back story.
She’s actually kind of cooler than the main characters! I’m not gonna lie.
I wanna tell you so much about her, but unfortunately anything else I say could spoil some major plot points. So you’re just going to have to trust me on this one.
Oh, but the “bad guy” gadgets are sick!
The lipstick blow torch! The briefcase that turns into a motorcycle.
They’re all truly wonderful ideas.
I’d love a lipstick blow torch, if I could actually remember which one it is. I carry lipsticks all the time. Imagine me just up and forgetting!
Don’t need that kind of drama in my life.
But the scene where the Sinatra song plays, is my absolute fave.
Yup, there’s a Sinatra song. No I’m not telling you which one! You’ll have to watch “The Bad Guys” to see for yourself.
I am proud that my 10 yr old knew the song though. She started singing while it played, and I’m so glad I don’t have to disown her.
For all of those reasons, (in this extremely long review) “The Bad Guys” makes a great in theater watch for families, and there’s a lot adults can enjoy as well.
Somehow, not only did the the plot get better, as time went by, which may have led to a few “intense” scenes towards the end.
But even the film’s scoring got better as the movie progressed.
So even though the beginning felt like a short story that would never end.
The second and third act really made “The Bad Guys” feel like a lovable movie, worth paying to watch on the big screen.
So if you’re like me, and you loathe the first few minutes, don’t give into the urge to quit. Keep watching! Let the movie surprise you.
And if not for anything else, watch “The Bad Guys” to see the guinea pig’s two front teeth mysteriously keep changing its length as he talks. It’s insane and drove me crazy!
(But like I said, the beginning was boring, so of course I noticed this little detail.)