Saturday, April 1, 2023

Review: "THE BAD GUYS" is A.C.E. (Average, Cute & Entertaining)

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 16 of 2023 (No. 1905) by Leroy Douresseaux

The Bad Guys (2022)
Running time:  100 minutes (1 hour, 40 minutes)
MPAA – PG for action and rude humor
DIRECTOR:  Pierre Perifel
WRITERS:  Etan Cohen (based on the books by Aaron Blabey)
PRODUCERS:  Rebecca Huntley and Damon Ross
EDITOR:  John Venzon
COMPOSER:  Daniel Pemberton


Starring:  (voices):  Sam Rockwell, Marc Maron, Awkwafina, Craig Robinson, Anthony Ramos, Richard Ayoade, Zazie Beetz, Alex Borstein, and Lilly Singh

The Bad Guys is a 2022 computer-animated crime comedy and adventure fantasy film directed by Pierre Perifel and produced by DreamWorks Animation.  The film is loosely based on the children's book series, The Bad Guys, by Aaron Blabey.  The Bad Guys the movie focuses on a gang of notorious animal criminals pretending to want to be rehabilitated until circumstances force them to really attempt to do something good.

The Bad Guys is set in a world in which humans co-exist with anthropomorphic animals (animals that talk and act like humans).  The film introduces “The Bad Guys,” a gang of five infamous criminal animals known for their numerous thefts and their uncanny ability to evade authorities.  The Bad Guys are Mr. Wolf (Sam Rockwell), a cool and slick pickpocket who is the team's leader; Mr. Snake (Marc Maron), a safe-cracking snake who is Wolf's second-in-command and best friend; Ms. Tarantula (Awkwafina), a sarcastic hacker also known as “Webs;” Mr. Shark (Craig Robinson), a sensitive and child-like master of disguise; and Mr. Piranha (Anthony Ramos), the sharp-tongued tough guy and muscle of the group.

Their latest target is the “Golden Dolphin,” a trophy to be handed out at the “Annual Good Samaritan Awards” being held at the Museum of Fine Arts.  The Golden Dolphin will be awarded to Professor Rupert Marmalade IV, a wealthy guinea pig philanthropist whose generosity is almost as good as that of Mother Teresa.  The event will also be attended by Governor Diane Foxington (Zazie Beetz) and Police Chief Misty Luggins (Alex Borstein), a husky female law enforcement who is determined to nab the Bad Guys.

When the Bad Guys are nabbed, Mr. Wolf accepts an offer from Professor Marmalade, with Gov. Foxington's approval, to reform and rehabilitate the Bad Guys.  There are problems with that.  Mr. Snake is reluctant to be reformed.  Not everyone is truthful about their roles in this plan or honest about their identity.  But a part of Mr. Wolf secretly really wants to change his ways.

I created a new acronym for big studio, computer-animated (or CG animated) feature films aimed at the family audience.  It is “A.C.E.,” which means “Average, Cute & Entertaining.”  According to an April 2022 feature in the Los Angeles Times about The Bad Guys, the film's design is inspired by Sony Pictures Animation's 2018, Oscar-winning film, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, which mixed both a 3D and a 2D aesthetic in its design.  Honestly, I can't tell that just by watching the film.  I can tell that The Bad Guys also mixes 2D and 3D graphics and design elements, but The Bad Guys' animation lacks the spark of the highly-acclaimed Spider-Man film.

The characters are mildly amusing and interesting, but they seem more like types than actual characters.  The only character that I really liked is a kitten that is not anthropomorphic and does not talk.  Just as Disney/Pixar's Lightyear was uplifted by the robotic cat, “Sox,” The Bad Guys receive a jolt when this unnamed kitten appears.

Even the voice acting in The Bad Guys seems only kind of inspired.  Sam Rockwell is too cool for his character, Mr. Wolf's own good.  I can't believe that Zazie Beetz provides the voice for Governor Foxington because this distinctive performer sounds like a generic female voice performer.

So there it is.  The Bad Guys is average entertainment, but cute average entertainment.  There is a good chance that young audiences will adore it, but I kinda wish I hadn't bothered with it – except I would have missed the adorable kitty.

5 of 10
★★½ out of 4 stars

Friday, March 31, 2023

2023 Black Reel Awards:  1 nomination: “Outstanding Voice Performance” (Zazie Beetz)

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