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THE BAD GUYS gets 8/10 Furry fighters


Directed by Pierre Perifel

Starring Sam Rockwell, Awkwafina, Craig Robinson, Richard Ayoade, Zazie Beetz

8/10

Based on the bestselling children’s book series The Bad Guys by Aaron Blabey, this is a shining example of a book-to-screen kid’s film.

For those born after 2010, the basic plot is a group of ‘Bad Guys’ decide to change their persona. Mr Wolf (the Brains), Mr Snake (the Safecracker), Mr Shark (the Master of Disguise), Mr Piranha (the Muscle), and Ms Tarantula (the Hacker) are a crime syndicate who are offered a chance at reformation if they complete a series of community service lessons and can prove they have changed their ways.

But do they really intend to change, or is it all a complex scam? Can they fight their inner character? Are the good guys even good? Can a snake resist swallowing 100 adorable hamsters he has been sent to rescue from animal testing?

The Bad Guys can best be summarised as a cartoon version of Oceans 11. Masters of disguise, high tech robberies, characters changing sides, safecracking, savvy female love interests, switching the bling for fakes, and multiple layers of scams, it ticks all the Ocean 11 boxes. But for youngsters these are all stunningly original and clever concepts.

The Bad Guys also pokes fun at the genre it’s derived from, with everything from slowly putting on dark sunnies, to Mr Shark shouting “Help! Help! Are there any security guards that can leave their post unattended to come help?” At times Mr Wolf even sounds like George Clooney.

Interestingly the Dreamworks producers didn’t go for big celebrity names for the voices, as has been the Disney/Pixar guidebook for the last 20 years. While Mr Wolf is arguably the lead, voiced by Sam Rockwell, it really is an ensemble cast including Marc Maron, Awkwafina, Craig Robinson, Anthony Ramos, Richard Ayoade, and Zazie Beetz.

The animation is outstanding (and stays true to Aaron Blabey’s illustration style), as one would hope given the director Pierre Perifel is an animator by trade (Rise of the Guardians and Kung Fu Panda series). This directorial debut of his is an outstanding kids’ action film. It’s enjoyable for adults, while you can safely take even the littlest family members.

MELISSA MANN

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