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Bad Guys (2022), The
Based on the children's graphic-novel series by Aaron Blabey, Pierre Perifel's The Bad Guys is a high-energy animated film with a solid story, interesting visuals, and strong voice talent in Sam Rockwell, Awkwafina, and Marc Maron. In the opening sequence, which is an unexpected and hilarious nod to Pulp Fiction, it is revealed that humans and animals coexist in the film's world. Mr. Wolf (Rockwell) leads a group of animal criminals dubbed "the Bad Guys" by fox governor Diane Foxington (Zazie Beetz) that includes safe-cracker Mr. Snake (Maron), hacker Ms. Tarantula (Awkwafina), muscle Mr. Piranha (Anthony Ramos), and master of disguises Mr. Shark (Craig Robinson). The crew does not appreciate the outside hate from Foxington, who labels them monsters, so Mr. Wolf decides to steal a valuable artifact called the Golden Dolphin from guinea pig philanthropist Professor Marmalade (Richard Ayoade). The plan goes south when Mr. Wolf helps an elderly woman, and the Bad Guys are eventually caught. Mr. Wolf convinces Foxington to allow Marmalade to try to reform them instead of throwing them in jail, but Mr. Wolf is secretly planning to steal back the artifact under the guise of being part of "the Good Guys."
This is certainly an above-average non-Pixar animated film, thanks in part to its high-energy nods to crime capers like Ocean's Eleven and The Sting. With sharp writing by Etan Cohen (Tropic Thunder), The Bad Guys zips through 100 minutes of colorful animation and frequent action. Nothing about the story is particularly memorable, but I actually appreciate the film for just being entertaining instead of trying to beat viewers over the head with big ideas or forced life lessons. Sure, the Bad Guys learn a thing or two about loyalty, retribution and themselves, but the film keeps things pretty light throughout.
This movie should play very well with its intended, younger audience, and there are certainly enough clever references and nods to other films to keep adults entertained, too. The characters are not especially well developed but they are inherently cool, particularly Rockwell's Mr. Wolf. The story arc about Mr. Piranha eating guinea pigs is absurdly hilarious, and Mr. Snake's emotional journey works well. DreamWorks Animation Studios again scores in the technical department, delivering a polished, attractive animated film with enough eye-popping visuals to keep kids watching. The film was a huge hit at the box office, so I expect we will see these characters return soon. For family animated fare, The Bad Guys is easy to recommend.
The 2.39:1/1080p/AVC-encoded image is expectedly impressive. This colorful film receives the benefit of a crystal clear HD transfer that offers excellent detail and texture. Colors are nicely saturated, and black levels and highlights remain true. Sharpness is excellent, and the film looks great in motion.
I sampled the Dolby Atmos soundtrack in its 7.1 Dolby TrueHD variant, and the results are impressive. There is abundant surround action and LFE support. Action and ambient effects pan the entire sound field and are nicely balanced with dialogue and score. There is some real heft to the proceedings, and this is an immersive mix. Spanish 7.1 Dolby Digital Plus and French 5.1 Dolby Digital dubs are included, as are English SDH, French, and Spanish subtitles.
PACKAGING AND EXTRAS:
For whatever reason, Universal has begun labeling its new releases "Collector's Editions," which recalls their special editions during the heyday of DVD. This two-disc set includes the Blu-ray, a DVD copy and a digital copy. The discs are packed in a standard case that is wrapped in a slipcover. Extras include Maraschino Ruby (3:50/HD), a short film involving the characters; Deleted Scenes (10:52 total/HD); Devise the Plan: Making The Bad Guys (6:56/HD); Assemble the Crew (6:46/HD); It's Showtime: Cast Table Read (5:51/HD); Snake's Frozen Pop Shop (6:59 total/HD); From the Drawing Room (16:16 total/HD); and a Filmmaker Audio Commentary.
Breezy and energetic, The Bad Guys is an enjoyable homage to ‘70s crime capers. Universal offers the film in an impressive HD edition that is Recommended for families.
William lives in Burlington, North Carolina, and looks forward to a Friday-afternoon matinee.