I've always admired what DreamWorks Animation is capable of. They've always been an animation studio I have greatly admired and they have made some amazing and hilarious animated films that have stood out over the years. With that said, they have definitely been through a rough period the past few years. While I have enjoyed a couple of animated films they have made since 2013, they had also put out a few duds that I didn't exactly care for while also scrapping some potentially promising animated films. And yet, I still held on to hope that they could make an animated film that had a lot of the humor and energy they were known for. And that leads us to their latest animated film, "The Bad Guys" and all I can say about it is that it's a blast. It's such a stylish, slick, goofy, energetic, and hilarious animated film that I was looking forward to and I can say it lived up to my expectations. I have been waiting for so long to write these words into one of my reviews but now I can finally say it. This is one of DreamWorks' best-animated films in years and I loved it so much.
In Los Angeles, a group of animal criminals known as the Bad Guys have been committing tons of crimes around the world and gloating in their pride about how bad they are. This includes their slick leader Mr. Wolf (Sam Rockwell), his best friend and second in command Mr. Snake (Marc Maron), the crazed muscle Mr. Piranha (Anthony Ramos), the master in disguise Mr. Shark (Craig Robinson), and the hacker Ms. Tarantula (Awkwafina). One day though, their plan to rob an award at a ceremony goes horribly wrong and they end up getting arrested, but sensing an opportunity to get out scot-free, Wolf strikes a deal with the mayor Diane Foxington (Zazie Beetz) to go good under the training of the philanthropist guinea pig Professor Marmalade (Richard Ayoade). From there, the Bad Guys sense to figure out a plan to try to pretend to be good so they can run off into the sunset though Wolf begins to wonder if it's better to be good than bad.
This was an animated film I have been looking forward to watching for so long. As soon as DreamWorks announced this film back in 2018, I had a feeling that it was gonna be a big hit for them, especially since the books the film was based on written by Aaron Blabey were a perfect fit for them. After finally seeing this film after years of waiting, I can safely say that it was a film that certainly lived up to what I expected it to be. I really felt I was watching a DreamWorks film that was gonna be remembered as being one of their best films. The story itself is not the most original one and does have the predictable beats that you would expect, but it absolutely makes up for it with its style and energy. Much like how "Kung Fu Panda" was a fun tribute to the martial arts films, this is a send-up to crime films from the likes of Quinten Tarantino and Steven Soderberg. It's apparent right from the start as we see Mr. Snake and Mr. Wolf in a diner talking about cake in a tribute to the opening scene of "Pulp Fiction" and from there, the film hit the gas pedal at full force and never takes its foot off. There's so much style and slickness in these scenes that kept me engaged from start to finish and never left me feeling dull. The heists play out almost like scenes from "Oceans Eleven" and it's exceptionally engaging to watch. It also helps that the film is exceptionally hilarious as well. A lot of the jokes the film uses are built upon and they are so funny to watch. I think one of my favorite jokes involves a cat being stuck in a tree which led to one moment that was so funny, I started laughing like an idiot in the theater with everyone around me looking at me strangely. That rarely happens, but this film did the trick. As far as the animation goes, it is top-notch. This is one of the best-looking animated films DreamWorks has ever made. It's very apparent just how much "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" has influenced the animation landscape and this film definitely takes a lot of inspiration from it while making it its own.
It takes a stylized approach by having traditional animated elements drawn upon the computer-animated models to make it look fresh, slick, and innovative. It goes from the character's eyes and eyebrows to the sweat and tears that roll down their cheeks. Not only that, it helps make the action scenes that much more eye-popping as there is a lot of cool animation smears around each character during fight scenes or fast-paced moments. I also really loved the character designs of the film which took Aaron Blabey's designs and makes them look a bit like characters you would find on Saturday mornings back in the 60s like "Underdog" or "Rocky and Bullwinkle". Speaking of the characters, these are easily some of the best characters DreamWorks has made in years. They are all lovable, funny, have great personalities, and have moments that easily steal the show. Mr. Wolf is such a fun protagonist to watch and he has a cool sense of charm and style that only Sam Rockwell could bring to this character. I also think his growth by the end of the film to realize the error of his ways and realize that being good isn't that bad is believable and I also think he had some great chemistry with the other characters, particularly Diane Foxington. The rest of the Bad Guys all had their moments like Mr. Snake having an obsession with eating guinea pigs, Mr. Piranha being very crazy, Mr. Shark having some hilarious moments in disguise despite them being painfully obvious, and Ms. Tarantula being the cool one and the most sensible one amongst the group. I also thought the character Professor Marmalade was pretty funny too with Richard Ayoade totally having a blast in the role as well as the crabby police chief Misty Luggins (Alex Borstein) being exceptionally over the top in all the right ways. It was very clear the actors were having so much fun working on this film.
And honestly, I had so much fun just watching "The Bad Guys". The story is hilarious and filled with great energy, the animation is stylish and beautifully designed, and the characters are all terrific and backed up by some great performances from the cast. This truly is DreamWorks' best-animated film in years and I highly recommend checking it out. It's a film that I really want to see them make more of because it has so much style and energy that I just loved. There really is nothing else I can say about this film other than it's really, really good.