The Bad Guys The Bad Guys

Dreamworks’ latest original feature hits theaters this week, and critics are chiming in on the Ocean’s Eleven-inspired animal heist flick.

The Bad Guys is adapted from Aaron Blabey’s best-selling book series, and follows five animal thieves as they attempt their most challenging job yet: going good to avoid being locked up.

Dreamworks stalwart Pierre Perifel directs the film, his solo feature debut. He previously co-directed the short Bilby and his credits as an animator include the Kung Fu Panda franchise and Shrek Forever After. Damon Ross and Rebecca Huntley produced, with Aaron Blabey, Etan Cohen, and Patrick Hughes on board as executive producers.

The film’s voice cast features Sam Rockwell, Marc Maron, Craig Robinson, Anthony Ramos, Awkwafina, Richard Adoye, Zazie Beetz, Lilly Singh, and Alex Borstein.

Most critics are thrilled by the quality of animation in the film’s ambitious set pieces, although some did accuse Perifel’s team of going a bit over-the-top at times. Sentiments were more mixed when it came to character animation though, particularly the character’s faces. In terms of humor, most reviews praised The Bad Guys’ visual gags and screenwriting in equal parts.

Overall, reviews have been positive so far. The film currently sits at an 84% on Rotten Tomatoes’ Tomatometer.

Here what critics are saying about The Bad Guys.

Jason Solomons at The Wrap appreciated the film’s classic mix of cartoon and action flick staples:

Billed as “a caper,” there’s something refreshingly old-fashioned and simple about The Bad Guys. No singing, no dancing, no moral lessons — it’s just a cartoon, with fast-talking, wise-cracking animals, lots of silly car chases, and a host of fart gags.

On the other end of the spectrum, and in the minority, The New York Times’ Calum Marsh was unimpressed by just about everything and seemed confused that an animated film would use animal protagonists.

This inane, juvenile animated comedy… is about a thieving clan of talking animals forced to reform after an elaborate heist goes wrong. They steal, they banter, they have car chases, as animals do not. There’s barely a frame in which they don’t smirk… The fast-paced, action-oriented heist sequences… have more in common with the later Fast and Furious films than with classic heist pictures like Ocean’s [Eleven], and there are several overly long, gravity-defying car chases throughout, as if to drive the comparison home.

Kristen Page-Kirby at The Washington Post praised the film’s animation during its set pieces, but also took issue with the animal’s too-often smirking Faces.

The animation — particularly during the plentiful action sequences, and especially during the car chases — is sharp and fast and wonderful to watch. As in the Ocean’s movies, there are some nifty edits that bring sophistication to the look of the film, despite some stumbles. Case in point: Wolf, like other characters with fur, has a very fuzzy body, but the rendering of his face is so smooth, it looks like he’s gone a little overboard with the Instagram filter.

Variety’s Guy Lodge was more impressed with the film’s style than its substance, although he seemed well amused overall.

…The chief incidental pleasures of The Bad Guys are craft-based, from its disciplined, suitably Californian palette of burnt oranges and canine tans, to the brassy exuberance of Daniel Pemberton’s working-overtime score, full of sonic callbacks to ’70s heist-movie funk.

In her three-star review for The Guardian, Wendy Ide said she her attention was captured by the film’s pacing, but even more so by its sense of humor.

Like Roger Rabbit, the pacing owes a debt to the demented frenzy of classic Looney Tunes animations, but the film also nods to heist movies, notably the Ocean’s series. It’s deliberately preposterous – the disguises are rarely more convincing than the kind of false nose and moustache combo you might find in a cracker. But there’s a kernel of believability where it matters: in the easy repartee and fully fleshed friendships. It’s sharp, silly, and frequently very funny.

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