The Bad Guys

Certificate: U

Voices of: Sam Rockwell, Marc Maron, Awkwafina, Craig Robinson, Anthony Ramos

Release date: 2022

4 out of 5


Starring animated creatures we would normally avoid at all costs, Universal’s The Bad Guys is a heist caper with a heart, a sort of Oceans 11 for children, which deals with friendship, goodness and trust in 100 madcap minutes. Its speed and cleverness – lacking foul language or cruelty – means that children and adults should enjoy this imaginative story of a criminal gang of anthropomorphic animals – a wolf, a snake, a piranha, a tarantula and a shark – who are given a chance to be good.

The gang called The Bad Guys are led by Wolf (Rockwell) a suave, attractive wolf pickpocket who heads a trusty team of specialist criminals: Snake (Maron) a snake, Tarantula (Awkwafina) a spider who is also a hacker, Piranha (Ramos) a piranha with a secret weapon and Shark (Robinson) a shark who is the master of disguise.

Using their dangerous reputation to scare people, the legendary gang fails in their latest heist – grabbing a valuable award at an event with governor/red fox Diane Foxington (Zazie Beetz) and Professor Marmalade, a lisping scientist/hamster known for his incredible kindness and intelligence (Richard Ayoade). 

Nabbed by muscular police chief Misty Luggins (Alex Borstein) whose entire career focussed on putting them behind bars, Governor Foxington agrees to let Professor Marmalade train the criminals to become ideal citizens who want to do good things. The series of lessons set by Marmalade is failed by the whole gang except Wolf – and his attraction to Foxington makes him think being good isn’t so bad. Besides, when he does good deeds, he can’t stop his tail from wagging. But all is not as it seems and soon a surprise villain emerges, unseen by everyone but Wolf. 

With zingy computer animation French director (and Kung Fu panda animator) Pierre Perifel makes his feature film debut as unforgettable as a fairground ride. Based on the best selling children’s book series by Australian Aaron Blabey, the voice work of the whole cast lends warmth, comedy and emotion to this intelligent tale of judging a book by its cover.

Its tone is not offensive, preachy, lecturing or condescending in any way. Every character has its own charm. An ideal film for adults who don’t like animated features and a treat for kids, The Bad Guys is confident and lively and is one of DreamWorks Animation’s most appealing releases. 

Is The Bad Guys suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...

Very young children may not like Snake, who can seem a little scary at times.

Also, later in the film, a character dons a Ninja outfit and becomes a shadowy figure.

There is also a lot of comedy farting in the form of green smoke from one of the hero characters. 

SPOILER: There are some hypnotised hamsters – thousands of them with green zombie eyes – which could frighten children. Although they’re still furry animated hamsters, green glowing eyes may make them creepy.

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