Where I Watched It: Peacock
English Audio description Available?: Yes
Provided By: Media Access Group
Narrated By: Ms. Page
Dreamworks Animation has been around for quite a while since entering the market as a legitimate competitor to Disney back in the 90’s. Since that time, they’ve been responsible for launching several major franchises that have delighted fans, and have sold a ton of merchandise. But the studio that Shrek built is no longer operating under Dreamworks as a distributor, but under the larger banner of the Comcast/NBC/Universal brand, where they share the same breath and airspace as illumination. Why am I mentioning this? Well, when Disney officially acquired Pixar, the quality of the films didn’t start to nosedive. And when Disney acquired Blue Sky via the Fox buyout, they killed Blue Sky knowing that. Pixar was a stronger brand (even though Blue Sky very much had fans).
Universal is operating two animation studios, and both of them are just churning stuff out. The Bad Guys is not the kind of film Dreamworks used to put out when trying to compete with Disney, knowing that great storytelling, characters, and heart all mattered. Goofy fun for 90 minutes can only go just so far. That’s what makes a film like How To Train Your Dragon so amazing, is the thought put into the story, the world building, and the characters.
The Bad Guys is just fine. But I have a feeling, much like the unnecessary sequel Sing 2, we will get a Bad Guys sequel just as irrelevant as The Boss Baby sequel. The Bad Guys takes an easy enough concept, like a version of Suicide Squad for kids, taking animals who are always seen as villains, and putting them in a Ocean’s 11 style caper where they all have individual strengths that come together so they can pull off elaborate heists.
But when they get caught, Wolf (Sam Rockwell) decides to use this as an opportunity to wag his tail, and manipulates the situation so this charitable Guinea pig takes them under his wing and helps make them the good guys.
It’s a fairly straight forward film where the plot goes everywhere you think it’s going to be. of course our bad guys will come to some place of redemption. After all, this is a kids film, and arguably, even the Suicide Squad has their moments of heroism.
But where the film gets lazy is in just the initial structure. Sure, we have “the big bad wolf”, who just goes by his species. In fact, four of the five members of The Bad Guys are named based off what creature they are. only the tarantula (Aquafina) is spared the task of having to be called Tarantula the whole film. Interestingly, she’s also the only female character of the five.
The film does make up for the initial lack of feminine wiles by having both the Governor and Chief of Police be female characters, who each have some screen time. Mostly, this is just a rather simplistic plot, with some jokes aimed at kids and a plot that adults might like, so it can pass for a decent way to spend your time.
And that’s really what it is. It’s just a good time waster, but in no way is this one of Dreamworks best, it’s not the best animated film of the year, and likely something louder will attract their attention later. I do think kids and parents can sit through this together, and I’ve already watched a lot more animated films this year that were much worse.
The Blind Perspective: I have a potential problem. I don’t understand how this world operates. That could be poor writing from a screenplay standpoint, the narration, or possibly just my overthinking. But, this film seems to feature both anthropomorphic animals living in America (they reference actual cities, unlike Sing 2), and in the opening scene between Wolf and Snake, the audio description mentioned that there are humans cowering in the background. Are they just cowering because they are the bad guys? Because they are a wolf and a snake? I couldn’t find another mention of a human within the film. There are characters mentioned, without saying what animal they are. Are they human?
Furthermore, how are some of the animals anthropomorphic, but when they have to save a cat from a tree… it’s just a regular cat? These are questions I have about the plot, but also because the description wasn’t consistent in letting me know who was what, I didn’t know how prominent this world was around this animal/human dynamic.
Final Thoughts: I’m grading this film based on the hopeful nature I carry in my soul that the audio description just didn’t give me enough. If it is just a shitty screenplay, then I would grade this film lower. But for right now, assuming this film has potential to make sense, if only the Wizard gave me vision, I’ll play nice.
Final Grade: B