© Universal Pictures International Germany GmbH

Die Gangster Gang (The Bad Guys)
U.S.A. 2022

Opening 17 Mar 2022

Directed by: Pierre Perifel
Writing credits: Aaron Blabey, Etan Cohen, Yoni Brenner, Hilary Winston
Principal actors: Sam Rockwell, Marc Maron, Awkwafina , Craig Robinson, Anthony Ramos

The Bad Guys is an animated movie based on the widely successful series of kids’ books by the same name, written by Australian writer Aaron Blabey. The bad guys of the title are a wolf, a snake, a piranha, a tarantula, and a shark – five scary animals who together form an expert band of criminals. The gang is led by Mr. Wolf, who is fast talking and suave, and feels like a cartoon version of George Clooney’s character Danny Ocean in Ocean’s Eleven. Like that story, The Bad Guys involves the gang’s big plans for a heist. But when they get caught, Mr. Wolf agrees that the gang will “go good” in order to avoid jailtime. With Professor Marmalade – a beloved philanthropist and well-behaved guinea pig – as their mentor, the gang pretends to become good, until maybe they’re not pretending anymore. When they cross paths with an infamous thief, The Crimson Paw, the bad guys are forced to decide whether they are actually good or bad and whether the gang can survive all the crazy action and plot twists thrown their way.

I found the film to be fun – up to a point. It was fast and funny and there was literally never a dull moment, but it often felt like too much was happening for a kid’s movie, and some of the plot seemed so contrived or obvious that it was annoying to this adult viewer. My seven-year-old daughter and her eight-year-old friend had a different idea: they both declared it “really cool” and particularly liked the female action hero The Crimson Paw, who embodies the film’s idea that bad and good aren’t completely black and white, and things aren’t always what they seem. (I don’t think that’s why they liked this character; they liked her because she was smart and confident and really good at fighting her enemies!) But even though my kiddo companions liked watching this movie, they haven’t really mentioned it since. I get the sense this is a movie that will be fun for kids to watch (recommended as of six years), but not one that that will be particularly iconic or become part of the canon. (Diana Schnelle)

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