Animated films have taken a leap of faith in the last decade, from animation ranging heavily from hand-drawn scene packs to full-fledged 3D animation taking the stage in recent years. And it’s the feat that Sony’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse was able to achieve which absolutely opened up a new light and way to create animated films on a more unique and versatile level. Mixing a series of animation styles is already quite the challenge on its own, and its no secret hybrid animation films have been around for some time now, ever since Harry O. Hoyt’s film The Lost World (1925) astounded audiences due to its never seen effects. And to see how far animation has come is exhilarating so to see Sony’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse utilize 2D animation, 3D animation, and cinematic staging all in one film is breathtaking to say the very least.
Now, it is important to mention a bit of history and the literal visual proof of the progress of modern animation since it seems as though new styles will become the spotlight down the line. Pierre Perifel’s latest film, The Bad Guys, takes advantage of the many mediums brought to light by creating a film that is seemingly inspired by the animation team behind Spider-Verse, with its gorgeous and dynamic world-creation to the spunky characters uniquely drawn. The Bad Guys seemingly take elements from Disney’s Zootopia (2016) with its anthropomorphic characters and it’s noticeable that the film draws heavy inspiration from Ocean’s 11. Perifel’s film centers around the infamous group of criminals, consisting of a wolf, snake, piranha, shark, and a tarantula. They have successfully completed many heists over the years but it’s when they’re finally caught that leads them to cut a deal, to give up crime for good to become model citizens to avoid being sentenced.
With some surprising number of aspects that are well executed, whether it be the beautiful animation or even the sound mixing, the film shows it has much to offer to help sway. And it would be a crime to not take the time to properly commend the beautiful animation and the team behind the best element of the film. From start to finish, the style is refreshing and once again an absolute delight to watch for the entirety of the runtime. Scenes containing an entire city are handled delightfully, detailing every object in view to bring the world to life for audiences. The 3D animation is mixed smoothly with the 2D animation, creating a composite of visual feasts, and coupled with the quirky character designs, you’re given a rather unique take on the anthropomorphic genre. And seeing how this film is an adaptation of the beloved book The Bad Guys written by Aaron Blabey, the material stays true to the source material while also providing a unique take by implementing many styles of art and writing a plot that is filled with tame ridiculousness. In terms of animation and style, it’s the element that prevents the film from becoming complete schlock at some points.
But as for the flaws, it may come as a surprise to learn the missteps the film takes are not completely detrimental to the final product as many of it is largely due to the film wanting to entertain the target audience. And since this is marketed as a children’s film, ill-advised jokes are to be expected and the film delivers on said jokes. At the risk of sounding completely uptight, when a film introduces fart jokes, eyes will immediately begin to roll as the payoff from these jokes are usually quite minuscule. But when a film writes a character given the purpose to only make fart jokes on a consistent basis, it should come as no surprise that the only laughs being generated from this type of humor are minor chuckles due to the absurdness. But luckily, the writing suffers slightly from the sometimes-spotty writing as the film does include a comical amount of self-awareness and 4th wall breaks. It becomes rather entertaining to watch the characters push and pull the narrative, making use of the predictable plot and running rampant with ideas.
The film is truly a carefully detailed project made for attentive viewers and aesthetes. And although the narrative is quite predictable for most of the duration, there are some twists that come off as charming. What’s amusing is that the shortcomings of this film actually propel the entertaining aspects beyond what is expected. Not to mention the voice acting as well, Sam Rockwell comes off as charismatic as ever along with the rest of the cast pulling their own weight handily. Even Awkwafina, who has before been the low point in a few of her credits, holds her own and brings a level of fun needed for this type of project.
To say this film is fun would be an understatement, as it genuinely comes off as unique and charming for most of the runtime and it is obvious to notice how much care was put into the creation of this film. The flaws are nothing more than slight missteps which are either corrected or made up for by the more than appealing animation and writing. And although the film is primarily made for children, it can no doubt be appreciated by those wanting to admire prime animation and enjoyable filmmaking. The Bad Guys are, as a whole, a great example of connecting multiple elements smoothly and satisfyingly.