FILM REVIEW / REVIEW – Pierre Perifel, a French animator who has already directed short films and worked on “The Five Legends”, is throwing himself into the deep end with his first solo feature film: “The Bad Guys”, the new film from DreamWorks studios.
The Bad Guys: new DreamWorks production
After The Croods 2, Baby Boss 2, and Spirit: The Indomitable, DreamWorks Studios are back with a new original production: The Bad Guys. Finally, original, not quite. Pierre Perifel’s feature film is adapted from a series of Australian books for children created by Aaron Bladey. Pierre Perifel, precisely, is an animator of French origin who signs with The Bad Guys as his very first solo feature film. The opportunity for him to hone his skills and offer the brand new DreamWorks production which seeks to set itself apart from the firm’s previous films.
The story follows the fate of a group of outlaws with big hearts: the Bad Guys. Consisting of Mr. Wolf, Mr. Snake, Mr. Shark, Mr. Piranha, and Miss Tarantula, this group of thieves decides to mount one last big blow before retiring. The classic scheme of the heist film is taken up and transformed in this generous and entertaining animated feature film.
Inevitably, with a subject like this, The Bad Guys don’t forget to offer some fairly obvious references. The feature film opens with a tribute to pulp Fiction, where Mr. Wolf and Mr. Serpent play it, John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson. The film thus stages the two heroes who come out of a café/restaurant and place a note on the counter while the audience is panicked by their presence while discussing the way Mr. Serpent consumes his food. An obvious reference to Tarantino’s film, and to that iconic cheeseburger dialogue.
Of course, the references don’t stop there, and screenwriters Etan Cohen and Hilary Winston pay homage to many of their elders. We can thus see, in bulk, clear references to the saga Ocean’s (especially in heist sequences), but also at Zootopia (via the fox persona) and to Me, Despicable Me. Particularly in the treatment of the notion of the villain, and of this desire to change the villain’s intrinsic identity to something nobler. A theme at the heart of Illumination films.
Entertaining but forgettable
The Bad Guys East is an overall endearing film, but also very noisy. Generous and eccentric, the feature film is totally in line with the movement of modern animated cinema. An epileptic production with a lot of noises and colors and a very clipped jerky editing. A procedure often used by DreamWorks that will seduce some and put off others. The Bad Guys seek to impose itself almost like an action film and often neglects its comic and emotional springs too basic to convince. As often with DreamWorks, the emotion does not take, and The Bad Guys are content to be entertained at 100 an hour without any real soul or sentimental involvement.
The secondary characters are also unfortunately quite bland and extinct. Only Mr. Wolf and Mr. Snake do well in this underemployed bestiary, although there was excellent comic potential for the secondary characters. Thus, these unattractive heroes, coupled with a telephonic and predictable narrative make The Bad Guys honorable and generous entertainment, but quickly forgettable.
The Bad Guys by Pierre Perifel, in theaters on April 6, 2022.