The Bad Guys is a delightful addition to the DreamWorks film library.

By Melissa Farthing, Copy Editor

Did you know that the last four films from DreamWorks Animation have been either sequels or spin-offs? That statistic has changed with the studio’s newest release on April 22: The Bad Guys.

The Bad Guys is based on a series of children’s graphic novels by the same name written by Aaron Blabey. I hadn’t read or heard of the books before watching this movie, but they must be popular since several film studios wanted the rights to them, according to The Daily Telegraph. DreamWorks ended up winning the battle, and in 2018, it was announced that the company would be creating an animation film based on The Bad Guys. Four years later, the film is finally showing in theaters. 

Well, every theater except for the Huntington 7. Yeah, for some reason, our local theater decided to only show The Bad Guys on its Thursday opening night. A very convenient time for a college student with Thursday night school activities and Friday morning classes. Not to fear because, over the weekend, my friend and I were able to trek up to the AMC at Jefferson Point in Fort Wayne (which is a much more grandiose theater anyway). We caught the Friday 7:15 p.m. showing. It was great to sit in a theater full of families again, a stark contrast to my experience seeing Raya and the Last Dragon in March 2021.

Thankfully, all of the children in this showing were well-behaved, making it easier for me to put on my “review spectacles” (not literally, that would be weird) once the film started. From the very opening scene, I could tell that this wouldn’t be your typical DreamWorks flick. According to Animation Magazine, the film’s first shot lasts a whopping two minutes, 25 seconds, and seven frames long. This is the longest opening shot in DreamWorks history (and I wouldn’t be surprised if it broke records at other studios either). Usually, animated films don’t contain shots that are this lengthy, so I loved that the film made a bold choice to begin this way. It introduces the dynamic relationship between the film’s main characters, Mr. Wolf and Mr. Snake, with a fun conversation that explores their personalities. 

After this scene, the action picks up, and we meet the other members of the quintet: Mr. Shark, Mr. Piranha and Ms. Tarantula. All five characters are uniquely hilarious in their own way. Each contributes something different to the film and has several moments to shine within the plot. 

Aside from the charming characters, one aspect of the film currently buzzing in the animation world is its unique art direction. From watching the trailers alone, I immediately got Into the Spiderverse vibes from the animation. Although The Bad Guys is a 3D animated film, it incorporates 2D elements throughout (ex. hand-drawn smoke effects, etc.). While similar to Spiderverse, it isn’t a carbon copy. Details like the warm color palette and the size of the characters’ pupils were accounted for when curating The Bad Guys’ one-of-a-kind animation style. I was able to catch the trailer for Puss in Boots: The Last Wish (coming in December of this year) before the film began, and it looks like DreamWorks will continue with this hybrid style in its upcoming movies. I’m really looking forward to this change!

Since I haven’t read the graphic novels on which this film was based, I can’t say whether or not the plot stayed loyal to its source material. However, I, for one, enjoyed the movie as a standalone story. There were several satisfying plot twists, and the writers dropped some clever hints that alluded to their occurrences. I won’t spoil any of these surprises, but definitely pay attention to the dialogue and what’s happening in the story when you watch The Bad Guys for the first time.

One negative aspect about this theater-going experience: for some reason, the volume was really loud. Like, so loud my ears were ringing at certain points. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who noticed since a random theater-goer sarcastically shouted, “Can we turn it up a bit?” during a lull. Unfortunately, the background music was so overwhelming that I had trouble hearing some of the dialogue, which has never happened in a film before. I probably missed some funny or witty lines, which may or may not affect this review. I hope to watch the film again when it lands on a streaming service.

Despite this, I had a lovely time screening The Bad Guys. It’s a solid addition to DreamWorks’ movie lineup and probably one of their strongest within the last decade.