In a world where humans and animals coexist, a legendary group of criminals roams the streets.
Known as “The Bad Guys”, this diabolical team is led by pick-pocket Mr. Wolf (voice of Sam Rockwell) with safe-cracker Mr. Snake(Marc Maron) by his side. They are joined by sharp-tongued hacker Ms. Tarantula (Awkwafina), the master-of-disguise Mr. Shark (Craig Robinson) and the short-fused ‘muscle’ Mr. Piranha (Anthony Ramos).
Wolf is the brains of the outfit and has successfully led several heists. His leadership has helped them attain legendary status due to the audacity of their crimes. Wolf is always trying to be one step ahead of everyone else. Like a seasoned chess player, he plans moves ahead of time. But when he and his team are caught in the act, he is rattled when, for the first time, things do not work out exactly as he planned.
In an attempt to avoid jail time, Wolf tries to convince the Governor and Police Chief that his team is a product of people’s perceptions. Specifically, if people fear them as the kinds of animals they are, what hope do they have of ever being good?
Highlighted throughout this animated outing is one compelling element in our modern era – the perceived “strengths” and manipulative effects of social media. In one scene, a video is posted and the public view of the Bad Guys starts to dramatically change. By the time of the anti-heroes’ next public appearance, they are seen as “good guys” and everyone wants to take selfies with them.
This shift becomes an opportunity to reform the group, through a series of challenges designed to encourage their behaviour to change. Yet, it seems unlikely the Bad Guys can become model citizens when they have been criminals all their lives. Can a leopard really change its spots?
This project is quite a departure from other DreamWorks films with an ambitious story similar to animated features such as Despicable Me and Megamind. Still, this film is executed with stunning, stylistic and fast-paced animation reminiscent of Ocean’s Eleven movies. Characters all have their own quirks, with mannerisms reinforcing their individual natures. This is complemented by a wealth of acting talent in the voice contributors who add a layer of depth to the characters, making them very convincing as anthropomorphic animals.
Based on The New York Times best-selling book series by Australian author Aaron Blabey, the message of The Bad Guys is undeniable in true DreamWorks fashion. Are we indeed who we are – or as others see us? This query leads to a secondary, thought-provoking “nature versus nurture” debate.
Overall, this story benefits from a fantastic combination of slick animation and strong voiceover performances, making it clear that you should never judge a book by its cover.
Can people (or animated animals) change?
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Psalm 51:10
“Can someone really change?” is an ongoing debate that will plague people until the end of time. It has been at the heart of stories, novels, and films. Psychologists and philosophers all have different arguments for and against the possibility of humans changing their ways. But history does prove it can be done. Still, we see this debate repeating itself year after year. So, where do we go to find concrete answers?
The words of the Bible do provide the answers that people seek, as well as revealing how desperately wicked humanity can be towards one another. But it is essential to discover how hearts can be truly change, by considering how we can move from bad to good. A feat that can not be done by sheer will or by following a 12 step program. The answer to this age-old question is found in the words, life and sacrifice of Jesus.
This may seem simplistic, but it is an answer worth studying. If this is a question you need help answering, start reading the book of Romans or contact us here.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17
Article supplied with thanks to Reel Dialogue and City Bible Forum.
About the author: Russ Matthews is a film critic at City Bible Forum and Reel Dialogue. He has a passion for film and sparking spiritual conversations.