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DVD/Blu-ray Review: The Bad Guys – “The hybrid illustrative/anime style heightens the storytelling”

A notorious gang of criminals led by Mr. Wolf attempt to avoid a prison sentence by pretending to become model citizens under the tutelage of Professor Marmalade.

A restaurant conversation between the birthday celebrating Mr. Snake and Mr. Wolf leads to them crossing the street to conduct a bank heist in a sequence that pays homage to the opening of Reservoir Dogs. A resulting car chase sets up the introductions of the various members of The Bad Guys and displays their various skillsets as well as personal interactions with each other while they taunt the local police department. Trouble ensues when the newly appointed Governor Diane Foxington disses the criminal enterprise which sees them attempt to conduct a high-risk robbery at an award ceremony that results in them getting caught. In an effort to avoid a lifetime behind bars Mr. Wolf claims that the gang wants to go straight and could do so under guidance of revered philanthropist Professor Marmalade. The con does not according to plan due to a series of misunderstandings, conflicted emotions and a nefarious conspiracy.

When creating The Bad Guys author Aaron Blabey wanted to created a story that was Quentin Tarantino for children which is something that filmmaker Pierre Perifel does in his feature directorial debut. An overriding theme is misperceptions and turning stereotypes inside out to reveal the ignorance behind them. There are plenty of plot twists that can be expected but what is really fun to watch is the hybrid illustrative/anime style that heightens the storytelling. The colour palette is vibrant and shifts to reflect the mood of the characters and scenes. Doing effects like dust and explosions in a 2D manner contributes to the illustrative quality of the imagery. Undoubtedly there are fart jokes that will please children as well as pop references that will appeal to adults like Mr. Wolf wearing a white suite and getting razzed for attempting to emulate George Clooney.

The proceedings get elevated with the appearance of the legendary thief Crimson Paw, in particular during a prison fight sequence where various character poses are played for comic and dramatic effect. Things get maniacal during the nonstop third act but by that point the audience is sitting back and enjoying the ride. As for the voices, the cast of Sam Rockwell, Marc Maron, Awkwafina, Craig Robinson, Anthony Ramos, Richard Ayoade and Zazie Beetz are obviously having a blast rifting off of each other; this is highlighted in a featurette that shows snippets of a virtual script reading sessions. A quirky bonus is the inclusion of popsicle recipes which I wonder how many children will attempt to make. A nice addition is Nelson Yokota, who was the head of story, explaining how to create a storyboard and draw the main characters.

Trevor Hogg is a freelance video editor and writer who currently resides in Canada; he can be found at LinkedIn.

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