On the surface, “The Bad Guys” is a fast-paced animated film about a group of criminal animal outlaws who are tasked with becoming model citizens to avoid jail time. But underneath that, the film highlights an important message for kids and adults alike: Don’t judge others by their outward appearance, and change is possible, even for “bad guys.”
That’s according to the director and cast of the DreamWorks Animation comedy, which hits theaters on April 22. “The Bad Guys” follows five notorious friends: pickpocket Mr. Wolf, cynical Mr. Snake, master of disguise Mr. Shark, volatile Mr. Piranha, and expert computer hacker Ms. Tarantula.
After getting away with a series of muggings, the friends are finally caught by the police. In an effort to save his crew from prison, Mr. Wolf makes a deal with a do-gooder guinea pig named Professor Marmalade: the “bad guys” will change their ways.
Although they have no intention of keeping their promise, the “bad guys” begin to perform good deeds, and Mr. Wolf begins to realize that there are benefits to doing good. He realizes that maybe he secretly always wanted to be a “good guy”. When a new villain threatens the town, Mr. Wolf is tasked with persuading the rest of the gang to truly become “good guys.”
Based on the New York Times bestselling book series by Aaron Blabey, “The Bad Guys” is directed by Pierre Perifel and stars Sam Rockwell, Craig Robinson, Marc Maron, Anthony Ramos and more.
In an interview with The Christian Post, Perifel reflected on some of the film’s deeper themes, including the idea that anyone can change despite their past.
Due to his species, Mr. Wolf and his crew are viewed by society as “bad guys”. It doesn’t matter how nice the Tarantula is to people; they still run away screaming once they see her skinny legs. And while Professor Marmalade is known for his good deeds, and even received a coveted award for his impeccable character, he may not be as moral as he seems.
“You identify with what the rest of society projects on you, but it doesn’t mean it’s you,” Perifel said. “And that’s kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy for these bad guys; It’s like, ‘We’re bad, so I guess we don’t have anything else to do but prove that we’re bad or do bad things.’ But… how you are born does not represent who you are, or what your people project onto you does not represent who you are.”
The film, he said, is ultimately about “stereotyping” and not judging a book by its cover: “If you’re a good person, if your actions are the right ones, then you’re going to be a good person. Your actions define who you are, not how you’re born. It was very important for us to convey that message. … to me, that was a big one that we needed to overcome.”
Maron, who voices Mr. Snake, one of the film’s most interesting and misunderstood subjects, agreed that “The Bad Guys” ultimately calls for empathy and compassion, themes he says apply to viewers of all ages.
“I think people forget that whatever they’re taking in from someone unless it’s in their everyday life, it’s just one reaction at a time,” the comedian emphasized. “And that person you are reacting to or judging has another 23 hours in their day… you have no idea what anyone’s life is like, or what their struggles are, you can always assume they are just as challenging as yours, if not more so. . All human beings go through a certain amount of struggle and difficulty and you need to approach them with empathy rather than judgment.”
“The Bad Guys” is rated PG for action and crude humor, including some petty humor. A fast-paced heist film, it also features cartoonish violence including explosions, fighting, and characters getting hit by a car.
But like the books it’s based on, the movie provides positive content that families can discuss together, something Maron says drew him to the movie.
“The idea that we could make this movie that is really an adult world, even in terms of the structure of the movie, but still with these basic themes of friendship and judgment…was exciting, because I think that’s the real challenge. … I am very touched by the idea that parents can do something with their children and not be nervous about it. So I was happy to be a part of something that was aimed at providing that.”
Perifel, who is also a father, said the responsibility of creating family-friendly content is not lost on him. His passion for animation gives him the perfect opportunity to do just that.
“I fell in love with animation before thinking about making movies for that audience,” he said. “It turns out that animation is primarily made for that audience. And since I am also a father, I think that everything converges perfectly.
“I think also through this, it was a personal challenge to say, ‘What if we try to make this movie as a gateway to adult movies, but for kids?’ And therefore, through it… we achieve a balance that is very interesting.
Because it pleases adults, but also children love it. … I think ‘Bad Guys’ works very well for that reason.”
“Bad Guys” hits theaters nationwide on April 22.
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Animated comedy ‘The Bad Guys’ teaches kids to examine character, not outward appearance: stars
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