Courtesy DreamWorks

Charmingly designed and full of twists and turns, Pierre Perifel’s The Bad Guys deserves the moniker that people will most certainly give it—Ocean’s Eleven with animals. The members of the titular crew (made up of a wolf, a shark, a snake, a tarantula, and a piranha) are treated like criminals, so they become criminals—successful ones, until they make the mistake of trying to secure their legacy with one big score. When they’re caught mid-theft, they con their way into a second chance, arguing that maybe the bad guys could become good guys if given a little leeway.

The Bad Guys crew is cool enough that they’re fun to watch and just enough of a mess (and emotionally vulnerable) that they’re likable. The movie is clever, playing with heist movie tropes while also presenting a dynamic, interesting, and funny tableau of animation. There are fart jokes and butt jokes, but the movie doesn’t rely on them, and it serves up a few definite laugh-out-loud moments alongside the heavier emotional beats (the best of which are performed touchingly by Sam Rockwell as Wolf and Marc Maron as Snake). 

Overall, the movie is really enjoyable, but if you end up treating its framework as a one-to-one comparison to real prejudice (which the movie invites, as the characters are judged by their appearances), it can begin to feel a bit like victim blaming. There is a moment or two in the middle of the film where it seems like the movie might go a little deeper and explore the nuance of how society treats the Bad Guys, but the film’s pat ending seems to ignore those loose ends, instead arguing that the maligned characters just need to be a little more good, and then society will welcome them with open arms. PG, 100 min.

Wide release in theaters