The laughs are easy and breezy at the beginning of “The Bad Guys,” and the animated comedy’s sun-baked vibe radiates Southern California cool.
A wolf named Wolf and a snake named Snake enjoy snappy banter at a retro L.A. diner, having the kind of conversation they’ve probably had countless times over their years of friendship.
They push and pull, all in good-natured fashion. Then they get up, stroll casually across the street, and rob a bank.
Pierre Perifel, making his feature directing debut, lays all of this out in one long, single take, instantly drawing us in to these characters and this world.
It's an extremely familiar set-up, a subgenre unto itself: hyper-verbal thieves charm us into coming along for the ride and rooting for them to pull off their biggest heist yet.
This is a furry, scaly version of Quentin Tarantino or Elmore Leonard—or at least, that’s what it aspires to be.
But it’s a clever change to see such a story told in animated form with a star-studded voice cast including Sam Rockwell, Marc Maron, Zazie Beetz, and Awkwafina.
But the midsection feels saggy and the early zip and swagger wear thin.
Sounds facile, but the script handles these themes with some intelligence.
At the very least, “The Bad Guys” encourages kids not to judge a book by its cover—and maybe even read an actual book about these characters afterward.