The Bad Guys Reviews Are Here, Check Out What Critics Are Saying About The DreamWorks Animated Movie

The Bad Guys.
(Image credit: Universal)

We know there are those of you out there who root for the bad guy. DreamWorks Animation must know it too, and their upcoming movie The Bad Guys gives you plenty of them (duh). The trailer for the film, which shows off its A-list cast, makes it look like a pretty fun heist flick, with even some Reservoir Dogs inspiration, but what else can we expect from Pierre Perifel’s feature directorial debut? The critics have screened the movie, and they’re here to help us figure that out.

Voicing the animated bad guys are Sam Rockwell, Marc Maron, Anthony Ramos, Craig Robinson and Awkwafina. This group of criminal animals who, upon being caught, pretend to attempt to reform themselves as model citizens. However, leader of the pack Wolf (Rockwell), is unexpectedly drawn to change his ways for real. So what’s the verdict? Let’s check out what the critics have to say, starting with the CinemaBlend review of The Bad Guys

Our own Eric Eisenberg rates it 3 out of 5 stars, saying while the movie looks fun, it never really tries anything interesting. He says it’s impossible not to notice similarities to 2016 hit Zootopia, and this one doesn’t stack up favorably to the Disney film:

There’s enough to like in The Bad Guys to make it an entertaining diversion, and it draws you in quickly with its Pulp Fiction-esque opening and an early heist – but it’s also a movie that grows to be more disappointing as it unfolds. The movie looks fantastic; it just doesn’t always have the substance to support the style.

Tom Santilli of Movie Show Plus doesn’t give the film quite as much credit, grading it a D. He says the film’s premise is ripe for fun, but there’s nothing good to be found, and the audience — both the children and the adults accompanying them — deserve better:

It feels like low-hanging fruit to criticize an animated film for a flimsy, uninspired and unimaginative plot...but why is this? Why is the bar set so low? We don't lower our standards for our children when it comes to nutrition, or anything else, but it's OK to do so when it comes to the movies they watch? Because kids will watch anything, we should show them anything?

However, for some audiences, it’s hard to beat a redemption story, and Danielle Solzman of Solzy at the Movies enjoyed this one, rating it a 4 out of 5. She draws attention to the beautiful animation — which is one point the critics agree on, even in other, less favorable reviews. Solzman says: 

If this is what the future looks like for DreamWorks Animation, please count me in! I’m not saying all films have to draw on Steven Soderbergh, Guy Ritchie, and Quentin Tarantino but this is one of the most stylish films I’ve seen in 2022.

Frank Schek of The Hollywood Reporter says The Bad Guys is “criminally fun” — especially with some older-generation references to Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs for the grown-ups — although the final act devolves into manic vehicular mayhem. This critic especially likes the casting of well-known actors who are actually well-suited to the roles:

For much of the way, The Bad Guys is antic fun, aided immeasurably by the terrific vocal performances. The ensemble includes many well-known names, but unlike so many celebrities cast in animated films purely for their star value, they actually deliver vivid characterizations that go beyond being recognizable voices. Rockwell’s sly delivery proves consistently delightful, Snake’s flirty banter with [Zazie] Beetz’s Foxington giving [Ocean’s Eleven’s George Clooney and Julia Robers] a run for their money. Maron is so perfectly cast as the grouchy, self-loathing snake you wonder why the character doesn’t have glasses and a moustache.

Aaron Neuwirth of We Live Entertainment rates it a 7 out of 10, saying The Bad Guys incorporates plot twists, compelling character reveals, and engaging action sequences with plenty of space left for jokes and sight gags:

Opening with a heist and a car chase that show off the intentions of this film, there’s a clear desire to blend elements of Looney Tunes, Reservoir Dogs, and Ocean’s Eleven. True to studio form, it doesn’t leave much room for the layered emotional situations found in Pixar’s features, but The Bad Guys hardly feel in need of those sorts of developments. Characters more or less yell out their feelings at a moment’s notice when Etan Cohen’s script calls for change-ups in the story. At the same time, Cohen also adds a level of comedic complexity playing off both the nature of bad guys attempting to go good and the fun of a proper caper.

Josh Spiegel of SlashFilm rates the movie 6.5 out of 10, saying it has its charms but doesn’t quite stand up to some of its Pixar peers, including Luca and Turning Red. He also mentioned the animation style, which he says is a nod to Aaron Blabey’s book series that the movie is adapted from:

The pleasures of The Bad Guys are not driven by the writing feeling particularly fresh or new. In its best moments, The Bad Guys thrives on snappy pacing and a computer-animated style that reflects Blabey's hand-drawn style in the graphic novels themselves. Car-chase sequences in the opening and closing sections of The Bad Guys are genuinely thrilling and represent the high points of the film, largely thanks to director Pierre Perifel (making his feature debut) and his team of animators.

It sounds like critics are all over the place on The Bad Guys, but they do agree on the beautiful animation. Many also mention that the film tries to provide enough shout-outs to other movies to keep the adult portion of the audience on their toes while the kids are otherwise distracted by the more expected child-geared humor (yes, I’m talking about fart jokes). 

If you want to check this one out, you can soon. The Bad Guys premieres in theaters on Friday, April 22. While you’re at it, take a look at our 2022 Movie Release Schedule to see what other films are coming soon. 

Heidi Venable
Content Producer

Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Thrives on New Orleans Saints football, The West Wing and taco trucks.