The Bad Boys is in many ways a fairly typical family animated film. It has a cast of charming and snappy talking animals, a bright animation style, fast-paced and physics-defying action sequences, and more than a few jokes that only work on viewers between the ages of 2 and 10. but The Bad Boys is also a crime comedy in the same style as Ocean’s Elevena film that is definitely not considered “family friendly” simply because it “condones” criminal behavior.
Combining its traditional, kid-friendly elements with a storyline that was clearly inspired by several much more outlandish heist films, The Bad Boys ends up as an unexpected combination of two opposite genres. Even more surprising is the fact that The Bad Boys mostly manages to create the same kind of magic that’s found in so many of the crime comedies that their creators clearly admire.
That is, while The Bad Boys is still a film that feels the need to deliver an easily digestible moral lesson, it’s also the kind of film that’s willing to open with a scene that’s a clear homage to the prologue of pulp fiction.
Directed by Pierre Perifel and written by Etan Cohen, The Bad Boys focuses on a group of anthropomorphic animals who have accepted their place as the main villains of most stories. There’s Mr. Wolf (Sam Rockwell), Mr. Snake (Marc Maron), Mr. Piranha (Anthony Ramos), Mr. Shark (Craig Robinson), and Ms. Tarantula (Awkwafina), each bringing their unique abilities and personalities to the table her eccentric crime outfit.
The film begins with Mr. Wolf and Mr. Snake seated at a quiet diner in town and follows them as they argue about their food preferences for several minutes before crossing the street to rob a nearby bank. In the ensuing chase, Mr. Wolf breaks the fourth wall to introduce viewers to himself and the rest of his teammates. It’s an entertaining and well-constructed opening sequence that combines elements from films such as Out of sight, pulp fictionand Fast & Furious before it comes to its inevitable, intentionally ridiculous conclusion.
From there, The Bad Boys follows his central crew as they attempt to steal an award from a gala event set to celebrate a wealthy philanthropist named Rupert Marmalade IV (Richard Ayoade). However, things go awry when a moment of heroism from Mr. Wolf results in him and his team being forced to undergo a series of character rehabilitation exercises, all overseen by Marmalade.
It’s when the film’s titular crew comes under Marmalade’s watchful eye The Bad Boys comes dangerously close to collapse. The tests the characters undergo in the film all seem uninspired, and Cohen’s script never pushes the concept as far as it could. Luckily, the film doesn’t spend too much of its runtime on it The Bad Boys‘ sticks to jam and quickly ends it with an effective, if obvious, twist.
Once The Bad Boys hits the plot beat in question (which will not be spoiled in this review), it more or less kicks into high gear as it moves into its third act. The film begins to pick up on many of the seeds planted in its opening section, unfolding a series of stylish and fun action sequences punctuated by satisfying and genuinely clever twists. Taking a page out of every great heist movie, the film’s finale is filled with constant power shifts and tongue-in-cheek contradictions all contributing to it The Bad Boys‘ various storylines and character arcs to their inevitable conclusions.
For his part, Perifel, who makes his directorial debut with The Bad Boys, fills the film with beautiful animated images and slick, well-edited action sequences. The film takes its absurdist premise visually, opting for a cartoonish and goofy style that makes it look markedly different from many of the high-budget CG animation films that are released these days. Perifel also gives the film a warm color palette that emphasizes its golds, reds and blacks, making it all the more enjoyable to watch.
Predictably, the film’s family-friendly tone prevents its ending from existing on the same kind of morally neutral ground that most great crime films inhabit. In his final moments The Bad Boys does everything it can to wrap up its storylines as cleanly as possible, a decision that not only stretches the film’s internal logic at points but also robs many of its characters of their charming complexity.
But that twists that The Bad Boys used to bring its characters to their respective endpoints, all are fun and clever in their own way, making the film’s final 10 minutes a satisfying experience to watch, despite the enforced cleanliness of its conclusion. In other words, while the film certainly doesn’t deliver the perfect heist, it manages to do most of what it sets out to do.
The Bad Boys hits US theaters on Friday, April 22.
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