Wolf (Sam Rockwell) leads a gang of hugely successful criminals - Snake (Marc Maron), Piranha (Anthony Ramos), Tarantula (Awkwafina) and Shark (Craig Robinson) - who have to try and go straight after being caught in a heist gone wrong and offered a deal by the city's mayor (Zazie Beetz). However, while the gang initially think it's all a ploy, Wolf is thinking about going straight for real...
As for the concept of 'The Bad Guys' being 'Tarantino for kids', rest assured that this adaptation of Aaron Blabey's books is reliably safe and nowhere near close to anything like that. That said, 'The Bad Guys' is far more enjoyable than those preening fascists in 'Paw Patrol' over in the totalitarian police state of Adventure Bay, although that's a low bar to cross. Really, 'The Bad Guys' makes its case on the strength of its voice cast.
You can absolutely imagine Sam Rockwell signing up for this just by looking at Mr. Wolf. He's slick as hell, he's able to pull off a white suit and not look like the man from Del Monte, and he always has the right quip for any occasion. Likewise, Marc Maron's rasping tones make complete sense as Mr. Snake. The addition of a Hawaiian shirt - how does it hang on his frame if he's got no shoulders?! - to the character design just does wonders. You can see these characters in a real-life setting, so adding animation over them doesn't dilute anything. Rather, the natural banter between Rockwell and Maron grounds everything while the slapstick animation spins everything up.
The supporting cast all do reasonably well in their own way. Richard Ayoade's gentle monotone works well for Professor Marmalade, while Alex Borstein - a voice acting veteran from 'Family Guy' - fits the role of the police chief with ease. Likewise, Zazie Beetz as Diane Foxington has all the required sass for the role. Yet, where 'The Bad Guys' is held back from real greatness is both its story and its script.
At 100 minutes, 'The Bad Guys' takes its sweet time to come to the point of its story and while trying to copy the likes of 'Ocean's 11' might seem like an idea on paper, most of the double-crossing and triple-crossing antics will fly right over the heads of younger audience members and be all too obvious for older audience members. Simply put, a good chunk of the story just doesn't work for anyone watching. Still, it's all so light and breezy with the humour and reliably anarchic that none of these issues will make a bit of difference. Parents and older siblings will enjoy the riffing, kids will enjoy the slapstick humour. Yes, 'The Bad Guys' is pilfering from other heist capers, but so what when it's this much fun?