Tue. Jul 5th, 2022

Arriving in time for the Easter school holidays, The Bad Guys imagines five wisecracking and very literally-named animals – Mr Wolf (voiced by Sam Rockwell), Mr Snake (Marc Maron), Ms Tarantula (Awkwafina), Mr Shark (Craig Robinson) and Mr Piranha (Anthony Ramos) – who form a criminal passage. When they get sloppy on a heist and are caught by the authorities, goodie-goodie guinea pig Professor Marmalade (Richard Ayoade) is hired by the state’s fox governor (Zazie Beetz) to reform their characters and get them on the straight and narrow.

This film (directed by Pierre Perifel) is to The Suicide Squad what Nerf guns are to carbonized metal assault weapons: the kiddie version of a more hard-hitting concept. But although some of the world-building is wonky – why are there only a handful of sentient animals in a story where everyone else is human? – the one-liners are often wry, delivered with rapid-fire gusto.

The humor is closer in tone to the Shrek franchise than a Pixar or Disney movie, which makes sense given that DreamWorks produced it. The animation is beautiful, especially the way light is modeled. But best of all, the ingenuity of the set-pieces and the zippy pace keep you from thinking about any of it too hard.

★★★ ☆☆

In UK cinemas from April 1 and US cinemas from April 22

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