From The Bad Guys trailer to Sam Rockwell’s ice-cool Mr Wolf – here’s everything you need to know about the new DreamWorks animation billed as “Tarantino for kids”

The Bad Guys

© 2021 DreamWorks Animation LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Starring Sam Rockwell as the wiseguy leader of an animal crime gang, The Bad Guys is DreamWorks’ sharpest and coolest animation yet.

From The Bad Guys trailer to an exclusive cast table read, here’s why you need to badda-book your tickets.

The Bad Guys release date: April 1st

What do I need to know about The Bad Guys?

There’s something about bad guys. Admit it: when Darth Vader put out a gloved hand and beckoned Luke Skywalker to the Dark Side, you were tempted. Be honest: when Mark Darcy and Daniel Cleaver squabble-fought over Bridget Jones, you were cheering on Hugh Grant’s twinkly love rat.

It’s the same deal with The Bad Guys. Sure, you could watch one of the other hit family animations about anthropomorphic animals with impeccable moral compasses. But where’s the fun in that? Back in 2016, Australian author Aaron Blabey’s best-selling children’s book series introduced us to the coolest crime gang in town, led by a pickpocket grey wolf who dressed and drawled like a goodfella.

Now, thanks to the animation gods at DreamWorks – alongside French director Pierre Perifel, noted for his work on Kung Fu Panda – The Bad Guys’ getaway car comes screeching onto the big screen, with dollar bills fluttering from a bag and a chorus of police sirens in their wake.

“My original pitch for this movie,” explained Blabey to The AU Review, “was ‘Tarantino for kids’…


DreamWorks Animation is kind of a big deal, isn’t it?

Just a bit. Shrek, Kung Fu Panda, How To Train Your Dragon, Boss Baby… this hotshot Californian animation studio and Universal offshoot is right up there with Pixar for spitting out whipsmart kids films (which also make adults chortle and bawl).

Now, based on The Bad Guys trailer – and the fact that Blabey has written 20 books and counting – we could have another tentpole franchise on our hands.

Who’s who in The Bad Guys movie?

Let’s scan the rap sheets of our new favourite animal anti-heroes. You already know about ice-cool Mr Wolf (played by Oscar-winner Sam Rockwell, of Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri fame). You’d better hide your jewellery from safecracking cynic Mr. Snake (GLOW’s Marc Maron).

Mr. Wolf (Sam Rockwell), Mr. Piranha (Anthony Ramos), Mr. Snake (Marc Maron), Ms. Tarantula (Awkwafina) and Mr. Shark (Craig Robinson) in DreamWorks Animation’s The Bad Guys, directed by Pierre Perifel.

© 2021 DreamWorks Animation LLC. All Rights Reserved.

The Bad Guys’ resident master of disguise is Mr. Shark (Craig Robinson from Hot Tub Time Machine). For muscle, the gang turns to hair trigger-tempered enforcer Mr. Piranha (In The Heights’ Anthony Ramos).

And when it comes to slicing through firewalls like a hot knife through butter, there’s acid-tongued computer hacker Ms. Tarantula (Awkwafina from Crazy Rich Asians). Just call her ‘Webs’…



What happens in The Bad Guys trailer?

It’s business as usual for The Bad Guys. From scams and swindles to heists and hustles, these outlaws are all-in. But when crime finally stops paying and The Bad Guys end up behind bars, the only way to dodge a ten-stretch is to broker a deal. Whisper it, but Mr Wolf and his mob are putting their life of crime behind them and going straight.

Don’t worry: they’re not really. With a little help from their mentor Professor Marmalade (Richard Ayoade), the crew find that tricking the world with their ‘good guy’ routine is the easiest racket of all. But when Mr Wolf starts to feel the acceptance he’s always secretly craved – and a new super-villain arrives to threaten the city in their absence – The Bad Guys have to pick a side.

“I feel the film directs us to a reality,” considers Perifel. “If you did something wrong, you always have the opportunity to redeem yourself. Sometimes you can make bad decisions, but that does not define you.”

Who’s in The Bad Guys cast?

It’s funny how things work out. In his role as executive producer, Blabey started by drawing up a wishlist of the actors he believed could bring his characters to life – and Sam Rockwell happened to be right at the top for Mr Wolf (“I’ve been a fan since before The Green Mile”).

“It ended up being the coolest cast you can imagine,” Perifel told the Popcorn Podcast. “And it all started with Sam Rockwell, really, who was the perfect casting for Mr Wolf. It’s unexpected and at the same time, so intriguing, to have a cast like this.”

Elsewhere, the talent in The Bad Guys vocal booth spans from the hysterical OTT riffing of Craig Robinson as the drama-queen Mr Shark, to the snide asides of Professor Marmalade, in a role that couldn’t be more perfect for superbrained British comedian and IT Crowd legend Richard Ayoade.

As you’ll see from this hilarious table read, even in their human form, The Bad Guys cast chemistry couldn’t be fizzier. So just imagine how funny they’ll be when they get all that award-winning DreamWorks animation sloshed all over them…

If I liked The Bad Guys books, will I like The Bad Guys movie?

The badda-bing humour of Blabey’s original books attracted the coolest kids, and DreamWorks haven’t watered that down. “The Bad Guys movie has taken the DNA of the books and it’s become its own thing, but in a really satisfying way,” the author told the Popcorn Podcast. “So if kids love the books, they’re gonna go and see everything they recognise and love. But if you come in cold, you’ll hopefully dig the universe just as much.”

Meanwhile, Perifel revelled in his chance to explore a whole new sub-genre of cinema (let’s give it the working title of ‘junior crime’). As the director points out: “A heist movie for children has never really been done.”

What is The Bad Guys release date – and why should I see it at ODEON?

The Bad Guys release date might be April Fool’s Day – but we’re not busting your chops when we tell you this new animated family movie is a must-see. And with DreamWorks pushing the envelope further than ever before, you’ll want to catch all that squillion-dollar animation up there on the silver screen.

“Basically, The Bad Guys is my love letter to cinema, in many ways,” says Blabey.

“It’s a culmination of everything I love within action movies, and this is the type of film you want to see on the big screen. It kicks off with a sensational opening…”

Catch The Bad Guys at ODEON from April 1

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