The Bad Guys serves up sweet musings on the good guys and the bad guys

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“Go bad or go home,” is the mantra of The villains (G), a robbery gang consisting of Wolf (voiced by Sam Rockwell), Snake (Marc Maron), Tarantula (Awkwafina), Shark (Craig Robinson), and Piranha (Anthony Ramos).

Caught in the act of a heist, the Bad Guys are on their way to prison when philanthropic guinea pig (!) Professor Marmalade (Richard Ayoade) offers an alternative: if the Bad Guys take part in his revolutionary new reform program and prove themselves capable of doing the good, they can return to society as free creatures.

Adapted from Aaron Blabey’s youth graphic novels, and directed by Pierre Perifel, The villains is a charming animated feature that asks a deep question: is behavior, good or bad, a matter of nature or nurture?

We’re conditioned to expect the worst of this world’s sharks, piranhas and tarantulas, of course, but where this film scores is by allowing its villains to develop into rounded characters – Snake, for example, might be determined to live the criminal life, but for Snake, it’s a matter of choice and aptitude rather than animal instinct.

Entertaining for kids and adults alike – the latter can enjoy spotting classic heist movie references, which include reservoir dogs and Ocean’s ElevenThe villains is a smooth animation that carries its philosophical musings lightly.

(cinema release)

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