The Bad Guys parents guide

The Bad Guys Parent Guide

This is a fun, clever, exciting heist movie with a surprising message about the intrinsic rewards of making good moral choices.

Overall A

Theaters: In this animated comedy, a group of criminals try to become good, but things don't work out quite the way they expect.

Release date April 22, 2022

Violence B
Sexual Content A
Profanity A-
Substance Use A-

Why is The Bad Guys rated PG? The MPAA rated The Bad Guys PG for action and rude humor

Run Time: 100 minutes

Parent Movie Review

The Bad Guys are a notorious gang of criminals with a knack for pulling off successful heists. One day their luck turns and Wolf (Sam Rockwell), Snake (Marc Maron), Shark (Craig Robinson), Tarantula (Awkwafina), and Piranha (Anthony Ramos), get caught in a heist gone wrong. To stay out of prison, they must convince the leaders of their city that they can turn over a new leaf and become good. With no intention of actually reforming, the gang start taking “goodness lessons” from the altruistic Professor Marmalade (Richard Ayoade), but they soon discover that doing good might actually feel better than being bad.

I worked at my city’s public library for a little while, and I can tell you that it was impossible to keep The Bad Guys graphic novels on the shelves. I don’t think I ever worked a shift without at least one child asking me if we had any copies left. When an incredibly popular book series gets turned into a movie, I get nervous. I grew up in the age of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events and those horrible live-action Dr. Seuss adaptations, so I know first-hand how badly these cinematic ventures can turn out. Even though I haven’t read the source material for this film, I can tell that it is a fantastic adaptation. My theater was packed full of kids, and I overheard many of them talking about how much they enjoyed the film.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the book’s world building, there are going to be some moments of confusion. This version of Los Angeles is primarily occupied by humans, but it also contains anthropomorphic animals as well as regular pet animals: it makes no sense. Also, Shark and Piranha just walk around on land, and no one acknowledges it. I’m sure kids won’t be bothered, but adults need to accept it and move on; it will make your viewing experience much more enjoyable than trying to puzzle out the inconsistencies.

Outside of that, The Bad Guys is a fun, clever, exciting heist movie. My love of heist films is well documented, so I was very excited to find a kid-friendly take on the genre that is worth watching. I laughed, I was surprised by the twists, and I got emotionally invested in the character arcs. There are lots of fun set pieces, clever jokes, and some deeper messages about biases, stereotypes, and the intrinsic value of doing good things. My five-year-old told me on the drive home that it is “good to be good”, which is worth the price of admission.

For a heist story, The Bad Guys is as close to being free of objectionable content as I think it’s possible to be. Of course, there’s some fighting and a bit of peril, but it’s all done with a comedic tone that prevents any real scariness or aggression. I will point out that there are a lot of fart and butt jokes, which got a few eye rolls from me but a lot of laughs from the kids. The fantastic performances and positive messages more than made up for that potty humor, in my opinion. For a film all about being bad, it sure ends up being good.

Directed by Pierre Perifel. Starring Sam Rockwell, Marc Maron, Craig Robinson, Anthony Ramos, Awkwafina. Running time: 100 minutes. Theatrical release April 22, 2022. Updated

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The Bad Guys
Rating & Content Info

Why is The Bad Guys rated PG? The Bad Guys is rated PG by the MPAA for action and rude humor

Violence: There is comedic heist-related slapstick violence throughout including car chases, explosions, and martial arts fights. A character is hit by a car but is not injured. A character is hit on the head with a heavy object and knocked unconscious. Two characters are briefly dangled over sharp spinning blades. An animal tries to eat some other animals.
Sexual Content: None.
Profanity: There is a single mild expletive and some insults such as “weirdo” and “sucker”.
Alcohol / Drug Use: At fancy galas, characters are seen holding champagne and martini glasses, although it is never specified that the drinks are alcoholic.

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The Bad Guys Parents' Guide

How does Wolf feel when he does good things for other people? Have you ever felt like that?
Why do The Bad Guys feel like they have to be bad? How do other people see them? What are some ways that that stereotyping happens in real life?

Loved this movie? Try these books…

This movie is based on the graphic novel series of the same name, The Bad Guys, by Aaron Blabey. With well over a dozen books in print, there’s plenty for your kids to savor.

Elementary school aged readers looking for silly fun can try Cyndi Marko’s Kung Pow Chicken series. It begins with Let’s Get Cracking!

Dav Pilkey, best known for his Captain Underpants series, is also the creator of Dog Man. Designed to make kids laugh, the books feature a canine/human hybrid who works as a police officer, trying to keep his community safe from comic mayhem.

Home Video

Related home video titles:

Anthropomorphic animals live in Zootopia, where a bunny rabbit dreams of becoming a police officer and catching bad guys.

A villain turns out to be a pretty good guy in Despicable Me. Another baddie has a change of heart in Megamind.