Friday, May 20, 2022

Movie Review: ‘The Bad Guys’ features family-friendly action

By Matt Pascarella

Rated: PG

Runtime: 1 hour, 40 minutes

What if bad guys try to turn good? Or at least attempted to? Meet Wolf, Snake, Shark, Tarantula and Piranha; they’ve been successfully pulling heists all over the city for a while and have a room full of stolen goods and cash to prove it. These are the cards they’ve been dealt, so they may as well play them. As Wolf tells the camera in the beginning,

“We may be bad, but we’re so good at it.”

“The Bad Guys” is actioned-packed right from the start and keeps a pretty good pace throughout the movie. It stars Sam Rockwell, Marc Maron, Awkwafina, Craig Robinson, Anthony Ramos, Richard Ayoade, Zazie Beetz, Lilly Singh and Alex Borstein.

After the gang of Wolf (Rockwell), Snake (Maron), Tarantula (Awkwafina), Piranha (Ramos) and Shark (Robinson) have pulled off another heist, they are celebrating in their home adorned with the many valuables they’ve stolen over the years. They appear on the news and get excited because their handywork has drawn attention.

However, their excitement drops as Governor Foxington (Beetz) says the group is unoriginal and on the decline.

Wolf wants to show her who’s on the decline by stealing the Golden Dolphin Award to be given to Professor Marmalade (Ayoade) for being an upstanding citizen.

When they try to steal the Golden Dolphin, it doesn’t go the way they want.

Police Chief Luggins (Borstein) declares it the end of the bad guys – until Professor Marmalade steps in and says they deserve a second chance.

He says he will turn them into the good guys.

Wolf goes along with this only in theory. He tells the others they should only pretend to want to turn good.

After the group goes on a heist for good to save animals from being tested on, Wolf is thanked by Governor Foxington and tells him a Wolf and Fox aren’t so different.

Is it possible Wolf really wants to turn good? What would it be if the world loved them instead of hated them?

The group plans another heist to steal a valuable meteor at Professor Marmalade’s gala, but this one also gets a little sidelined. And it looks like they’ve been framed.

After meeting the Queen of Cons, the Crimson Paw, the group turns on each other and some go their separate ways. However, that’s not the end of the story.

The way Wolf, Snake, Shark, Tarantula and Piranha worked together with each member helping to commit their part of the crime reminded me of the TV show “Leverage.”

“The Bad Guys” is fun for kids and adults. It’s action-packed, has a great soundtrack with nice messages about friendship and going from bad to good. I thought it was funny for those of any age, though not a lot of adult humor that might go over younger viewers heads. The action is solid without being overly violent and not gory or bloody.

Two diamonds up.

Make sure to stick around through the credits.

Now playing in theaters and available to rent. < 


Friday, May 6, 2022

Movie Review: ‘The Batman’ very long, but adequate

By Matt Pascarella

Rated: PG-13

Runtime: 2 hours, 56 minutes

Gotham is crime-stricken and only getting worse. When current Gotham mayor Don Mitchell Jr. is murdered in his home, what – or who – will it take to get this city back on track?

There is already a vigilante trying to clean up the city. This retelling of the famous caped crusader is not a continuation of other Batman movies. It stands alone and starts more in the middle of Bruce Wayne’s story.

Spoiler alert: Wayne becomes an orphan after his parents are murdered. However, in this version, the antagonist is out to paint Wayne’s father, Thomas, as more of a bad guy and less of a victim.

Batman mentions in the beginning of the movie he must choose his targets carefully; it’s a big city and he can’t be everywhere all the time.

With such a long runtime, “The Batman” dragged a bit in the middle but had solid action. This movie stars Robert Pattinson, Zoe Kravitz, Jeffrey Wright, Colin Farrell, Paul Dano, John Turturro, Andy Serkis, Jayme Lawson and Peter Sarsgaard.

“I am the shadows, I am vengeance,” Batman says in the very beginning.

Another spoiler: Batman is Bruce Wayne (Pattinson). Wayne is talking with Alfred (Serkis) who wants him to attend a financial meeting. Wayne tells him he cares more about the city than maintaining his fortune or legacy.

After the mayor is murdered, Batman goes to a club where he meets the Penguin (Farrell) in order to find out who killed the mayor. Here he meets Selina Kyle (Kravitz). Later on, we learn how she is linked to mob boss Carmine Falcone (Tuturro).

Another murder occurs and clues are left behind directed at Batman.

The District Attorney makes an appearance at the governor’s memorial, courtesy of the Riddler (Dano).

Gotham residents are understandably unsettled, and police are not a fan of Batman’s vigilante work, but Commissioner Gordon (Wright) tells him he’s the only one he trusts.

Batman and Selina agree to work together to catch the Riddler. The Riddler continues to find ways to make Gotham worse, like flood it.

Batman says things will get worse before they get better. Gotham loves a comeback story.

In this version Batman is very brooding, which I found annoying. Large parts of the movie are very dark, both in subtext and physically, making it hard to see what was happening.

However, the last 30 minutes are visually excellent. I think it helps to know a bit of Batman’s backstory and the villains that terrorize Gotham, but it is not required to enjoy this movie.

It’s by no means my favorite Batman as “The Dark Knight” is hard to beat, also Michael Keaton’s version is quite good. I would recommend seeing this in the theater to get the full effect, but you could also pass on this one, as I believe there are better versions out there. I give this one bat lasso up.

Now playing in theaters and streaming on HBO Max. <