‘The Bad Guys’: How Quentin Tarantino Inspired This Kids Movie

Dreamworks’ animated movie The Bad Guys is about talking animals who try to turn good. Led by the Big Bad Wolf (Sam Rockwell), the gang includes Snake (Marc Maron), Piranha (Anthony Ramos), Tarantula (Awkwafina) and Shark (Craig Robinson). So it may be surprising that this family-friendly romp has very adult Quentin Tarantino inspirations.

'The Bad Guys' plan a heist in front of the cops, in an homage to Quentin Tarantino
L-R: Shark, Wolf, Piranha, and Snake | Dreamworks Animation LLC

The Bad Guys is now available on 4K UHD, Blu-ray and DVD. In the bonus features, the creators of the movie discuss how Tarantino gave them the basis for the film’s action. 

‘The Bad Guys’ is ‘a Quentin Tarantino movie for kids’;

Tarantino’s movies like Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood are full of language and violence kids shouldn’t see yet. Frankly, they’d probably be bored by the crime and historical plots. But, Tarantino’s heist movies like Reservoir Dogs and other movies featuring crime gangs found their way into The Bad Guys.

“[Director] Pierre [Perifel] had this great perspective on this film of being like a Quentin Tarantino movie for kids,” story lead Matt Flynn said. “So we immediately started looking at the classic heist movies, movies that were oozing with this contemporary style.”

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Perifel elaborated on his aesthetic. “It’s a blend of silliness and sophistication, of cool and stupid that is appealing to adults as well as kids,” Perifel said. “With characters that are incredibly fun to look at and see interact with each other.”

‘The Bad Guys’ had to out Tarantino Quentin Tarantino

One of Tarantino’s tricks is he often likes to omit the actual heist. Reservoir Dogs only shows the aftermath. So, The Bad Guys combined Tarantino’s style and tone with movies that do show the heist. 

“We collided it with this super fun cartoony funny silly animated style,” Story Artist Katherine de Vries said. “And it created a really fresh take on the heist genre that we haven’t really seen before.”

The heist wasn’t scripted, so it was up to the animators to figure out how The Bad Guys pull it off. 

“We made a big board with push pins and everything, mapping out this massive heist and what is each character doing?” de Vries said. “What’s their specialty?”

Flynn laid out The Bad Guys’ role in the heist. 

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“Wolf is the front man,” Flynn said. “He kind of drew all the eyes. Piranha was the grease man. Shark was the distraction. The goal was to take the sophistication of actually planning a heist as they would do in a live-action movie and add that cartoony spin on it. So everything had to have this underlying sophistication, but then what can the animated characters do that a live-action character cannot. So Piranha coming through the toilet and Snake literally shedding his disguise.”

Quentin Tarantino would be proud 

Tarantino may actually see The Bad Guys and recognize the influence. He does watch all movies, including animated ones. He once called Toy Story 3 the best movie of the year, according to The Wrap.

“The heist just felt like everything about it is the DNA of Bad Guys,” Flynn said. “It’s cool, it’s sleek, all the characters are working as a well oiled machine but it’s also really silly, goofy and fun.”

Perifel went back further than Tarantino to discuss his interest in The Bad Guys. He said the original books inspired him.

“The first time I heard of The Bad Guys was when I saw the first book of the series from Aaron Blabey,” Perifel said. “I immediately went back to my desk and did a sketch of those characters because they were so inspiring.”

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