May 20, 2024

The Bad Guys: A Very Bad Holiday 2023 Movie Review

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The Bad Guys: A Very Bad Holiday 2023 Movie Review

    Thing is, the Bad Guys actually want to be on Santa’s Naughty List. They’re way into coal! To each their own, right? And now here they are – Mr. Wolf (Michael Godere), Mr. Shark (Ezekiel Ajeijbe), Mr. Piranha (Raul Ceballos), Mr. Snake (Chris Diamantopoulos) and Ms. Tarantula (Mallory Low) – cruising through the city in their convertible on Christmas Eve. They’re scoping out their favorite, most-rob-able joints, including the stinky-cheese store and the giant corporate bank. It’s all part of their holiday tradition: Waiting for everyone to stay home on Christmas day, leaving the streets and stores empty, and therefore making it easier for any thieving crooks to burgle the living crud out of them.

    Heisting for the holidays is how they celebrate the joy and togetherness of the season – and at this point, Mr. Wolf turns to the camera and explains how this story is set back when “the Bad Guys were still bad,” thus proving his great and mighty omniscience, which is something you’d think he might use to make stealing that much easier. I mean, omniscience gives him godlike control over the narrative, so why he doesn’t use that power to make bank security guards fall asleep or whatever is beyond me.

    Then again, what fun would that be? So let’s cease poking holes in the setup and get back to summarizing things. The residents of the city are, in the words of the Bad Guys, “freakishly emotionally attached” to a giant inflatable parade Santa, which our antiheroes accidentally destroy. You’d think, being villains, they’d enjoy seeing the locals suffer, but the effect counteracts their plan: Without their giant Santa, the citizenry has lost the Christmas spirit, and no longer will celebrate with gifts and nog and political arguments over glazed ham, and will resume their daily activities of making sure their cheese and money don’t get stolen. The Bad Guys consider alternatives, like constructing a new Santa balloon (it’s horrendously ugly!) or unleashing RoboClaus (it’s terribly threatening!) to boost spirits, but they’re non-starters. Then Mr. Wolf comes up with the idea of stealing presents from chain stores and distributing them to everyone like Santa, which is ingenious, because it means they’re helping sad people be happy so they can rob them and make them sad again. Now that’s the kind of circular, convoluted logic a person can get behind!

    A Very Bad Holiday does just enough with its premise – villains do good things to further enable their badness – to skate by on its modest charms. The same was true of the full-length movie, which maybe tried a little too hard to appeal to adults and children with its blend of heist-movie spoofery and talking-animal silliness, but the formula works reasonably well. So once again, we get a flash-foward-with-voiceover heist montage (a clear Guy Ritchie parody), and goofy hijinks (a side scheme in which the Bad Guys hack a radio station that’s subbed out gloomy death metal for Christmas music), and therefore, everyone’s happy, right? Yeah, sure, why not?

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but the 21st century has yet to produce anything that’ll be the younger generation’s Grinch or A Charlie Brown Christmas (or Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas!). This isn’t going to be it either, but there’s plenty of Boss Baby/Shrek/How to Train Your Dragon/etc. Dreamworks Xmas spinoff fodder already out there (a lot of it also on Netflix) that A Very Bad Holiday matches tonally and aesthetically. All of it is amusing (OK, maybe not Boss Baby), if not quite laugh-out-loud funny. But there’s far worse IP out there to eminently exploit for holiday cheer (go away, Trolls), and the winkingly self-aware Bad Guys is entertaining enough to stave off any bah-humbugs for a half-hour.

    The Bad Guys: A Very Bad Holiday 2023 Movie Review