"Villains Inc." (2024) [MidWest WeirdFest]

by Joseph Perry and Mike Imboden

In our “The Good, the Bad, and the Verdict” film reviews, Joseph and Mike give their thoughts on a slice of cinema. For this installment, it’s the supervillain comedy Villains Inc., from Jeremy Warner, Jason Gray, Matt Moen, and Team Squad Media.

After the death of their villainous boss, low-level henchpeople Beatrix (Mallory Everton), Cain (Jason Gray), and Harold (Colin Mochrie) are left destitute living in an abandoned grocery store. Not content with this situation, Beatrix is determined for them to strike out on their own and take over the world by any means necessary. 

The Good
Joseph:  I don’t want to simply write about Villains Inc., I want to — to quote the rock band Starz — “Sing it, shout it, tell the world about it” because this movie is an absolute blast! On the other hand, I don’t want to give too much away about it, either, because future viewers need to go in cold so they can experience this clever feature in the freshest possible way. Honestly, every minute of Villains Inc. was a delight for me. The jokes land, from the broad to the subtle; the protagonists are a lovable bunch of characters for whom it is a cinch to root; the screenplay by Warner, Gray, and Matt Moen is whip-smart; and the production values are of a wonderfully high order. Everton is phenomenal as the lead wanna-be villain Beatrix, and Gray and Mochrie are also incredible as her cohorts Cain and Harold. Billy Mann as Alex, the trio’s new intern, leads the impressive, sizable supporting cast. Warner, Everton, Gray, Moen, and other members of the cast and crew started out together on the television sketch comedy series Studio C before some of them formed JK! Studios, and their work as teammates is obviously a strong reason for the success of Villains Inc.

Mike: They say that everyone is the hero of their own story, and there’s no doubt that the heroes of Villains Inc. are Beatrix, Cain, and Harold, the three henchpersons who have dreams of bigger and better things.  There’s a lot of fun to be had with this superhero - ahem… superVILLAIN movie, from the all-in portrayals of the characters to some interesting and often clever camera work and everything in-between.  
It’s hard to single out anything when a movie hits on pretty much every point you hope it hits on.  As a die-hard fanatic of comics and superhero movies, I always enjoy an original take on the genre and by not just focusing on the villains but digging deep into what drives them, this does pretty good insofar as an original property can be.  
The acting by Mallory Everton, Colin Mochrie, and Jason Gray is great as each of them create truly outstanding characters that easily stand out from one another - and while Everton has a bit more of the focus on her than the others, none of them are more important than another.
The script is smart and the humor is a perfect storm that ranges from the background gags to the outrageous with very few jokes failing to land.

The Bad
Joseph: I honestly have nothing to quibble out for this section.

Mike: I feel like with ‘Bad’ in our name it’s my duty to provide SOMETHING that isn’t as good as it could be, but honestly I can’t really think of anything.  Normally with such a wide range of humor on display there’s always a case of some jokes either going on too long or failing to deliver a decent payoff, but that doesn’t really happen here.  So I guess this should be up in the Good section, maybe.  Seriously, while this isn’t a 10-out-of-10 perfect movie, any nitpicking would be just that and not really worth the time to mention.

The Verdict
Joseph: An all-ages comedy that shows great affection for superhero movies while wittily sending them up, Villains Inc. has cemented a spot in my top 10 favorite films of this year. Having performed in family-friendly improv comedy groups for more than six years, I can attest to the fact that clean comedy is harder to create than frequently dropping expletives and reaching for the lowest hanging fruit, so what Warner and his cast and crew have pulled off here is no easy feat. Mystery Men is my favorite superhero comedy, and now, thanks to Villains Inc., I have a favorite supervillain comedy. I give this film my highest recommendation.

Mike: It’s not often that a whole movie is dedicated to the “bad guys”.  Sure, we get anti-heroes, and there’s always a fair amount of villain screen time in the Marvel and DC movies, but one about some low-level henchmen? Not so much and that’s part of what makes Villains Inc. such a blast to watch.
Some of the funnier non-mainstream superhero movies get some laughs from R-rated jokes, sorta playing them as a juxtaposition of the (incorrect) assumption that colorful heroes are just for kids.  Villains Inc. manages to avoid going that route and firmly embraces its family-friendly presentation.
I’m pretty confident that just about any true superhero aficionado will enjoy this quirky and funny story of three friends just trying to make a name for themselves.

Villains Inc.
, from Team Squad Media, screens as part of MidWest WeirdFest, which runs March 1–3, 2024 in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. For more information, visit https://www.midwestweirdfest.com/.

Villains Inc.
Directed By: Jeremy Warner
Written By: Jason Gray, Matt Moen, Jeremy Warner
Starring: Mallory Everton, Colin Mochrie, Jason Gray
Run Time: 1h 42m
Rating: PG-13
Release Date: 2024