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In Theaters


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Emily Tsiao

Movie Review

Beatrix has only ever wanted one thing in life: world domination.

The plan is simple: Obtain a loan to open up a pet store for villains. Embed the little rascals with a kill switch so that they’ll turn on their new masters. And then, through some complex paperwork that the villains will no doubt sign without reading, receive all their financial assets and use the money to take over the world.

Did I say simple? Dastardly, certainly. Inadvisable, obviously. But nothing about Beatrix’s plot is simple.

In fact, nothing about Beatrix’s plot is even attainable.

Before she can put her plan into action, Beatrix will need to become a licensed supervillain herself—a legal profession in the alternate future she lives in. To do that, she’ll need to pass the annual villain tryouts. And if she has any hope of surviving those, she’ll need superpowers. Which she doesn’t have and which she has no hope of gaining.

Unfortunately, Beatrix was born a lowly henchman. But hey, maybe that’s her edge. Maybe the world needs a blue-collar bad girl—a villain for the people.

Maybe, she’s just what evil needs.

Positive Elements

There are a couple of niceish lessons about friendship and loyalty here—though it’s also fair to say that Beatrix and her friends’ definition of those two terms is often twisted and frown-eliciting.

A few characters risk their lives to save those they care about. One villain is a self-proclaimed pacifist—something that frequently conflicts with his bad-guy ways.

A man is rescued from a human trafficking plot—though it should be noted his rescuers lie to him about the incident.

Spiritual Elements

Some folks are born with superpowers, such as the hero Captain Justice. Of course, he wasn’t actually born. He was spawned from a plant pod—the normal form of procreation among his alien species. Others are able to gain superpowers via supplements or injectable serums, which we can assume are made through science.

After a supervillain dies, someone at his funeral reads in Latin from a book with a pentagram on the cover, suggesting the villain may have been an occultist of some sort. Beatrix says she can “kinda” speak to the dead because she took necromancy in high school. Someone says the villain tryouts will “test your soul—if you have one.”

Cain, Beatrix’s friend and fellow henchman, often folds his hands before his chest, taking a meditative breath when people frustrate him (since he’s a pacifist).

Alex, whom Beatrix and her friends rescue from a fellow villain, says his youth pastor called him “weird.” Someone says, “God bless America.” A man wears a shirt that says, “Hell was boring.”

Sexual Content

Harold, another of Beatrix’s friends, often flirts with women. He says “hubba, hubba” when Beatrix shows him her new villain I.D. There’s a joke about male anatomy. We hear that a couple is going through a divorce. Cain informs Beatrix that she dropped an undergarment, but we don’t see the clothing. A man makes out with a loaf of bread during some mind control experiments. A woman says she wants to “grind” on personal trainers. A woman wears a midriff-bearing top.

Violent Content

There’s actually quite a bit of violence in this film, but not in the way you might typically think. The only blood we see is a drop of it on a bandage that a woman wraps around her hand after getting stabbed there with a pencil. And people die—even explode—except we never see a single bit of gore.

Essentially, most of the film’s hard knocks are played for humor. Thus, the violence itself can feel a bit silly and nonsensical.

That said, the violence here is nevertheless consequential at times. Bullets kill, but usually offscreen. And they sometimes act more like electrical shocks to superpowered people. A finger cannon (a result of one of those superpower supplements I mentioned) completely eviscerates targets in a flash of light, but not blood. Elsewhere, a woman is forced into a chair full of dynamite, but the chair rolls offscreen before exploding (albeit with the woman still in it).

When a deadly spider lands on a villain’s arm, he tries to smack the arachnid before it can bite him. Unfortunately, he had just charged up his hand to kill a hero and in smacking his arm, he activates his power, killing himself instead. And one superhero is reduced to a green goo that a man partially ingests after mistaking it for pudding.

Cain, as I mentioned, is a pacifist. When possible, he urges folks to talk through their problems instead of punching through them. But when push comes to shove—as in, he literally gets shoved around a lot—even he resorts to fisticuffs. When he’s forced to kill a superhero, he tries to revive the man with CPR, to no effect.

A woman throws a handful of pencils like darts, impaling (but not seriously injuring) a man. Someone is stabbed with a pair of scissors, but he’s ultimately OK. Superheroes and villains use their powers to throw each other around. During fight sequences, folks use nearby objects as weapons as often as they use actual weapons or their fists. A man is repeatedly kicked in the groin (though it doesn’t affect him, due to some superpower supplements he’s been taking), and another guy has bowling balls dropped on the same area.

Beatrix and her friends often get into scuffles with each other over petty disagreements. They take on several dangerous jobs, such as poison testers and target holders (where they literally hold up targets on a gun range), to earn some extra cash. When Beatrix says she’s bulletproof, someone shoots her to prove it. Luckily, Beatrix is only bruised since she was wearing a “Bulletproof Blouse” at the time.

We see Beatrix and her friends nursing some wounds after a fight gone wrong. Folks destroy some objects in anger. A few people are pepper-sprayed. One guy is tasered. Many threats are issued. One man bites several people throughout the film.

A man is forced to kill himself via mind control (he’s ordered to “force quit”). A woman says her uncle tripped on an axe and died. She also admits that she peaked at his dead body at his funeral even though it was a closed casket. We hear that a man created a “particle eviscerator.” His reason for doing so? Even though it isn’t any more humane than his main superpower (melting faces), it covered the screams of his victims better.

There’s a joke about accidental deaths that occur due to improperly stored guns.

Crude or Profane Language

A couple of uses of “dang” and one possible use of “d–n.” Someone says, “Son of a—” before he’s cut off. And another man says he and his friends are “little b’s,” though he means “bad guys.”

Drug and Alcohol Content

The superpower serums I mentioned above are illegal. We hear a bit about how these drugs are traded on the black market. After one villain injects himself with a serum that gives him “lightning hands,” his friends ask if there are side effects, wondering if the drug will affect his urine or allow him to become pregnant.

Some people drink beer. We hear a joke about the opioid crisis. Two characters debate the proper dosage of an over-the-counter pain medication.

Other Negative Elements

It seems that Beatrix and her friends don’t know how to do anything but be bad. They lie, cheat, betray, steal and otherwise celebrate any act that makes the world a more dangerous place. Harold in particular believes it’s his duty to serve his “evil overlords” no matter the cost, often causing his friends grief.

Beatrix does learn a bit about how it’s important not to lie to your friends—even if you are bad guys. But even as one of their own is dragged off by police for an act he didn’t commit, they resolve to wait a month before breaking him out of prison.

The film’s main superhero seems only to be such because of marketing. He’s just as bloodthirsty as any villain, he lies, and he litters. Villains, of course, lie, cheat, betray, steal and more, too.

A man says that mind control isn’t necessary with the right marketing strategy. There are some jokes about former President Nixon (who is a hero in this alternate world), Stockholm Syndrome and starvation. Several villains say, “Hail Sigma,” in reference to the supervillain, Sigma. We hear a few sexist jokes and statements.

A villain with seagull superpowers is strangled by a man using the plastic rings used to hold soda cans together, poking fun at how the things often harm ocean life.

We see two men urinating from behind. (One of them says he isn’t going to wash his hands because he’s “bad.”) A woman pretends to be having bowel trouble to avoid getting caught by some villains. A man vomits. Someone gets spat on. We hear about flatulence.


Beatrix spends much of this film lying and cheating—which is cool for a villain, but not for a friend.

She winds up hurting her friends, Cain, Harold and Alex. And the group splits up for a while as a result. When all the cards are down, Beatrix realizes that as much as she wants to be the bast (a combo of “bad” and “best”) villain in the world, she also wants her friends by her side, and she makes amends with them. You know, as long as they can reserve the right to stab her in the back at any time. After all, they’re still villains.

Villains Inc. is rated PG-13 for violence and brief drug material. As I said, the violence we see here may not be as bloody and gore-filled as say, The Boys, another take on the superhero/supervillain complex. That said, Villains Inc. isn’t as squeaky clean as The Incredibles, either.

The drugs mentioned are, of course, the ones that grant normal people superpowers. We hear a few winking sexual innuendos and a couple of near misses on language.

Overall, I was pretty shocked at how relatively content-free this film was—apart from a lot of ridiculous slapstick violence. I certainly wouldn’t recommend it for younger audiences—like I said, it’s not The Incredibles or even The Bad Guys, which had some great messages about how we don’t have to be bad.

But if you’re looking for a relatively innocuous film to share with your friends or your spouse, at least you won’t be cringing through crass language, bloodbaths or overt sexual content in Villains Inc.

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Emily Tsiao

Emily studied film and writing when she was in college. And when she isn’t being way too competitive while playing board games, she enjoys food, sleep, and geeking out with her husband indulging in their “nerdoms,” which is the collective fan cultures of everything they love, such as Star Wars, Star Trek, Stargate and Lord of the Rings.