The Bob’s Burgers Movie REVIEW – Comfort Food

A super-sized portion of Belcher family hijinks that doesn’t shake up the recipe, but still satisfies.

The Bob's Burgers Movie
The Bob's Burgers Movie

After numerous delays due to a certain global pandemic, the lovable Belcher family of Bob’s Burgers are finally getting their overdue big screen moment, and the good news is they mostly make the jump with their comic rhythm and personalities intact.

The premise of The Bob’s Burgers Movie feels like a natural escalation of the usual misadventures of downbeat burger-slinger Bob Belcher (H. Jon Benjamin), his perpetual optimist wife Linda (John Roberts) and their family. An overdue loan puts the family business in jeopardy, and the problems are compounded by the sudden eruption of a sinkhole right in front of the family restaurant, scuppering Bob’s hope for a windfall of early Summer business.

As Summer approaches, oldest child Tina (Dan Mintz) is having second thoughts about her romantic crush, wondering if she really likes him or if she only likes the experience of having a crush. Middle child Gene (Eugene Mirman) is likewise having a crisis over whether he’s actually any good at music, regardless of how passionate he is. Louise (Kristen Schaal) has the inner turmoil that gets the most screentime, as she struggles with being called a baby by a spiteful classmate and tries to prove her maturity and bravery to herself.

Complications cascade as the kids and the parents embark on separate master plans to handle the sinkhole, ultimately leading the family to a deep, years-long conspiracy. Along for the ride are a number of side characters from the show’s deep bench, including slimy moneybags landlord Mr. Fischoeder (Kevin Klein), Mickey (John Q. Kubin) the former robber-turned-carnie, and the most realistic cop on TV, the cowardly and bungling Sgt. Bosco (Gary Cole). The movie actually shows tremendous restraint in not turning into a who’s who of all the fan favorites, keeping the scope squarely on the characters who have the most reason to be there. This does mean that some faves don’t make the cut or get much screen time, but the reasoning behind these narrative decisions always makes sense.

The plot does bear resemblance to a few previous episodes, and consequently it feels at times like The Bob’s Burgers Movie’s trying to rehash some of its greatest hits. However, when you’re working with a show that has such a high narrative batting average, similarity is not necessarily a bad thing. There’s enough new rhythm in here to keep the movie from feeling like a full retread.

The visuals here are entirely fresh and feature film animation money is on full display here, as the neighborhoods, school halls, and lush greenery all teem with detail and vibrant energy. Colors are bold and vivid, and characters’ movements are extremely fluid. Sometimes there’s an almost uncanny valley of the realistic motions being done by characters whose mouths make them look a little like 2D muppets, which doesn’t ruin the experience but does illustrate a curious way that animation can trick your brain – the shapes on-screen move like a human in a way that their cartoonified faces can’t match.

There are also a greater number of 3D assets, as opposed to the show’s usually predominantly 2D/drawn assets. It never overwhelms characters, but again, it’s intriguing to see when and where the increased budget manifests, such as the Belcher kids’ bikes suddenly being more weighty than the kids on them.

As bright and entrancing as these visuals are, the characters and the script keep pace with them at every step. The cast have had years to coalesce as an on-screen family unit, and that decade-plus of chemistry shines through here. Bob and Louise have the most prominent arcs, and Benjamin and Schaal make the absolute most of their time in the spotlight.

That’s not to say Bob’s Burgers has lost its charm – this movie is as gut-bustingly funny as the show has ever been. Jokes come constantly and from all angles, with heaps of puns, visual gags, and sibling one-upmanship. More sincere emotional moments still get room to breathe and make an impression, and the sincerity and the silliness work together in perfect balance.

There are also a few delightful musical numbers sprinkled throughout, a given for a series that has a history of stellar original songs. It’s slightly disappointing that these are mostly at the top of the film. A full-scale musical likely wouldn’t have been feasible, but the songs’ absence in the 2nd and 3rd acts is noticeable.

The Bob’s Burgers Movie may not push the envelope or push its characters into a brand new world, but it does deliver an exciting adventure that rockets through its runtime with no drag. It’s a story about how bad things will happen, and the importance of resilience in the face of inevitable setbacks. It’s sincere without being saccharine, heartfelt without being hokey, and a sure crowd-pleaser for fans and Bob’s Burgers newbies alike.

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The Bob's Burgers Movie
The Bob’s Burgers Movie leans into the series’ strengths and, while not pushing many new boundaries, still serves up a stylish, hilarious, and delightful adventure.