At some point in time of an animated TV sitcom’s life, fans wonder when their beloved show will make that leap from the small screen to the big screen. But unfortunately, it doesn’t necessarily happen to all of them. Then there’s the worry about justifying the film’s existence or if it’s a sign that the sitcom is jumping the shark. And when all is said and done, it may have taken too long to figure it out.
But for The Bob’s Burgers Movie, based on the Bob’s Burgers sitcom of the same name, it took 11 years. And it was worth the wait, at least for the dedicated fans who have been waiting to see tasty punny burgers from Bob Belcher (H. Jon Benjamin) and his happy-go-lucky wife Linda Belcher (John Roberts) make that leap.
Of course, making such a leap from TV to film, there’s this expectation that everything must be bigger, better, and more refined with its comedy and musical numbers. And for The Bob’s Burgers Movie, it is. So, it only makes sense that the film brings series creators Loren Bouchard and Bernard Derriman to direct the cinematic comedy. The two know the material enough to avoid making the movie feel more like a 90-minute season finale. Instead, the film retains much of the sitcom’s charms of Bob running his dream burger restaurant with his wife and three kids, the self-proclaimed musical genius Gene (Eugene Mirman), the confident but shy Tina (Dan Mintz), and the bright and mischievous Louise (Kristen Schaal). However, the show is anything but ordinary as it’s a sitcom that follows the eccentric family and their misadventures which are generally filled with oddball humor and quirky musical numbers. But at the heart of it all is how this family sticks it together, even if the odds are constantly against them or they manage to escape whatever troubles they encounter by the skin of their teeth.
But the film adds more digital enhancements, uses 3D backgrounds to give the world more depth, and has leeway to be even more peculiar than it could be on TV. That includes having an eccentric cast of characters whose personalities fit this oddball world where there are mansions built on top of trees, mysterious rides hidden beneath a wharf, and a community built to house carnival employees.
And because it’s a film adaptation, The Bob’s Burgers Movie has the room it needs to expand upon the comedy it’s so well known for. Bob is still the sensible burger cook who can’t catch a break. Whether he’s behind on loans or rent, the family patriarch finds himself struggling to keep his family afloat. Still, Bob is the typical family man who finds the time to balance out his work life with his wife and kids. Everything he does is for them. So when the film opens with Bob learning that he has to pay his loan on his rental equipment in seven days, it continues a running gag while setting up the stakes for those who may not be familiar with the show.
Things only get worse for the Belcher family when a giant sinkhole opens in front of their restaurant, cutting off access to any hopes that Bob will be able to make the payments on time. While Bob and Linda struggle to keep the business afloat, the kids try to solve a mystery that could save their family’s restaurant. As the dangers mount, these underdogs help each other find hope as they try to get back behind the counter.
Bouchard and Nora Smith‘s script doesn’t do anything new or outlandish to be worthy of its theatrical release. If it isn’t broken, why fix it. But rather than try to balance out the screentime for this highly dysfunctional family, The Bob’s Burgers Movie is more of a character-driven comedy that centers on Louise. Her penchant for looking into trouble and making others feel highly uncomfortable is juxtaposed with the fact that she is just a kid who wears pink bunny ears. However, when her rep is threatened, she dares venture into the sinkhole to restore it. And upon finding the body, she learns that she can do both. But it’s the latter that shows her true character to a newer audience. Because devout fans already know that she’s the kind of person who finds herself putting the needs of others before her self-interests.
While this may be a character-driven comedy, The Bob’s Burgers Movie gives ample screentime to its supporting players. As Bob and Linda try to make the income by using a DIY burger cart by their over-enthusiastic handyman friend Teddy inside the Wonder Wharf — and without a permit, Louise and her siblings solve the case of the mysterious body. Eventually, these schemes, oddball misadventures, and dangerous conspiracies converge on each other.
And because it’s The Bob’s Burgers Movie, the comedy has even more time to play around with its signature gags and goofy humor. There are more pun-filled burger offerings, and the musical numbers about summer — served with a sunny side up egg — underpaid and underappreciated Wonder Wharf employees, and murders are perfectly odd and quirky yet revers the very idea of musical theater with its jingles and unconventional styles. Although I have to say, as a casual fan, I would have loved to see a few more of them.
The Bob’s Burgers Movie is still that sweet, good-natured comedy filled with sarcasm and dry wit that we all know and love. It doesn’t have to be mean or raunchy like some of its other animated family sitcoms. Nor does it have to be topical, which helps the comedy stay fresh, even after the film ends its theatrical run. What you see is what you get. And what you get is a tasty burger that’s full of heart and has plenty of laughs.
Overall Grade: B