Movies · Reviews

‘The Bob’s Burgers Movie’ is a Sweet and Sassy Meal for Your Heart and Funnybone

Come for the small business in dire financial difficulty, but stay for the murder!
The Bobs Burgers Movie
20th Century Studios
By  · Published on May 23rd, 2022

The Bob’s Burgers Movie certainly isn’t the first big-screen feature derived from an animated television show, and it definitely won’t be the last. It is the latest, though, and happily it’s also one of the very, very good ones. While its most high-profile predecessors (The Simpsons Movie, 2007; South Park: Bigger, Longer, & Uncut, 1999) went big with their theatrical endeavors, The Bob’s Burgers Movie takes a different approach by delivering what amounts to a hundred-minute episode of the series — and if you think that’s a knock, well, you’re clearly not a fan of this wonderfully warm and highly hilarious show.

First, a quick summary of the series itself which premiered in 2011 and was just recently renewed for a thirteenth season. Bob’s Burgers follows the everyday adventures of the Belcher family — Bob (voiced by H. Jon Benjamin) owns a burger restaurant that he runs with his wife Linda (John Roberts), and they’re helped out after school by their three kids, Tina (Dan Mintz), Gene (Eugene Mirman), and Louise (Kristen Schaal). We follow their antics at school, at the restaurant, at home (an apartment over the restaurant), and around their relatively small oceanside town/city. The Belchers are a lower/middle working class family, and their financial constraints often play a part in story lines… so it’s no surprise to see them in trouble once again in The Bob’s Burgers Movie.

It’s been a lean month, and Bob is struggling to find a way to afford both rent and a loan payment. Their landlord Calvin Fischoeder (Kevin Kline) won’t cut them any slack, and the bank won’t give them an extension, so their only hope is to sell *a lot* of burgers — an already difficult goal made brutally unattainable when a sinkhole opens up right in front of their restaurant. Things are looking bleak for the Belchers, but a little late-night spelunking by the kids reveals both an adventure and a skeleton-shaped glimmer of hope.

As mentioned above, The Bob’s Burgers Movie, co-directed by series creator Loren Bouchard and Bernard Derriman, feels in many ways like an extended episode of the show. The story isn’t far removed from the kinds of shenanigans the Belchers often find themselves in, and there’s not a single new character introduced for the show’s feature debut. It’s possible that “smallness” will work against the end product for some viewers, but it’s an artificial limitation any way you look at it as the movie delivers more than enough laughs and emotional beats to warrant a trip to the movie theater.

As is often the case, the kids and adults find themselves on separate paths before their stories converge, but the key themes at play affect them all. The script (by Bouchard and regular writer Jim Dauterive) sets each member of the Belcher family on a trajectory of self-doubt and impending depression. Bob and Linda worry they won’t be able to keep the lights on, Tina is trying to work up the nerve to ask Jimmy Jr. (Benjamin) to be her summer boyfriend, Gene worries the audience won’t appreciate his band’s (The Itty Bitty Ditty Committee, a call-back to the fifth season) upcoming stage debut, and Louise finds herself mocked for being a “baby” in bunny ears.

As occasionally happens on the show, The Bob’s Burgers Movie dabbles in musical numbers too. There aren’t nearly enough of them — the only real negative, honestly — but the collective song that sees each of the Belchers giving voice to their individual fears is a gut punch. Yes, they’re brightly animated cartoon characters who never age, and yes, their issues are typically wrapped up in twenty-minute bursts, but after more than a decade by their side the Belchers’ struggles remain every bit as relatable as our own.

That’s not to suggest this is in any way a drama, of course, but the financial stakes in The Bob’s Burgers Movie feel real even if the subsequent antics and outcome are obviously more aligned with what you expect from a comedy. The story kicks into high gear when the skeleton is determined to have been murdered, and soon Louise and her older, not-quite wiser siblings are on the case. From carnies to millionaires, the suspect list shifts and wiggles more than Gene after second-lunch gifting viewers with the presence of the Fischoeders — Calvin, Felix (Zach Galifianakis), and cousin Courtney (David Wain) — and other regulars including Teddy (Larry Murphy), Sgt. Bosco (Gary Cole), Mr. Frond (David Herman), and more. The gang’s almost all here including a silent Jimmy Pesto Sr. (thanks to the firing of series regular Jay Johnston for taking part in the storming of the capitol last January).

It’s unclear if The Bob’s Burgers Movie can win over viewers who’ve yet to fall under the series’ spell, but if you love one you will most likely love the other. The film is very funny with each member of the Belcher family finding laughs in their individual quirks, traits, and line deliveries. It’s also a colorful, lively, and smartly animated feature revealing life in every frame, both in the images and in the characters themselves. The Belchers are a bunch of weirdos, but if you don’t self-identify with at least one of them then you’re definitely doing something wrong with your life.

Related Topics:

Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird seeing as he's so damn young. He's our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists 'Broadcast News' as his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hi if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.