Certified critic on Rotten Tomatoes. Member of the Houston Film Critics Society. Also writes for Bounding Into Comics and GeeksHaveGame.
Sing. Fart. Repeat.
In The Bob’s Burgers Movie, Bob Belcher (H. Jon Benjamin) is trying to make a burger good enough to entice the man at the bank to give them an extension on their loan. Meanwhile, there’s only one week left before summer break. With only seven days to pay off their loan, the Belchers plan to capitalize on the Octa-Wharfiversary being held at the Wonder Wharf to try to make more cash. But the sinkhole forming in the sidewalk in front of the restaurant is slowly getting bigger and a murder mystery is revealed that only the Belcher kids can help solve.
Similar to The Simpsons Movie, The Bob’s Burgers Movie is mostly just a bigger, longer, and more expensive version of the series you are likely already a fan of. That’s really where the comparisons between the two films end though. The Bob’s Burgers Movie doesn’t milk the PG-13 rating by throwing in profanity they can’t say on broadcast television. Everything in the film, from fart jokes to innuendo, is exactly what you’d find when you tune in to watch the show on Sunday nights. In fact, the film could be broadcast as is with no edits on Fox, which is interesting in itself.
The film keeps the hand-drawn animation style of the series, but elaborates on it. Since the film is longer and the crew has a bigger budget to work with more intricate details can be established like more lighting, textures, and shadows, and a simple yet effective perspective shift on the street the restaurant resides on during the opening of the film. Visually, the film is incredibly colorful and eye pleasing.
The writing of the film is also done in a way that will appeal to longtime fans of the show as well as newcomers who have never watched it. You can go into The Bob’s Burgers Movie cold and still have a good time with it. Knowing the history of the characters adds an extra enjoyable layer of entertainment value, but it isn’t necessary. Everything you absolutely have to know is laid out before you in 102-minutes.
The music has always been something incredibly special on Bob’s Burgers. Every week it seems like the show has at least one catchy and comedic banger for anyone willing to tune in. The Bob’s Burgers Movie is the same way, but it’s cranked up just enough for you to notice. The harmony between Bob and Linda (John Roberts) while Bob is making the bribery burger in the opening sequence is extraordinary. They seem more in tune with each other and on key to an extent that makes you feel like they’ve upped their game. Bob’s Burgers songs are sometimes humorously out of key, but all of the songs in the film are just excellently written and executed. The Carnyopolis song with Louise has Kristen Schaal sounding better than she ever has.
The Bob’s Burgers Movie has a lot of gags that the series has covered several times over the course of its current 12 seasons. Tina (Dan Mintz) is still obsessed with Jimmy Junior (also voiced by H. Jon Benjamin). She fantasizes about making him her summer boyfriend in the film while also daydreaming about riding horseback on the beach with sexy zombies. Gene (Eugene Mirman) has created a new musical instrument involving using a rubber band to secure two spoons to a metal napkin holder. He dreams of headlining the Octa-Wharfiversary along with his band The Itty Bitty Ditty Committee. Louise (Kristen Schaal) is called a baby after she won’t perform a death drop off of a bar at the school playground. She sets out to prove her bravery throughout the course of the film even if it means that her trademark pink bunny ears may fall off in the process. Meanwhile, Linda dresses up as a sexy hamburger.
The Butt of Its Own Joke
A strength and weakness for The Bob’s Burgers Movie is that it feels just like one of the TV episodes. It’s longer, more polished, and the things that we love about the series like the music and relatable digestive issues as we age are done to a greater degree. But the film doesn’t offer any material you wouldn’t find in a 22-minute episode of Bob’s Burgers. It’s an intentional choice, but it also makes you wonder why a film was done to begin with since it had to be done simultaneously as the 11th season of the show was in production. South Park and Family Guy ventured into more vulgar territory with their films, but they also felt like special events in the process; an adventure we couldn’t experience by simply only watching the series. The Bob’s Burgers Movie, at its core, is just an episode of the show that’s four times longer.
Bob’s Burgers has a formula that doesn’t really require the need to be vulgar, but there isn’t much here outside of a lengthier murder mystery that couldn’t be explored within the realm of a single episode. It will likely be split up and aired as a multi-episode event like Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story or Imaginationland as it airs on Fox or simply drops on Disney+ in full in a few months. The biggest downside of the film is that it feels like it will be forgotten about overall when you look back on the series as a whole.
All criticism aside, The Bob’s Burgers Movie is a laugh out loud funny and beautifully animated film with undeniably fantastic music. It’s unfortunate and slightly soul crushing that the film feels almost like a filler episode of a television series. It’s absolutely fun in the moment and you’ll laugh your buns off, but whether the film holds any substantial value over time is something we’ll all have to ask ourselves by the time the film is released on Blu-ray and DVD.
© 2022 Chris Sawin