It’s weird to call an adaptation of a long running, moderately popular show a sleeper but that’s where we are. The Bob’s Burgers Movie is a throwback to the old school simple comedy theaters used to run on hot summer days. It’s modest with low stakes and a very chill energy level. Yet is it weird I enjoyed this more than almost every other franchise movie we got this year. Marvel hasn’t touched the heights of a family trying to float a single payment.
In the film, Bob Belcher (H. Jon Benjamin) is given a single week to make his loan payment after the bank refuses an extension. This proves a challenge when a sinkhole makes accessing his business impossible. It seems he might get help from insane landlord Calvin Fischoeder (Kevin Kline) but when a skeleton found in the sinkhole leads to his arrest, it’s up to Belcher kids Gene (Eugene Mirman), Tina (Dan Mintz), and Tina (Kristen Schaal) to clear his name so he can help them out.
I can’t stress enough how small this film is. This review is hitting while the movie has hit streaming but I actually did see it theatrically and it was weird watching such a low level affair in terms of story there. All that’s at stake is getting by for another month. That’s it. The characters all have their own plots but they’re equally low level. Just hoping for a boyfriend, a performance, and respect.
Yet it works. Unlike the last tv show to movie I wrote about; The Bob’s Burgers Movie understands exactly why the show is so beloved. It’s focused tightly on only the characters we already know and love. The whole movie takes place in maybe a 10 mile radius. There are so new few characters that even seemingly new characters like Fischoeder’s cousin and lawyer showed up in previous episodes. The cameoing names like Paul Rudd and Jordan Peele are also in reprises. This is about the Belchers.
And that’s the joy. I went to this film to sit in the theater with people I loved and I did. They’re all exactly as we love them. Linda (John Roberts) is the absurd loving mom who balances Bob’s perpetual angst. Gene marches to his own beat literally. Tina is awkward and shy. Louise’s bold attitude masks her fears. These are the characters and the film focuses on that.
The plot is as many have noted basically an episode. Yeah, it is. Movies based on shows that aren’t are hard to watch. This is a bit more fleshed out but it’s definitely an episode. Fundamentally it draws on the tradition of classic murder mysteries. Sure, you can identify the villain so fast they’re basically identified on the spot by the film. Oh well. It’s a good plot.
The film does have the plus of higher budgeted animation. The film looks remarkably lush in places. If you love good multiplane 2D animation, there are some stunning shots. The world is remarkably detailed too. You’ll feel like you can walk around this world. It’s unexpectedly rich on that front.
It’s weird to talk about the voice work since it’s all from the show. But it’s still great. Benjamin remains such a great stressed lead and Roberts is wonderfully silly as Linda. The kids are great with Schaal the standout. Kline feels like he should be the outsider as an Oscar winner but since he’s such a key part of the show he both steals the film and feels perfectly a part of it. Seriously this show nailed the voice casting and we just get to enjoy it.
I have a few qualms. The film’s big issue is it is a bit airy. 102 minutes might be a shade longer than it needed be. The film also never commits to the musical concept. There are a few songs but really no more than the norm. It feels like this was an abandoned concept. And fundamentally this is just an episode of the show. If you left the house for the film, it’s hard to say it was wildly exciting.
But I relate to the Belcher clan. I too frequently struggle at the end of the month. I’m a family man. I’m odd. I feel at home in this world. The great joy of this movie is while the blockbusters of the summer put freedom at risk, this one taps real emotions. It’s just a lovely time. Now streaming on Hulu and HBO Max.
Watch the trailer right here.
All images via 20th Century Studios.
Directed by Loren Bouchard and Bernard Derriman
Screenplay by Loren Bouchard and Nora Smith, based on the TV show Bob’s Burgers created by Bouchard
Produced by Janelle Momary-Neely, Loren Bouchard, Nora Smith
Starring H. Jon Benjamin, Dan Mintz, Eugene Mirman, Larry Murphy, John Roberts, Kristen Schaal, Zach Galifianakis, Kevin Kline
Release Date: May 27, 2022
Running Time: 102 minutes