There’s always a risk making a feature-length movie of a series that has worked so well on TV. Some attempts are great (The Simpsons), some aren’t so great (Sex and the City 2) and some are clearly just…bad. If you’re a Bob’s Burgers fan, these thoughts have likely crossed your mind at least once since it was announced the movie was finally on its way.
First announced back in 2017, then delayed and delayed again thanks to the pandemic, the Bob’s Burgers Movie — an animated musical based on the long-running Fox series created by Loren Bouchard — is almost in theatres. It comes out Thursday, actually (May 26), and I wouldn’t do the Belcher family justice if I didn’t try and convince you to go see it.
While all care will be taken to not ruin the movie for you, this review will include a number of spoilers for the Bob’s Burgers Movie. So if you don’t want anything spoiled, head over to read about all of the upcoming movies headed our way this year, spoiler-free, instead.
The premise of the movie is a tale as old as time, a ruptured water main creates an enormous sinkhole right in front of Bob’s Burgers, blocking the entrance indefinitely and ruining the Belchers’ plans for a successful summer. Happens all the 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.
There’s murder, mystery, a dilapidated carnival, a useless cop, some singing and dancing and a whole lot of wholesome life lessons. The type we’ve come to appreciate Bob’s Burgers for.
Speaking with Gizmodo Australia last week, Bouchard said in making the movie, he didn’t want it to feel like a long episode of Bob’s Burgers, rather he intended for it to stand on its own. And it truly did.
The movie starts with a flash back to six years prior, one that was dreary and dark and set the scene for something bad to happen. It’s not a trope unlike what you see in a murder mystery: something bad happened a few years ago, the rest of the movie will be spent unpacking this. And while thriller/horror flicks do this unpacking with gore galore and some cringe to boot, Bob’s Burgers does this with wholesome family love, relatable struggles with money and some coming of age themes peppered throughout.
We’re introduced to the entire Belcher vibe in the first few minutes, allowing new Bob’s fans to have all the context needed. Linda and Bob are financially struggling, Tina is thirsty over a boy from school, their son Gene has, um, a misguided entrepreneurial spirit and Louise is introduced as vulnerable below her confident exterior (same, girl, same) and bunny ears (more on that in a sec). But the delivery of the debt pressure is lifted by song.
There’s been a handful of musical Bob’s episodes, there’s also been a number of dream sequences, secondary storylines and the Belcher family overcoming adversity. But the movie pulls in everything and gives you a right-left punch of said everything all at once. But the light-hearted nature of Bob’s Burgers delivers it in a way that isn’t exactly hard to keep up.
Unlike with other movie reviews, it’s hard to talk about what makes an animation based on a successful TV show just work. I can’t discuss the cinematography, I can’t explain the characters because you already know them, there’s no real acting to comment on and the plot is not exactly ground-breaking. But what I will say is that in addition to a few more minutes of a Bob’s episode, we also get a whole lot of growth from the characters.
When trapped in a car under the dirt used to fill the sinkhole (as filled in by the villain, obviously), Bob lets us in a little bit. He is always the cynical one who leans on his wife Linda who always looks on the bright side of life. But as the family face imminent death, he reveals he genuinely relies on Linda for her glass half full approach to every situation, that without her positivity, Bob is at a loss for what to do. Realising she is too sad and perhaps too scared to be positive in this awful situation, Bob steps up and takes the lead. The aww factor is real here. We love you, Bob.
Tina also goes through her own journey, and it of course has to do with her crush on Jimmy Junior. There’s actually one scene where she discusses with her subconscious if she’s afraid to ask Jimmy Jr out because the relationship might deviate from the perfect scenario she’s played out in her head.
Louise, meanwhile, addresses her bunny ears — something that feels only right to have explored in film. You also see a more vulnerable side to this confidence queen who gets called a baby by one of her peers, and it’s actually her story I remember more vividly than the movie’s plot. We’ve all been Louise, but it isn’t handled by Bouchard and his crew with stereotyping and generic lacklustre — the very real themes are given love, nurture and comedy, and that can’t be understated.
But back to the main story. What Bob’s Burgers does so well is encourage kids to have ideas and opinions and the movie allows this theme to continue. It’s the kids, after all, who determine who the killer is.
While I didn’t make any loud belly laughs, every 30 seconds I audibly let out a bunch of air through my nose and a number of ‘ha’ moments happened throughout. Bob’s Burgers is funny because it’s witty and it’s never the story itself that is funny. I want to call it a long episode of Bob’s Burgers even though Bouchard doesn’t want me to – and not because it is just like another episode, but because the DNA is there, stretched out into 100 minutes of animated brilliance. It’s like a TV ep, just better.
It’s a classic (albeit stressful) tale of the Belchers getting involved in something they shouldn’t, with the kids trying to help their parents only to have the parents save them. They’re a dysfunctional family with their own stories that you truly can relate to and unlike other animated families the Belchers get compared to, they’re all likeable characters and they all truly have a heart of gold.
Moral of this story: save your landlord from death and your finances will sort themselves out. And ask your crush out. Oh, and you’re brave in your own way.
The Bob’s Burgers Movie hits cinemas in Australia this week, May 26. Go see it if you’re a Bob’s fan, in fact, go see it even if you aren’t.