The Belchers are at it again. The Bob’s Burgers Movie sees our favorite burger-slinging cast of characters step out of the TV and on to the big screen in an adventure that will test their family and their business. It’s a charming, enjoyable ride that (as usual) sports some ace-level vocal performances, and it’s helped by a darker, almost noir-esque tone that makes it stand out as something we haven’t seen from the world before. At the same time, there are some issues that may keep it from pulling in the folks that aren’t already sold on the Bob’s Burgers schtick.
The film sees the Belchers confronted by a host of problems. For a number of reasons, they need money more than ever, a situation that’s compounded by a massive sinkhole opening up riiiiight in front of their restaurant. Louise Belcher (Kristen Schaal) descends into the hole in an effort to prove she’s ‘not a baby,’ only to discover a long-dead mystery. A murder was afoot! The Belchers have to get to the bottom of a mystery that gets more dangerous the deeper they go.
So many of the characters are so seasoned in their roles that it’s no doubt their vocal performances are unsurprisingly excellent here. H. Jon Benjamin’s Bob is well portrayed with a complex array of emotions here. Lynda Belcher (John Roberts) has as much charisma as ever and is a real treat. All three kids, including Tina (Dan Mintz), Gene (Eugene Mirman), and Louise land their roles and play off each other well. The rest of the cast lands their role too, in a film that builds off the series’ usual strengths only (of course) bigger and better.
It’s an interesting tone for a film, almost feeling like the Belcher kids were dropped into a noir outing rather than their usual shenanigans. The series often had a more complex tone than a simple family friendly animated series, so the shift works both for the Bob’s Burgers world and the characters’ roles in it. It builds to a satisfying conclusion, with great set pieces, strong action, and a lot of well written, funny situations and dialogue.
That said, the jump from series to feature wasn’t entirely successful. The series is known for its myriad songs (among other things), and this film is no different. In this setting, the songs are much too long (the first especially), ill-fit, and not quite funny enough to justify how long they are. It’s not laden with a whole concert’s worth, though, which is a mercy given how good the rest of the writing is.
There are also some major dangling plot threads, like the family’s unresolved tension with a group of local carnival employees. One source of tension is resolved (no spoilers here), and the other just… sort of drops off the Earth? That’s not the only thread left dangling, but it is a glaring one, and a lot of different challenges for the Belchers are swiftly swept away once the central crisis is resolved. Additionally, Louise has a bit of a crisis over her perpetual bunny ears-wearing propensities, but though the crisis is somewhat new we have seen her struggle with going without the ears before (in Season 3 they get stolen by a bully). As a consequence, that minor plot of ‘will Louise go without her ears’ was a little deflated for someone who has watched the show.
Oddly, the other largest issue with The Bob’s Burgers Movie is a technical one. There’s a pivotal song by one of the Fischoeder’s that delivers some key plot points, and between the character’s accent translated into singing and the sound mix itself you can only really understand a small portion of it (and that’s in a high-end theater, not an at-home screening experience). Given it’s an important song in an important scene, it’s very unusual for a sound mix in a film (for a series so used to successful musical interludes) to have sound mix issues of this kind, but here we are.
At its core The Bob’s Burgers Movie is a bigger, better version of one of the series’ regular episodes, but with higher stakes and charming moments that really work. The writing is funny, the family has a solid dynamic that translates well on a bigger screen, and it’s an enjoyable romp that’s sufficiently elevated to feel like it’s offering something new overall. At the same time, there are elements of missed potential that keep it from being a fully successful outing that can convert the uncommitted. Altogether The Bob’s Burgers Movie is still an engaging romp and a fun time in the theater.
The Bob’s Burgers Movie premieres in theaters 5-27-2022.