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‘The Bob’s Burgers Movie’ Review: A Tasty Treat for Fans Both New and Old

The long-delayed big screen version of the popular Fox animated series has jokes enough to appeal to anyone, even if its plot is a little undercooked.

(L-R): Bob Belcher (voiced by H. Jon Benjamin), Linda Belcher (voiced by John Roberts), Louise Belcher (voiced by Kristen Schaal), Gene Belcher (voiced by Eugene Mirman), and Tina Belcher (voiced by Dan Mintz) in 20th Century Studios' THE BOB'S BURGERS MOVIE. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2022 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

“The Bob’s Burgers Movie”

Courtesy of 20th Century Studios

Have no fear: despite churning out more than 200 episodes over 12 seasons, Emmy-nominated animated series “Bob’s Burgers” translates to the big screen with relative ease. The colorful, kitschy look of Loren Bouchard’s Fox hit is delightful in feature format — the film is, quite notably, the first hand-drawn, traditionally animated film theatrically released by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures in over a decade; the last time that happened was “Winnie the Pooh” in 2011 — and its quippy, high-energy jokes should appeal to a wide audience.

That includes fans both old and new, as “The Bob’s Burger’s Movie” doesn’t require any previous knowledge of the titular burger joint or the wacky Belcher family who runs it to enjoy this first feature, though it certainly can’t hurt. Newbies will get hip to the personalities and pratfalls of the various stars with ease: Bob (voiced by H. Jon Benjamin; all of the show’s voice stars return to their roles for the film) is a worrier, Linda (John Roberts) is perpetually optimistic, eldest daughter Tina (Dan Mintz) is the voice of reason, son Gene (Eugene Mirman) is the silliest, and youngest daughter Louise (Kristen Schaal) is the precocious star of the family.

Similarly, writers Bouchard (who co-directed alongside Bernard Derriman) and Nora Smith (the series’ current showrunner) do a fine job of introducing the various supporting characters who round out the film’s nutty cast, including a gruff local detective, bickering food inspectors, Bob’s self-appointed best friend, a criminal-turned-carnie, even a sweet biker from the local gang.

It’s part and parcel of the film’s distinctly open-hearted nature: Welcome to our world, here’s who is in it and don’t worry — we’ll let you know everything to feel caught up (and, hey, if you want to watch the show after the film, we’ll make that easy and fun, too!). As Hollywood becomes ever-obsessed with building out sprawling, complex, and often brain-breaking universes that require significant amounts of watching (Marvel, we’re looking at you), there is something deeply refreshing about watching the first feature version of a series that’s just been renewed for Season 13 and still not feel like you’re missing a trick.

(L-R): Tina Belcher (voiced by Dan Mintz), Linda Belcher (voiced by John Roberts), Louise Belcher (voiced by Kristen Schaal), Bob Belcher (voiced by H. Jon Benjamin), Gene Belcher (voiced by Eugene Mirman), andCalvin Fischoeder (voiced by Kevin Kline) in 20th Century Studios' THE BOB'S BURGERS MOVIE. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2022 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

“The Bob’s Burgers Movie”

Courtesy of 20th Century Studios

There’s a mystery at the heart of “The Bob’s Burger’s Movie,” one we all (especially the Belchers) need to solve together. Opening six years before the bulk of the film’s action, we’re clued into a dastardly murder that took place at the local Wonder Wharf, located mere yards from the Belchers’ burger joint. When a giant sinkhole opens up in front of Bob’s Burgers, revealing a very dead skeleton, the Belchers’ fate becomes tied up with whoever the hell kicked the bucket nearly a decade ago.

Things are complicated for the Belchers even before the sinkhole appears. Bob and Linda are on the hook for a coming-due loan installment, while the kids have their own personal desperations: Tina has a burgeoning crush (even as a neophyte to the “Bob’s Burgers” world, I somehow still knew the young teen was obsessed with butts), Gene’s obsessed with becoming a rock star, and Louise’s wants to shed her baby-ish persona. Everyone’s got one week to figure out their various problems — that’s when the loan payment is due and when school lets out for the summer — and a giant sinkhole, a dead body, and the arrest of their own landlord (voiced by Kevin Kline) for the murder sure makes happy endings seems damn near impossible.

But don’t count out the Belchers.

(L-R): Louise Belcher (voiced by Kristen Schaal), Gene Belcher (voiced by Eugene Mirman), and Tina Belcher (voiced by Dan Mintz) in 20th Century Studios' THE BOB'S BURGERS MOVIE. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2022 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

“The Bob’s Burgers Movie”

Courtesy of 20th Century Studios

As Bob and Linda try to pick up some quick cash and the kids set about figuring out who really committed the murder, the film expands into what feels very much like a super-extended episode. Much of show’s charm remains intact, but there are some growing pains in the offing. (The joke, of course, would be that it all feels a bit undercooked.) That extends to subplots that fade in and out and a laggy middle act that keeps some of the Belchers separated for far too long. The film also has more ambitious elements that don’t get their full due, even though they delight whenever they crop back up.

The series often dips into musical elements (in 2017, Sub Pop released an album containing all 107 songs from the first six seasons, including performances by St. Vincent, The National, and Stephin Merritt of Magnetic Fields) and “The Bob’s Burger’s Movie” includes a show-stopping opener and a wonderfully wacky song-and-dance involving the local carnie population. While the song’s scores recur throughout the feature, Bouchard and Derriman demure from letting the entire thing go big! splashy! musical!, which feels like a missed opportunity to do something really special. (In short: Make an all-musical feature next, you cowards!)

The film is rife with the puns and gags for which the show is known, although some of the film’s best jokes are delivered entirely straight-faced, like when one supporting character randomly shares that he’s never eaten a meal outside before, or the wharf’s celebratory anniversary banner reads, “80 years of this!” It’s a charmer — let’s just put a bit more spice on the next one.

Grade: B

20th Century Studios will release “The Bob’s Burgers Movie” in theaters on Friday, May 27.

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