Released: 26th May
Seen: 31st May
In early 2011, the first episode of Bob’s Burgers hit the airwaves and was an instant hit for maybe the first week and then the ratings quickly went down. Reviews for the early season were mixed and the show was considered to be on the bubble in terms of renewal but it eventually got a second season. Around the second season, the show began to pick up its stride, slowly turning into a juggernaut and currently has been running for 12 seasons with a 13th one already ordered… and this reviewer has only seen up to episode 2 of the second season. This means that going into The Bob’s Burgers Movie there’s a chance to answer the question “Can The Bob’s Burgers Movie work for someone who isn’t caught up on the show’s history?” and the answer is a resounding glorious yes.
The Bob’s Burgers Movie begins just before spring break with Bob Belcher (H. Jon Benjamin) and his wife Linda (John Roberts) going to the bank to try and get an extension on a loan they took out to pay for their cooking equipment. When told they have 7 days to make the payment, Bob & Linda prepare to work hard as they can to sell enough burgers to make the payment… and at that exact moment a giant sinkhole opens up right out the front of the restaurant, making it physically impossible for people to enter the restaurant and therefore making it impossible to sell anything.
Meanwhile, Bob and Linda’s kids are having their own problems, the main one being Louise (Kristen Schaal) who is tired of being thought of as a baby so, with the help of her siblings Tina (Dan Mintz) and Gene (Eugene Mirman), she decides to film herself lowering into the sinkhole in order to appear cool. This plan would work except, oops, Louise ends up finding a dead body in the sinkhole that turns out to be a murdered carnie and the prime suspect is the Belcher’s landlord Calvin Fischoeder (Kevin Kline). So while Bob and Linda are trying to figure out how to keep selling burgers, the kids decide to go and solve a murder… which is a very kid-friendly activity in general.
From the very first moment, The Bob’s Burgers Movie invites the audience in with a charming little musical number and a sense that you really won’t need much knowledge of the show to follow along and it really sticks to that. It’s not the kind of story that’s going to rely on you knowing how the last season ended, nor is it one that’s going to make much impact on the next one. It’s a standalone story in this fun little world which means this would be a really good entry point into the series if you’ve been curious but never taken the dive, this feels like the concept in its highest form with the jokes firing on all cylinders and some gorgeous looking animation.
While the stories feel like they could be plots for regular 22-minute episodes, they’re expanded on well enough for The Bob’s Burgers Movie that it never feels like we’re straining to make them work in a feature-length setting. It lets Bob’s worry about losing his business grow a lot more, we get to have a lot more moments with the kids figuring out new clues to who the murderer could be and there’s more time for Linda to really have some great little moments that largely involve putting her in a burger suit and just being hilariously charming. It never feels like it’s dragging, it’s expanding in ways that feel like it suits this show. It didn’t do something wild and out of the ordinary just for the movie, it just figured out what a feature length version of this show would be like and it really works.
It is a little odd that they decided to make The Bob’s Burgers Movie a musical though, especially with only 4 songs in total so you end up almost forgetting that this is technically intended as a musical between songs. The songs aren’t exactly memorable, but they’re fun enough that they work. They’re the kind of song that could’ve been removed and nothing much would’ve been lost, but also they could’ve added more and it would’ve been fine. It’s just a choice that feels almost like it was done to help get that runtime up and it works but the songs aren’t really gonna be memorable.
Still, The Bob’s Burgers Movie makes up for that musical weirdness by just rapid firing joke after joke, most of them being delightfully hilarious. There are bound to be callbacks somewhere in there that old fans would get but as a complete newb, it didn’t stop The Bob’s Burgers Movie from being hilarious. The jokes all worked even without prior knowledge of the series, it’s all well performed and wonderfully animated in a way that really makes great use out of the change in medium. It’s just wall to wall good stuff, often hilarious enough that it slams a big dumb smile on your face where it will stay for quite some time.
The Bob’s Burgers Movie is a genuinely great time, easily accessible and probably the best entry point into the franchise for newcomers who want to see this series at its full potential. I imagine that long term fans will get even more out of it than the newbs will, but those new viewers will have a good time with this one.