I was cautiously optimistic about The Bob’s Burgers Movie. After all, it’s a deeply funny sitcom with a tight 20-minute runtime. But funny gags and hijinks that work well for short intervals don’t always sustain a feature-length venture. They can easily—and quickly—run stale. Luckily, The Bob’s Burgers Movie mostly pulls it off. It’s a delightful, heartfelt film and a lovely big-screen showcase for the beloved series.
Set during the last week of school before summer break, the film finds the Belchers in familiar territory—the restaurant is in dire financial straits, Tina’s angst over her Jimmy Jr. crush continues—but on a bigger scale. The restaurant barely staying afloat is a crucial aspect to the series. But as the movie opens, things are worse than ever. And it doesn’t seem like Bob and Linda will be able to pull off one of their usual last-minute saves. A burst waterline compounds the issue when the ground right outside their door crumbles, leaving a giant, very deep hole.
The Belchers take drastically different approaches to saving the restaurant: the kids embark on a quest to solve a sinister local mystery that crops up when the hole appears. Meanwhile, their parents do what they can to keep the restaurant open and make some money—in one way or another.
The Bob’s Burgers Movie is a lot of fun, boasting catchy musical numbers—a Linda Belcher dream come true—and an interesting enough central premise to keep things moving along. Each of the Belchers gets their moment—to differing degrees of importance. But overall, it feels like Louise’s (voiced by Kristen Schaal) movie. The sharp-tongued, impulsive youngest sibling is at a crossroads in her adolescence. A classmate mocking her, calling her the dreaded elementary school b-word—baby—prompts a crisis. It pushes her, with her siblings in tow, to venture into the spooky hole and later lead the charge to solve the central mystery. She’s out to prove she’s not a baby, no matter the (increasingly-dangerous) costs.
Kevin Kline, always a treat as the Belchers’ über wealthy, aloof landlord Calvin Fischoeder, has a slightly more prominent role and it is excellent. Really, the whole voice cast—including H. Jon Benjamin, John Roberts, Dan Mintz, Eugene Mirman, Larry Murphy, Zach Galifianakis, and David Wain—are on their A-games. Still, the film tries to do a lot with its expanded runtime, squeezing in as many recurring characters and bits as possible. To that end, things do drag a little bit during the second act.
I’m also not convinced the film needed every minute of its hour and 42-minute run-time. But I am extremely grateful that Bernard Derriman who directed the film alongside creator Loren Bouchard—also the film’s co-writer with Nora Smith—kept things relatively tight.
The film is silly and hilarious. But my favorite parts were the film’s more sentimental turns. The Belchers are a tight-knit unit, and one of the sweet elements of the series is how much the family genuinely loves one another. Even if they don’t always fully understand one another, they have each other’s backs. The show has always balanced this dynamic really well. And the film demonstrates this bond beautifully, from Tina and Gene reluctantly but fully committing to Louise’s investigation to a lovely heart to heart the family has when things are particularly dire.
Whether or not you’ll like the movie comes down to your feelings about the show in general. If you don’t vibe with Bob’s Burgers in general, this is probably not the movie for you. After all, The Bob’s Burgers Movie features the show’s usual shenanigans dialed up to 11. But fans of the series will absolutely adore the film. It delivers many laughs, balanced out by a whole lot of heart, giving us yet another reason to root for the Belchers. It’s like a nice ray of sunshine or a good burger—a nice summer treat.
And if you’re curious, yes, there is a brief, very silly end credit scene.