The Bob’s Burgers Movie, 2022.
Written and Directed by Loren Bouchard and Bernard Derriman.
Featuring the voice talents of H. Jon Benjamin, Dan Mintz, John Roberts, Eugene Mirman, Kristen Schaal, Larry Murphy, Kevin Kline, Zach Galifianakis, David Wain, Sam Seder, Gary Cole, Stephanie Beatriz, Craig Anton, Ron Lynch, and Aziz Ansari.
The Belchers try to save the restaurant from closing as a sinkhole forms in front of it, while the kids try to solve a mystery that could save their family’s restaurant.
Unwieldy titled The Bob’s Burgers Movie, writers and directors Loren Bouchard and Bernard Derriman have done a commendable job bringing the idiosyncratic Belcher family and their irreverent humor to the big screen while succinctly getting across the basics of each character for those coming in blind. The animation has also been upgraded but still within its traditionally pleasant 2D style.
That’s about where the positives end, as this is a primarily uninvolving and average feature roughly four or five times the length of a standard episode (not accounting for commercials). Every second of that is felt, especially when the showrunners can’t decide if they want their adaptation to be a musical (there are three highly forgettable songs here), a story about battling bankruptcy, or a murder mystery. The results are a smashing of all three together that is so routine, by the 50-minute mark, the movie enters climax mode and kind of stays there, dragging itself out for another 35 minutes.
Anyway, bad luck causes a sinkhole directly in front of the Belchers’ two-story apartment home that doubles as the titular restaurant, Bob’s Burgers. Such a situation couldn’t have occurred at a worse time, considering Bob and Linda (voiced by H. Jon Benjamin and John Roberts, respectively) still owe debts to their eccentric landlord, voiced by Kevin Kline. The parents fail to hide the truth of their failing business from their youngest daughter Louise (Kristen Schaal), who takes it upon herself to round up her brother and sister to do something about it. She’s also driven to show courage following some bullying, namely for still wearing her signature bunny-ears hat that has helped calm her nerves ever since the first day of school.
Part of conjuring up some bravery involves climbing down into that sinkhole, where she discovers a dead carny body that the police (including fan favorite Sergeant Bosco, voiced by Garry Cole) is convinced is the landlord’s doing. Louise has reasons to suspect otherwise, as she calls a sibling meeting with her dimwitted but musically inclined (hey, his instrumental contraptions are nonetheless imaginative) brother Gene (voiced by Eugene Mirman) and boy-obsessed 13-year-old sister Tina (voiced by Dan Mintz), who occasionally has the oddball romantic fantasy of asking out her crush (regular bits on the show).
Part of the problem with The Bob’s Burgers Movie is that some of these jokes feel dumbed down as if they are for newcomers to the show. That’s also a noble approach, but Bob’s Burgers is hardly something that necessitates that, mainly when the opening 10 minutes does a terrific job summing up the traits of each family member. It also doesn’t help that the mystery is hugely generic with even less interesting motives. There are still some laugh-out-loud lines of dialogue (pretty much anything with Sergeant Bosco is comedy gold), but most of the story is centered on the kids, their existing issues carried over from the show and waiting for the obvious to be revealed. It’s also trying to focus and progress all three of those children in one movie, leading to something unfocused that doesn’t accomplish much of anything that feels earned.
Meanwhile, the funniest bits are the rare moments that see Bob and Linda trying to find ways to sell burgers through alternative methods since a sinkhole blocks their entrance. The solution involves taming up with another fan-favorite character, Teddy (voiced by Larry Murphy), invading the adjacent seaside amusement park with a grill on wheels, setting up shop, and blending into the environment while doing ridiculous things for advertisement. And once the family is reunited for the final stretch, the proceedings are still a mixed bag because by then, you’re just waiting for the triumph, the characters acknowledging lessons learned, and the resolution. There are also a few character moments that feel like they are supposed to be significant for diehard show fans but probably lack an emotional resonance even for them.
I’ve never been high on Bob’s Burgers compared to my adoration for South Park, The Simpsons, and Beavis and Butthead. However, I feel confident saying that even if I were super into the show and humor, I would still find The Bob’s Burgers Movie disappointing and nowhere near something as classic as South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut. Scattered laughs and lovable characters can’t entirely save a confused narrative structure and bloated runtime.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com