After a two-year wait full of COVID-related delays, The Bob’s Burgers Movie has finally hit the big screen. Being completely transparent here, this writer will admit that they’ve never seen a single episode of Bob’s Burgers before going into the movie, and our knowledge of the Belchers was at zero. Those who watched the series from its beginning may love it, as there might’ve been some insides (and character relationships) introduced in the series that newbies do not pick up. But even the ones who have not seen the show, or heard about its characters, will find enjoyment in it, mainly through a clever whodunit plot and multiple comedic situations that will have you in stitches.
It doesn’t take long for us to understand the film’s multiple characters it introduces through fun (and catchy) musical songs. Bob (H. Jon Benjamin) owns the film’s titular restaurant and is waiting on an extension approval for his business loan by the bank. However, when the extension is refused, Bob has seven days to pay back the bank on their restaurant equipment, or Bob’s Burgers will be repossessed. And as if things couldn’t get any worse, a giant sinkhole appears right in front of the restaurant, with a skeleton of a disappeared body discovered by one of Bob’s children, Louise (Kristen Schaal). The body is confirmed to be the one of Cotton Candy Dan, who was allegedly murdered by Bob’s landlord Calvin Fischoeder (Kevin Kline). But Louise believes Calvin was framed by his brother Felix (Zach Galifianakis), who is attempting to flee the country.
And it’s off for an investigation, intercut with a subplot involving Bob, his wife Linda (John Roberts), and best friend Teddy (Larry Murphy) trying to turn the restaurant around by having a grill card serving burgers on the street. This subplot doesn’t work since it slows the movie’s main plot down, and the comedy is pretty hit or miss, but the whodunit parts act as an excellent framing device for some truly laugh-out-loud comedy. Many of these bits involve Gary Cole’s Sgt. Bosco, who is having loads of fun playing a police officer who has no idea what he’s genuinely doing and constantly blowing his cover. Some of the characters’ responses to situations in the movie are so random and completely unexpected that anyone could easily laugh at them, even if you had no idea who these characters were before watching Bob’s Burgers. But the movie does an excellent job at introducing (or reintroducing) us to the world of the series before plunging us into the main plot.
A newcomer will never felt lost or disoriented by the movie introducing many characters simultaneously. Instead, brief expository lines of dialogue make us understand who they are, the role they played in the series, and reference some episodes for good measure (should we want to watch or rewatch them afterward). And for the next 102 minutes, it’s straightforward for us to enjoy the time we’re spending with the series’ colorful characters making their on-screen debut.
It feels rare nowadays that adult animated movies, whether adapted from a TV show or not, are making their way onto the big screen. The Simpsons Movie felt like the last genuinely great adult animated movie, and that was fifteen years ago. So even if you had no idea who the Belchers were beforehand, watching The Bob’s Burgers Movie on the big screen feels like a once-in-a-lifetime event, especially for 2D animated movies aimed at adults.
These days, most animated offerings seem to be solely made for kids, based on pre-existing IP, and contain many recycled storylines. The Bob’s Burgers Movie is based on pre-existing IP. And since it isn’t necessarily aimed at kids (even though older kids may enjoy it), directors Loren Bouchard and Bernard Derriman can flex their creative muscles through darker humor, lively 2D animation, and jokes that are so out-of-place that they’re funny. And those jokes may not have worked if someone had inserted them in another animated film.
Yes, there are many elements in the movie that went over my head, but that’s due to being unfamiliar with the show at hand. But that won’t prevent you from having a good time at the movies, especially if you like a classic whodunit with some of the funniest comedy in an animated comedy you’ll see all year. It has the perfect marriage of random humor, traditional whodunit tropes, and colorful characters you’d love to see again. Thankfully, the show is available to stream on Hulu in the U.S. and on Disney+ in other territories, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to start watching it after viewing the movie. Now that’s a job well done (a burger-related pun had to be inserted in this review eventually).
The Bob’s Burgers Movie is now playing in theatres.