(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), and Calvin 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.
It’s been 11 years since America was introduced to the Belcher family – Linda, Tina, Gene, Louise, and Bob – the stars of the animated adult comedy series, “Bob’s Burgers.” The awkward but sincere family has given us plenty to laugh about, and they’ve certainly pushed through their fair share of questionable circumstances. “Bob’s Burgers” stands out because of its oddball characters and its particular flavor of absurd humor – and these are precisely the characteristics that define The Bob’s Burgers Movie. Yes, after 200+ episodes full of potty jokes, musical numbers, pubescent sexual angst (on Tina’s part), and “wholesome” family fun, the boisterous Belchers have finally made it to the big screen – and just in time for summer.
As per usual, Bob and Linda’s finances aren’t in the best place. The couple (voiced by H. Jon Benjamin and John Roberts, respectively) only has a few days to make a payment on their small business loan before the bank will repossess their restaurant equipment. Meanwhile, their kids are getting ready for summer vacation. Tina (voiced by Dan Mintz) has her heart set on summer love, Gene (voiced by Eugene Mirman) is fine-tuning the musical instrument he invented, and Louise (voiced by Kristen Schaal) is determined to prove to the girls at school that she’s not a baby. But when a water main break creates a giant hole in front of the family’s restaurant, preventing customers from getting to the door, it seems like the family’s summer plans are ruined. Of course, their negligent landlord, Mr. Fischoeder (voiced by Kevin Kline), shrugs off the accident and halfheartedly reassures the family that the city will fix it. When Louise accidentally finds a clue to a years-old local mystery in the hole, the family’s problems only get worse. Precocious as ever, Louise convinces her siblings to help her solve the mystery and save the family restaurant.
Just as Tina, Gene, and Louise have high hopes for their “sunny side up” summer, fans of the show certainly have high hopes for The Bob’s Burgers Movie. And while there are no glaring faults, the movie doesn’t particularly stand out against the dozens of episodes that came before. Every show from “Friends” to “Schitt’s Creek” has those few special episodes that just stick with you, whether because the jokes are funnier or because something particularly important happens to the characters. You’d expect a feature-length movie to be on par with those standout episodes, but there’s nothing especially noteworthy about The Bob’s Burgers Movie that you can’t get from a regular episode of the show. In fact, because fans are used to consuming Belcher stories in 20-minute, bite-sized episodes, the movie might seem to drag on. It’s got a little bit of everything that you’d get from a typical episode of the show, but it doesn’t have that “it” factor that fans might be expecting.
So, what does The Bob’s Burgers Movie have going for it? One of the most notable features is the music. Although the songs are not quite as memorable as Linda’s Thanksgiving solo or as iconic as the numbers in the “Work Hard or Die Trying, Girl” episode, the tunes are entertaining and funny. Of course, Bob and Linda’s absurd antics also give the movie a comedic leg up. Though the trailer spoils several of the best parts (like Linda in the bikini burger suit and Bob having an intimate conservation with the burger he’s making), there are a few situational jokes in the movie that remind us why this family’s brand of humor is so special. In fact, awkward humor has always been one of the defining aspects of “Bob’s Burgers.” The show faces the uncomfortable parts of life head-on. It never takes itself too seriously, and it’s never been ashamed to get weird. From fart jokes to Tina’s unusual romantic daydreams, “Bob’s Burgers” focuses on situations that make the audience just uncomfortable enough to laugh at the less attractive parts of life. The Bob’s Burgers Movie is no different. Its unusual humor is disarming, and it requires us to either take an embarrassment-free approach to the plot and themes or to not watch at all. After laughing at crude jokes, awkward silences, and absolutely absurd situations for 102 minutes, our defenses are down – and that’s what allows us to take the sentimental parts of the movie seriously.
That's the power of The Bob’s Burgers Movie. It can speak to adults about sentimental themes in a sincere and meaningful way, and it does so without resorting to cheap Hallmark Channel movie tropes. While “Bob’s Burgers” might be known for its humor, the biggest standout element of The Bob’s Burgers Movie is its emphasis on family, bravery, and optimism. These themes shine most brightly in Louise’s story. Yes, even though the movie is named after the Belcher family patriarch, Bob’s woes play second fiddle to Louise’s personal mission to prove her bravery. With Kristen Schaal’s unmistakable voice and Louise’s delightfully dramatic personality, it’s hard for the nine-year-old not to steal the show. As she leads her brother and sister in a quest to save the family restaurant and bring justice to the community, her determination and perseverance add meaning to the story on a deeper level. Her personal conflict is what gives the plot energy and moves the story along from one wacky joke to the next. Because The Bob’s Burgers movie doesn’t take itself too seriously, the wholesome themes in Louise’s story don’t come across as corny or forced. Instead, Louise’s journey is heartfelt and uplifting, providing the perfect little escape from today’s troubled world.
"Our embodied spectator, possibly perverse in her fantasies and diverse in her experience, possesses agency...finally, she must now be held accountable for it."