The Bob's Burgers Movie Review: The Belchers Sizzle on the Big Screen
The movie serves up a beefy plot for fans new and old while sticking to its roots. You can watch it now on HBO Max and Hulu.
Shelby BrownEditor II
Shelby Brown (she/her/hers) is an editor for CNET's services team. She covers tips and tricks for apps, operating systems and devices, as well as mobile gaming and Apple Arcade news. Shelby also oversees Tech Tips coverage. Before joining CNET, she covered app news for Download.com and served as a freelancer for Louisville.com.
She received the Renau Writing Scholarship in 2016 from the University of Louisville's communication department.
Bob Belcher and his family made the jump to the big screen and the movie solidifies why animated sitcom Bob's Burgers, recently renewed for its 13th season, is so loved by fans.
All 238 episodes of Bob's Burgers unflinchingly embrace Murphy's Law, the popular adage that "whatever can go wrong, will go wrong." The zany, fun plots in every show make it almost impossible to pick a favorite. The movie is now streaming on Hulu and HBO Max.
The Bob's Burgers Movie, billed as a "musical comedy-mystery-adventure," is a seamless transition from TV. On the surface, the big-screen debut feels like one of the show's special two-part musical episodes, but it doesn't feel like simply watching an episode on a larger screen. And with exposition that doesn't clutter dialogue, anyone can see The Bob's Burgers Movie and have a good time.
In short, the show revolves around the daily exploits of the Belcher family and their less-than-bustling burger joint. The film kicks off with the family romanticizing about summer plans when a ruptured water main opens a massive sinkhole in front of their restaurant. Bob (voiced by H. John Benjamin) and Linda (John Roberts) try to find ways to keep the business running while the bank threatens foreclosure. Meanwhile, their kids hatch their own plan to save the restaurant.
Writer and director Loren Bouchard sticks to what works for the show, like clever puns and catchy songs, but he doesn't rest on his laurels. Instead, Bouchard enhances and polishes everything fans love about the series.
While the film is approachable for newbies, it's truly a treat for those who've seen all 12 seasons. Animators waste no opportunities incorporating references and callbacks to past episodes. Anytime my eyes wandered to the background of a scene, there was an Easter egg of sorts, whether it was the crossing guard who moonlights as a witch (season 7, episode 3), Jordan Cagan/Ghost Boy's graffiti tag (season 6, episode 2) or hit recess game Ga-Ga Ball (season 8, episode 9).
The elevated script also gives us a closer look at the kids coming of age. With summer approaching, Gene, Louise and Tina are making big plans and taking personal inventory. Tina (Dan Mintz) is hoping to make Jimmy Jr. her "summer boyfriend" but struggles to take action. Gene (Eugene Mirman) invents a new instrument constructed from a napkin dispenser, rubber bands and a spoon. When reviews are less than favorable, his confidence in his passion for music wavers.
Arguably, the film has a special focus on the youngest Belcher, Louise (Kristen Schaal). Her seemingly impenetrable precocious confidence takes a hit when a classmate calls her a baby for wearing her iconic pink bunny ears. Fans have long speculated about the meaning behind Louise's "ears," but The Bob's Burgers Movie supplies the real answer, and it's surprisingly heartfelt. (Mild spoilers ahead.)
After her courage is called into question, Louise goes in search of a way to prove her bravery. She enlists Tina and Gene to film her descending into the sinkhole in front of the restaurant in the middle of the night. Louise falls into the pit and while trying to climb out accidentally unearths a human skeleton. The discovery sends shockwaves through the town.
Watching the show, it's easy to forget that Louise is just 9 years old, especially when she effortlessly contrives plans, talks her way out of trouble, and outsmarts adults. While wrapped in the familiar atmosphere of the series, The Bob's Burgers Movie presents viewers with something more: Depth, vulnerability and growth for the show's characters while they deal with relatable problems. And it does this without dampening the fun.
A murder mystery plot feels a bit darker and more mature for the Bob's Burgers universe, but the consistency in the characters and the overall energy of the movie make the twist less jarring. The script's risks pay off because it doesn't stray from the show's main theme: Family is most important. It sounds cheesy, but no matter what obstacle the Belchers face, they solve the problem as a family and reunite at the end of every episode (though not in the Brady Bunch way you might be imagining).
The film lags just a bit when the villain is unmasked, but it's not a deal-breaker. All loose ends are tied up before the credits roll, and the movie appears to perfectly set the stage for season 13. You probably don't have to see the film to be ready for the new season, but I can almost guarantee that the new scripts will include some references.
It's likely The Bob's Burgers Movie will stream eventually, but this flick is worth the trip to the theater whether you're a die-hard fan or not. Oh, and make sure to stick around for the post-credits scene.