While fellow Fox animated shows The Simpsons and Family Guy tend to get all the attention, the more charming and optimistic Bob’s Burgers has been quietly chugging along for over a decade, gradually building a loyal audience with its sweetly quirky humor. That being said, it has never drawn the sort of ratings as those other 2 shows by a long shot, even when DVR and streaming viewership is factored in, which makes it seem like an odd choice to make a movie out of. It is no surprise then that while it didn’t bomb at the box office, it wasn’t a smash hit either, which is a shame, as it’s got all the qualities that make the series so endearing and serves as a great entry point for the uninitiated.
Title character Bob (H. Jon Benjamin) and his wife Linda (John Roberts) are preparing to get an extension on their loan payment for all their restaurant equipment as their children approach the Summer break with their own challenges. Tina (Dan Mintz) is trying to build up the courage to ask out her crush Jimmy Pesto, Jr. (also H. Jon Benjamin), Gene (Eugene Mirman) wants to reform his band The Itty Bitty Ditty Committee, and Louise (Kristen Schaal) is dealing with issues of growing up. Bob and Linda’s plan to tempt the loan officer with a burger unsurprisingly doesn’t work, and so they are left with one week to come up with their past-due payments, a challenge that becomes even more difficult when a sinkhole opens up immediately in front of their restaurant, preventing customers from being able to access their door.
One night, to try and prove her bravery, Louise decides to have Tina record her climbing to the bottom of the hole but she instead finds herself trapped inside and then unearths a human skeleton in her efforts to escape, turning the hole into a crime scene and making it even less likely to be promptly repaired. Linda tries to convince their landlord, Mr. Fischoeder (Kevin Kline), to let them skip a rent payment to which he only gives a noncommittal response and then finds himself arrested as a suspect in the murder of the man buried in the hole. Louise overhears her parents worrying over what will happen now and decides that she and her siblings need to clear Mr. Fischoeder’s name in order to save the restaurant and their home, while regular customer Teddy (Larry Murphy) converts his barbecue grill into a food cart so that Bob can bring his food out to his customers.
The first 30 minutes or so seem more interested in trying to cram appearances by nearly every regular or semi-regular character of the series into the movie and as a result can feel a little bit draggy at times, but once the plot is set up and fully in motion things fly by. The central mystery is actually pretty compelling even if it isn’t really the point, and all of the core cast is given ample time to shine. The show’s clever banter and light touches of absurdity are fully present, along with its usual dash of smart silliness and a trio of Broadwayesque musical moments. At its core this has always been the story of a struggling, weird little family with deep affection for each other and that is carried through brilliantly here, with a scene towards the end that is one of the more emotionally resonant in any movie this year. It may feel like it’s just an elongated episode of the TV show, and it basically is, but given how well done they usually are that’s hardly a bad thing. ★★★★
RATED PG-13 FOR RUDE / SUGGESTIVE MATERIAL, AND LANGUAGE.
★★★★★ = Excellent | ★★★★ = Very Good | ★★★ = Good | ★★ = Fair | ★ = Poor