A burger can go a long way. For the Belcher family a burger has taken them to twelve seasons and a little over ten years of great success. “Bob’s Burgers” the hit animated sitcom that premiered on FOX back in 2011 has now found its way to the big screen. Much like its predecessors of the same medium (The Simpsons and South Park) a movie seemed like the next best thing for Bob Belcher’s family which includes his wife Linda and their three children Tina, Gene, and Louise. For those that found themselves preoccupied on Sundays for the last ten years, “Bob’s Burgers” centers on a burger shop run by Bob Belcher and his family and the many antics they find themselves in throughout their small (and still unnamed) seashore community. If you ever bump into a fan of the show their enthusiasm becomes instantly clear. Even after a rocky start “Bob’s Burgers” has found its way into the social culture that quickly grew into a phenomenon and a household staple. So, what does this mean for a full length film? After a couple Covid related delays and a few secretive trailers the time has finally come to see if this would be the biggest and best day yet for the family. There is so much joy in this critic’s heart to say that The Bob’s Burgers Movie is the perfect film to kick off the summer season. This is in big part to the fact that the film itself is a celebration of summer and the adventures that it can bring. Blockbusters continue to try and bring the summer excitement that once consumed the 80’s and 90’s movie going experience, but very few (as of lately) have been able to remind us of what that joy felt like. Bob’s Burgers is a love letter to family fun, summer and the proof that a good meal can make lasting memories.
Things aren’t always easy for Bob (H. Jon Benjamin) a quasi-everyday man with some George Bailey-esque luck. Bob and his wife Linda (John Roberts) owes a lot to his landlord Calvin Fischoeder (Kevin Kline) and the bank is not too keen on helping them out. To make matters worse a giant sinkhole has appeared right in front of their store only blocking the door to his restaurant and nobody else’s; especially not Jimmy Pesto’s Pizzeria aka Bob’s arch nemesis. His kids however are seeing things on a brighter side if not still complicated on their own terms. Tina (Dan Mintz) wants to finally tell her crush Jimmy Jr (also H. Jon Benjamin) how she feels, Gene (Eugene Mirman) wants his band to perform all summer, and Louise (Kristen Schaal killing it as always) wants to prove to that she is actually brave despite her pink bunny eared hat. Louise really kickstarts the film using the sinkhole as a perfect opportunity to show off her bravery, and in typical Goonies fashion stumbles upon something truly horrible that has been kept in the sinkhole for years. This revelation causes a great commotion in the city leading to possible false arrests, murder and lots and lots of dancing carnies. Even at its height of adventure the film finds plenty of time to fit in its signature Gene one liners, some song and dance numbers and Linda’s classic always look on the bright side of life attitude. The show is far from broke allowing the film to not switch up the formula too much, but it never feels like just an extended episode. Its focus is always on its end goal of solving a great mystery.
There can be difficulty jumping into a movie adaptation of a long running show especially if one is not a fan or does not have the lore that super watchers do. Thankfully Bob’s Burgers is not “Game of Thrones” (it’s better) but for newcomers this is a great jumping on point. Some diehards may be disappointed to see side characters get, well sidelined, but the film never feels the need to be ninety minutes of fan service. Yes there are plenty of callbacks and a few lingering questions are finally resolved but this is all in favor of the main story. Previous episodes of the show have allowed everyone to take turns being the center of attention, but this contained story truly gives Louise her spotlight. An always interesting character Louise being the youngest battles being both a rebel and devoted daughter. She has plenty of outbursts and wants to be her own person, but there has always been a running theme of her love and protection of her family. Creator of “Bob’s Burgers,” Loren Bouchard gives his first attempt at directing a “Bob’s Burgers” with this film (alongside supervising director of the show Bernard Derriman) and you get the sense that they may feel most connected to Louise (this critic certainly does). The other two children have found their place, Tina is the oldest and rebels in a young teenage girl fashion, and Gene for all his lunacy is hopelessly devoted to both his mom and dad. Louise is basically Mikey in “The Goonies”, both the youngest of their respected bunch trying to lead even as they carry their own fears with them (Louise still feels hindered by her pink hat but can’t seem to throw it away). This hat allows the film to have a truly impactful and teary eyed moment that one may not expect from “Bob’s Burgers”, but if you have been paying close attention all these years the show, and movie, will always be about family love. The film is also smart that it never keeps the two groups apart for too long. The first half of the film may have them going on separate journey’s but it all leads back to family gatherings even in life threating danger. They work together and even fail together. There are plenty of adult oriented cartoons, but where “Family Guy” and “South Park” keep children and parents at a distance, “Bob’s Burgers’ embraces the absurdity of family chaos and family love. Bob’s character does not work without Linda’s optimism, and the children are a tripod, they just can’t stand without all three. In a film that has tons of hysterical moments, it is really quite endearing to see it all happen to them as a group and one that never turns its back on each other. Sure, families fight but the Belcher’s for all their complaining seem to have it pretty together.
When we look at pop culture right now we see a constant regurgitation and desperation to recreate the old. Spielberg is often the blueprint when it comes to these summer movies, and yet even its most obvious current influence (Stranger Things if you couldn’t figure it out) has yet to spark even an ounce of the same magic. Then how is it that the Belchers are the ones to truly succeed? This is due to, and pay attention other filmmakers, its carefree attitude and desire to never seem eager. It knows what it can and more importantly what it can’t be. A Memorial Day weekend release is perfect since the whole film practically screams “schools out for summer!” It knows you are sitting in a dark theater away from the beach, but it implores you to run out and grab a snow cone the second it ends. The film itself practically takes place entirely on a boardwalk, it’s not being subtle with its “have fun here and afterwards mantra.” That is the gift The Bob’s Burgers Movie gives you. The ability to escape for a little bit and then continue that freedom elsewhere. Just make sure to bring a burger, a song, and of course your lovable chaotic and very loud family. That is the recipe for a perfect summer.
THE BOB’S BURGERS MOVIE is in theaters everywhere May 27th