'The Bob's Burgers Movie': The Belcher Family is Charming as Ever in Their Big Screen Debut
In early 2011, the first episode of Bob's Burgers premiered on the Fox network. I remember seeing a commercial for it and doubting whether it would last. I figured that with the amount of juggernauts in the adult animation block on Fox that it would probably last a season or two and be cancelled, but I could not have been more wrong. While the show did take a couple of seasons to find its groove, it ended up being a massive hit, and recently finished its twelfth season with no signs of stopping any time soon. Given the show's success and devoted fan base, a film adaptation seems like the next logical step for the series, as it has the potential to do well at the box office. Time will tell if this ends up being a commercial hit, but either way, there is little doubt in my mind that fans of the show will eat this movie up and have a great time with it.
I didn't get into Bob's Burgers until the first few seasons were streaming on Netflix, but I have kept up with it since then. The show is so comforting and wholesome, and a nice alternative to other animated series for adults which tend to be overly raunchy or deal with heavy themes. It's a feel-good show through and through, which is likely why it has such a strong following. One of my favorite things about the series is how it keeps things relatively simple. Sure, there are episodes where it gets fantastical (usually via fantasy sequences or episodes where the characters tell each other stories) but the plots usually stay within the realm of possibility. The humor that the show is able to get from the most basic premises is a huge factor of its success, and helps it stand out from other animated shows. It has a trademark sense of humor and method of storytelling, and it has held up for them quite well over the years.
The show hasn't quite reached the point where it feels like it has run its course, which is both a good and a bad thing for the movie. It's good because the film can capitalize on its successful run, but it also doesn't leave a lot of room for it to surprise audiences. TakeThe Simpsons Movie, for example. This film came out in 2007, when The Simpsons TV series was in a bit of a fallow period creatively. Many were skeptical about the film, but it ended up being a smash with audiences, both critically and commercially. This served as a surprise compared to the show, and many still look back fondly at The Simpsons Movie. Time will tell how people will see The Bob's Burgers Movie in the future, but considering it is about at the same level as the TV show in terms of quality, it doesn't quite have as big of an impact as it could have.
That being said, the film is still good, and is more or less what one would expect a Bob's Burgers movie to be like. The film's plot details The Belcher Family preparing to have a wonderful summer, but when a sinkhole opens right in front of their restaurant, it sets off a chain of events that finds the family struggling to keep the business open. The plot goes off in a couple of wild directions that I won't spoil here, but it feels in line with the show's sensibilities. The film largely features the family, with most of the supporting characters from the show either appearing briefly or as a small, wordless cameo, which helps keep the film from feeling overstuffed. In some ways, the film does feel like a super-sized episode of the TV series, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it does hold the film back from time to time.
Much like the show, the film's greatest strength lies in its core cast of characters. Every member of the Belcher family is so likable and unique from each other, and all of them have their moment to shine in this movie. Each of them are so funny in their own way, and it's clear that the voice cast loves portraying these characters. As stated above, a lot of the supporting characters don't feature too prominently in the film, which is understandable, but it would have been nice to see some of the other minor characters get a little more to do here.
Yet another strength is the film's music, which is quite catchy and used rather well throughout. The show frequently has musical numbers, so it would make sense if the film was a bit of a quasi-musical. Part of me wishes that the film would have just been a full-tilt musical, a la South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut, but the numbers we do get here suffice nicely. I particularly liked the film's opening number, Sunny Side-Up Summer, and the song Lucky Ducks which is an unexpected, yet delightful number sung by a group of carnys that work at the Wonder Wharf, a local amusement park occasionally featured on the show. Music is such an integral part of the show, so it makes sense that it would be such a major part of the film, as well. I do wish it featured maybe one or two more numbers, but I'm more than happy with what we get.
This film was likely made to be accessible to longtime fans and newcomers alike, and as a result, feels like a bit of a crowdpleaser. It still manages to keep the spirit of the series while still serving as a potential entry point for those who have never seen an episode of the TV show. I kind of wish the film took some bigger swings, as it does kind of play it safe for the most part, but the film we do get is such a great encapsulation of the series as a whole. It's a solid screen adaptation, and a rather pleasant film overall. I wasn't overly impressed, as it pretty much was what I was expecting, but it's still a fun little movie nonetheless. I can't speak for those who don't watch the show regularly, but for me and those who have kept up with the show over the past several years, this movie has just what you want to see in a Bob's Burgers movie.