The pandemic has seen numerous planned theatrical releases take the streaming alternative. Some fans feared that The Bob’s Burgers Movie might meet the same fate. After all, the Fox animated series is already rooted in TV. So, releasing it on Hulu or Disney+ wouldn’t have been far-fetched. To quote Homer Simpson in The Simpsons Movie, “I can’t believe we’re paying for something we can get on TV for free.” Thankfully, The Bob’s Burgers Movie maintained its theatrical engagement because it’s well worth seeing on the big screen. Okay, it doesn’t possess the scope of Top Gun: Maverick, but the crew brings a cinematic quality to the animation that deserves better than your iPad.
We’ve seen the Simpsons save Springfield from the EPA and the South Park boys stop a war on Canada. The Bob’s Burgers Movie doesn’t go overboard with an end of the world plot, preserving the show’s simplistic charm. At the same time, the story is grander than a standard episode or a standard two-parter. As the Belchers struggle to make a crucial payment, a sinkhole blocks the restaurant’s entrance. Between The Simpsons Movie and this, films based on animated sitcoms have a way of working sinkholes into the plot. When things appear to be at their bleakest, they become even bleaker when youngest child Louise (Kristen Schaal) discovers a dead body down there.
As parents Bob (H. Jon Benjamin) and Linda (John Roberts) race to raise funds, Louise encourages siblings Tina (Dan Mintz) and Gene (Eugene Mirman) to help her solve the case. The murder mystery story is reminiscent of the Season 2 Goonies parody, The Belchies. The stakes are raised, though, with the added risk of a killer on the loose. While the mystery itself isn’t that hard to figure out, it does pave the way for several fun set pieces that almost have a Hitchcockian vibe to them. The Hitchcock comparison further reflects the cinematic overhaul of the visuals. Art director Ruben Hickman provides more depth and shadows to the backgrounds, making this world feel juicier than ever before.
The Bob’s Burgers Movie is also something of a musical, although it doesn’t reach the Oscar-nominated South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut. The film opens on a high note with a jolly number that’s best described as Broadway with a Bob’s Burgers twist. After that, though, there are only two other numbers. Maybe two-and-a-half if you count Gene’s musical antics. Another song involves carnies, but it doesn’t do much to progress the story. Another serves as a clever way to get a lot of exposition out, but it admittedly sounds like a Whose Line Is It Anyway? hoedown. It’s not the Bob’s Burgers musical that one would desire, but maybe they’ll make The Central Park Movie next.
While the music could’ve used a little more meat, The Bob’s Burgers Movie seasons the comedy, excitement, and even the heart of its TV counterpart. There’s a sincere storyline regarding the bunny hat that Louise has been rocking for over a decade. It’s a surprisingly sweet film, despite all the dead bodies and burgers in bikinis. For longtime fans, it’s like a familiar meal that’s been super-sized. For newcomers who’ve never tasted the show, the movie will encourage you to come back for additional helpings.