Bob's Burgers: The Movie

***1/2

Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

Bob's Burgers: The Movie
"Well executed and simply done is the essence of a good burger, and the movie manages it."

Named for the TV show named for the eponymous restaurant named for its owner, The Bob's Burgers Movie feels like an extended episode. That might seem like damning with faint praise, but as a fan of the show myself it hit the spot nicely.

The challenge of taking an animated sitcom that usually runs some 22 minutes and stretching it to nearly five times that length isn't an easy one, The Simpsons Movie had similar struggles. Well, not similar struggles, there's no dome over the Wonder Wharf, but events are similarly hermetic. The Simpsons are now at 34 series, 731 episodes, Bob's Burgers are at 13 and 238 or so. The latter hasn't yet experienced the discontinuities of running for three decades, it's been observed that Bart's original birth year is now before Homer's.

There have been changes to characters, high profile ones too, in both the Simpsons and Bob's Burgers even though someone might acquire new surnames things return to the status quo ante. Or status quo auntie, in the cases of Selma Bouvier-Terwilliger-Hutz-McClure-Discothèque-Simpson-D'Amico (née Bouvier) and Gayle Genarro.

Neither Aunt Gayle nor her sickly cats appear in the film. Jimmy Pesto, Bob's neighbourly nemesis, does, albeit unvoiced. Though the character himself could well have participated in the events of January 6th, actor Jay Johnston's apparent actual involvement cost him that gig. Unvoiced, he's only seen spraying a hose at the nearly naked rollerskating guy.

That change is more consequence than the film manages. Oh, there are revelations, a fair few good jokes, and at least four songs. Gene Belcher's unique audio stylings also inflect the opening fanfare over whatever structural form of Fox or 20th Century produced this. I was paying more attention to the synthesiser fart noise.

Bob's is a neighbourhood restaurant that is perennially behind on the rent, the rates, but keeps going. They clearly do a good burger, the puns in the daily specials would keep me coming back but on the big screen you can see the price list and I, like Mort the mortician and Teddy the plumber would happily pay that every working day for a lunch of quality.

Well executed and simply done is the essence of a good burger, and the movie manages it. It's nice to get new perspectives on the town, to see new shop fronts and their punning names, to meet new people and be threatened by them. I don't know that it would convert anyone who wasn't already a fan, and I'm not sure that matters. It certainly offers a way in to the show that isn't as intimidating as ten years of TV might seem. In one of those episodes Bob says he "might have" tried crack, and if he did he "kind of liked it." The show isn't that addictive, but it is potentially as rewarding.

The regular cast return, and it's the same team behind the camera. It might be the benefit of relative youth but Bob's has not been quite so dependent on special guest stars or injected writing 'talent' as some shows, nor as dependent on surrealistic or even offensive cutaway gags, nobody calling their agent because there's an inanimate carbon rod floating in their pool.

The bigger canvas does mean that there's a car chase. Actual peril too, instead of the constant financial woes. It does open with a murder, but unlike Columbo the identity of the assassin is a secret. Until, at least, they reveal themselves, but it's fun while we get there.

Bob's foray into crack cocaine comes when he moonlights as a Taxi Driver, with attendant movie moments. Here there are nods to everything from The Hunt For Red October to a sense of Wes Andersonian whimsy, though the surname Genarro is one of the staff rather than borrowed wholecloth from Die Hard (where it's Gennero anyway). H John Benjamin may also voice suave alcoholic secret agent Sterling Archer, but Bob Belcher only sounds the same. He's far more a put upon everyman, and though they mean well his family don't always help. Wife Linda (John Roberts), daughters Tina and Louise (Dan Mintz, Kristen Schaal) and son Gene (Eugene Mirman) all get a chance at the spotlight.

It is perhaps in the quality of ingredients that Bob's does best. The cast are stupendous, Kevin Kline and Zach Galifianakis voice the Fischoeder brothers, erstwhile (and shady) landlords to most of the town. Gary Cole reprises a role as Sergeant Bosco, a differently disappointing detective than Clancy Wiggum. Dollars to doughnuts though they'll get around to a solution.

The Bob's Burgers Movie grinds its way to something satisfying, though surprisingly light given the stakes that feed into it. It's meaty enough to justify its run time and like a good hamburger sandwich it's probably worth a shake.

Reviewed on: 31 Jul 2022
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The Belchers try to save the restaurant from closing as a sinkhole forms in front of it, while the kids try to solve a mystery that could save their family's restaurant.

Director: Loren Bouchard, Bernard Derriman

Writer: Loren Bouchard, Nora Smith, Tony Gennaro

Starring: H Jon Benjamin, Kristen Schaal, Dan Mintz, John Roberts, Eugene Mirman, David Wain, Zach Galifianakis, Kevin Kline

Year: 2022

Runtime: 102 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: US

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