The Bob’s Burgers Movie is a family recipe that warms the heart, griddle and soul. Loren Bouchard and Bernard Derriman translate the Belchers’ blue-collar experiences from a television snack to a feature-length meal without losing an ounce of the show’s secret sauce. It’s delectably reminiscent of The Simpsons Movie, both successfully stretching what could be a compact 30-minutes into a grander, more spectacular version with theatrical blockbuster freedoms. Bob and company cook a meaty treat for fans that hospitably welcomes newcomers not yet keen on the Belcher’s charms.
The film treatment follows a week in the lives of grillmaster Bob Belcher (H. Jon Benjamin), his always exuberant wife Linda (John Roberts) and their three children: Louise (Kristen Schaal), Tina (Dan Mintz) and Gene (Eugene Mirman). Panic strikes when Bob’s denied an extension on their loan payment—monthly debts must be cleared in seven days or they lose the restaurant. Wonder Wharf’s upcoming festival should attract plenty of foot traffic for possible sales, but that point becomes moot when a pipe bursts and creates a hazardous hole that blocks access to their storefront. Also, there’s a dead body. Has Linda’s optimistic “Big Mom Energy” finally met its match?
Visually, The Bob’s Burgers Movie sees an animation upgrade as flatter landscape drawings embrace a three-dimensional, pop-off-the-screen style. Vibrancy saturates colors, and outlines are cleaner due to the benefits of a theatrical movie budget. That’s not to say the signature “crudeness” of the circular cartoon characters is lost—Bouchard’s artists just ensure that there’s a difference between the weekly small-screen releases and the grandeur of in-theater projections. It’s a proper counter against the curiosity of how Bob’s Burgers would differentiate itself between in-home streams and ticket prices. The definition is crisper, Bob’s foodie creations a bit tastier and environmental details a little more luscious—appropriately dressed for the occasion, if you will.
Returning viewers shouldn’t worry about any dip in storytelling quality at a longer duration. The Bob’s Burgers Movie recalls the same family-operated anxieties confronted throughout 12 seasons (so far), staying around Bob’s coastal eatery. Familiarity lays the foundation for another classic Belchers escapade, only with graver stakes. Bob’s existential fears as an unsuccessful burger maestro, Louise’s furious desire to prove she’s no baby and Tina’s sweaty-palmed crush on Jimmy Junior (H. Jon Benjamin) are canonically prevalent. With an additional hour of narrative exploration, Bouchard (with co-writers Jim Dauterive and Nora Smith) allows Bob and Louise to stew in their emotional dilemmas. Those heroic dad jokes, Gene’s innuendos, the catchy musical interludes—all beaming with greasy-good vibrations like Bob on Thanksgiving—there’s just more to chew on, which doesn’t upset as Bouchard proves the Belchers can endure more complex adventures.
You’d expect a cavalcade of cameos or returning bit players, but The Bob’s Burgers Movie is refreshingly Belcher-oriented—it wouldn’t be Bob’s Burgers otherwise. Drunken landlord Calvin Fischoeder (Kevin Kline), his bumbling brother Felix (Zach Galifianakis) and their lawyer cousin (David Wain) become the Belcher’s de facto supporting cast because of Calvin’s position. The children interact with their usual classmates, and Teddy (Larry Murphy) lovingly overacts his best friend duties without boundaries, but that’s the extent of necessary side characters—which might feel like a slightly missed opportunity to some.
While there are a thousand reasons to compliment the chefs who add fresh storytelling ingredients to the tried-and-tested Bob’s Burgers formula, there are episodes that feel more sprawling than Bouchard’s contained feature. Food for thought, as even Gayle (Megan Mullally) doesn’t disrupt Linda’s mojo with another feline anecdote. Although, on the patty-flip-side, there are no distractions from the Belcher brand. They’re allowed to be their hairy-armed, zombie-fetishizing, bunny-ear-wearing selves without overcomplications that can sometimes crowd feature adaptations fixated on flashy new additions over streamlined narrative confidence.
Crumb-sized quibbles aside, The Bob’s Burgers Movie brings us closer than ever to everyone’s favorite happily dysfunctional restaurateurs. There’s nothing sacrificed as we bite into a multilayered experience that comes loaded with all the fixings—it’s sweet, salty, comforting and rich with imaginative absurdity. Bouchard creates the animated carny musical that smells like the crusted beef of his dreams, which only encourages the Belchers’ legacy as American middle-class darlings who inspire hope through fart humor, menu wordplay and funny voices. As an already adoring fan? I’m left delighted and plenty stuffed—one happy customer.
Director: Loren Bouchard, Bernard Derriman
Writer: Loren Bouchard, Nora Smith
Starring: H. Jon Benjamin, Dan Mintz, Eugene Mirman, Larry Murphy, John Roberts, Kristen Schaal, Zach Galifianakis, Kevin Kline
Release Date: May 27, 2022
Matt Donato is a Los Angeles-based film critic currently published on SlashFilm, Fangoria, Bloody Disgusting, and anywhere else he’s allowed to spread the gospel of Demon Wind. He is also a member of the Hollywood Critics Association. Definitely don’t feed him after midnight.