A fun summer mystery with the 'Bob's Burgers' crew
Fans of "Bob's Burgers" will find a lot to savor in the long-awaited big screen adaptation of the Fox comedy about the oddball Belcher family. "The Bob's Burgers Movie" feels very much like the quirky show — just on a supersized scale, which is all it needed to be.
It's almost summertime in this unnamed place that feels like any number of browbeaten beach towns on the New Jersey coast. For the Belcher kids, that means endless possibilities. The oldest daughter Tina (Dan Mintz) is dreaming about summer boyfriends. Gene (Eugene Mirman) is getting a band together (his instrument is a napkin holder and spoons held together by a few rubber bands) and hoping for a big gig at the nearby boardwalk. And Louise (Kristen Schaal) is trying to prove to her classmates (and herself) that despite her hot pink bunny eared hat, she is NOT a baby.
Their parents, meanwhile, have more dire concerns: The bank is threatening to repossess their kitchen equipment if they don't pay back a loan. Bob's (H. Jon Benjamin) bribery burger (which he made special for the bank employee with an extra egg and everything) doesn't work. And he and his wife Linda (John Roberts) have to scramble to make a payment in two weeks.
Their cartoonishly wealthy and eccentric landlord Calvin Fischoeder (an ever delightful Kevin Kline) says he might consider waving rent for a month as he speeds away on a golf cart chugging champagne with his brother Felix (Zach Galifianakis) and lawyer cousin Courtney (David Wain). But matters are complicated further thanks to a massive sinkhole that opened in front of the burger joint, leaving the only way in through the gross alley.
Naturally the finances of the burger joint are not among the kids' highest priorities, especially when the remains of a long dead body turn up and they decide to skip school and help solve the murder of the boardwalk employee Cotton Candy Dan. They're related, but we won't spoil how.
"The Bob's Burgers Movie" feels very easy and lived in thanks at least in part to the fact that its vocal cast has been doing this for over 200 episodes. The film was also co-directed by series creator Loren Bouchard and its longstanding supervising director and producer Bernard Derriman and co-written by Bouchard and showrunner Nora Smith. They know the recipe for success by heart and didn't feel like they needed to push the envelope and be something else to make a splash in theaters. That includes sticking to its signature 2D animation.
There are even a few song and dance numbers sprinkled in. The songs are a study of contradictions: Somehow atonal, catchy, charming and awkward all at once. It's a pretty impressive feat. And yet they are so few and far between that it does feel like a bit of a stretch to be marketing this is a musical.
Eleven seasons in, the characters may not be ubiquitous enough to recruit any newcomers to start with the movie. The Simpsons and South Park were arguably more widely known when their movies came out. But "The Bob's Burgers Movie" is not impenetrable for a novice either. Like that no-frills burger joint with only one customer at the bar, it may even be worth the risk.
"The Bob's Burgers Movie," a 20th Century Studios release in theaters Friday, is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for "language and rude/suggestive material." Running time: 102 minutes. Three stars out of four.