The parcel: Bob Belcher (H. Jon Benjamin) runs a seaside burger joint with his wife Linda (John Roberts). He just wants to keep his customers happy and keep his kids under some sort of control. With the bank on his tail, he needs a good summer to pay off his debts. That is, until a sinkhole appeared outside his restaurant, making it difficult for customers to enter. A skeleton also appears in the sinkhole, leading the kids to investigate big brothers Calvin (Kevin Kline) and Felix (Zach Galifianakis), who have something fishy about them…
The verdict: For the uninitiated, Bob’s Burgers is an American animated television series that has been running for 11 years, 12 seasons, and 238 episodes (and counting). He’s hugely popular and has won multiple Emmys, so just like The Simpsons before him, it was perhaps inevitable that he would eventually make it to the big screen with… wait… Bob’s Burgers Movie. Instead of 22 minute thin slices, there are now 102 minutes to feast and chew. Rather than being an assembled compilation of various storylines, there’s a continuing story revolving around a turbulent summer to save Bob’s Burgers from possible closure. Not so much an expansion of the series, but a chance to tell a more focused story in a feature-length time frame.
Narrative-wise, Nora Smith’s script starring Loren Bouchard and Jim Dauterive is quite detailed – more than you would normally expect from an animated movie. This may be because it is aimed more at an adult audience, even within the confines of its family rating. There are plenty of (light) jokes aimed at adults, mixed in with various shenanigans involving outdoor burgers, sinkholes, a police investigation, a hairy encounter with the carnival community, and secrets hidden in the bowels of the fairgrounds. where most of the action takes place. Bob must keep his anarchic family together even as his world begins to crumble, so this is a story with a big cartoon heart and just goes with it. It also has an even bigger mouth, with a quick rat-a-tat and often overlapping dialogue reminiscent of squishy comedy beginnings like His Girl Friday (though not quite as polished as that comedy classic). It’s sometimes exhausting to keep up, with jokes flying so fast they don’t have time to land and make an impact.
It’s also oddly disconcerting but mildly amusing to hear actors not disguising the fact that they’re adults playing young children or different genders. It adds to the irreverence of the whole affair, which for what it’s worth mostly sticks to the landing. Just about. The characters are quite likable, a purse of anime characters enhanced with lots of attitude and always with a joke in their back pocket for any occasion. It’s the characters and the voice work that drive the story forward, with enthusiastic contributions from the likes of Kevin Kline and Zach Galifianakis. The jokes and scenarios are sometimes bizarre, but in a good way. It’s the kind of movie that has a flashback embedded in a vivid dream sequence. Now, there’s something you don’t see every day, so The Bob’s Burgers Movie is marking its own territory in bouncy capitals. In a way, the film is the equivalent of a quirky fast food joint (in more ways than one) that slips into your eyes and ears while tuning into its own wavelength. So it’s not a gourmet burger, but it will do the trick by filling you up, entertaining you and making you laugh.
Rating: 3 / 5
Review by Gareth O’Connor
Bob’s Burgers movie information
Original fast food
In short: original fast food
Directed by Loren Bouchard, Bernard Derriman.
With H. Jon Benjamin, John Roberts, Dan Mintz, Kristen Schaal, Gary Cole, Kevin Kline, Zach Galifianakis.