Let’s talk about The Bob’s Burgers Movie.
Around 15 years ago, I cannot be bothered to Google this, The Simpsons Movie was released. It was a big hit and even to this day if I say the word ‘Superpig’ you’ll have that song stuck in your head for the rest of the day. If I mention Baby Shark it might leave your head and be replaced with something else. It did become a pain in the arse for any other animated show primarily aimed at adults because they would constantly be asked when they were doing a movie. I think Seth MacFarlane actually did get a pound every time he was asked when he was doing a Family Guy movie and that’s how he funded The Orville. Bob’s Burgers is probably the only non-MacFarlane show not named King of the Hill that has been successful in Fox’s Animation Domination line-up and they are sick of the same questions too so they’ve just made a movie to get rid of them.
The bank are calling in the loan on Bob’s Burgers so Bob only has a week to raise the money to save his restaurant. The big problem is that a sinkhole has appeared in front of his restaurant stopping people coming in to make matters more complicated, the skeleton of a murdered man is found in said sink hole leading to their landlord being accused of the crime.
As with all critics who write a review of a TV series that is turned into a movie, you have to start off by qualifying how much you actually know about the series. I have seen a few episodes of the show and know the characters and general conceit of what goes on. I’ve enjoyed what I’ve seen but I’ve not exactly been desperate to go back and watch more. I have Disney+, I haven’t bothered to binge it yet is what I’m saying here. So while I have a leg up on knowing stuff about the show going in, I doubt I will get any inside jokes or things that are here for the big fans. And this show definitely has its passionate fans as there are those who claim this is the best animated show out there.
So this film is a sort of musical. If The Simpsons or Family Guy decided to do a movie musical, it wouldn’t be surprising. Both have a fine musical tradition and classic songs which make you see why they’d decide to make a big go of it in the cinema. To my knowledge, Bob’s Burgers does not have that same tradition, though I’m willing to be proven wrong. It definitely doesn’t have a classic song like the Monorail or Mr Booze that gets known outside of its fanbase. So it’s certainly a brave choice to chuck a few songs into this movie. The songs are fairly decent, catchy numbers which definitely add to the film rather than takeaway. But the film doesn’t really commit to them. There’s about four songs in the film and there’s such a long time between them it’s easy to forget that this is kind of a musical. Just to show my point, I’ve been binging American Dad, another show from Fox’s Animation Domination line-up, and as I was writing this review the hot tub musical episode was on. In 22 minutes of run time, there were far more songs than in this feature length film. This film needed to either commit fully to the musical idea or just give it up.
The film though, is casually quite funny. By that, I mean it is never really laugh out loud funny. It never becomes the laugh riot that the PR people behind the movie would want it to be so they can slap that quote on the poster. But having seen the TV show enough, I know that the original source material rarely gets more than that snort which is enough for you to text LOL back to a friend’s meme. So I would say that this is on the same sort of level. The jokes do land and they come quick enough that even when there is a bit of a dud, another comes along that lifts you back up. It’s definitely as funny as the show which is what you’d want.
In terms of translating from the small screen into the big, it’s a fairly good job. The major problem with a lot of TV shows coming to the big screen is that they struggle with the pacing that an extended run time demands. This film doesn’t have that issue. It comes up with a plot that is essentially an extended version of the show but it never feels like it’s got padding just so it can call itself a movie. It combines a classic plot of trying to get enough money to stop the business closing with a murder mystery that is distant enough that it isn’t very dark. Add that with some personal arcs and it feels like it has been written very smartly and avoids some of the problems films of its ilk have had before.
It does have some problems which come with the adaptation. Being a movie on the big screen means you need to realise that a new audience is going to see your material. This is an opportunity as it might bring in entirely new fans to the show. But I don’t think the film does particularly well on introducing this world to new fans. It doesn’t take the time to introduce the characters if you aren’t already familiar with them and I think it might be difficult for those who haven’t seen the show to get to grips with the various dynamics on display. Heck, one of the B storylines is based upon the fact Louise has never taken her hat off, something you wouldn’t understand has been her defining character look if you haven’t been with the series for the last 10+ years. This isn’t The Simpsons where most people have seen a few episodes or have absorbed the idea of the show through osmosis. People don’t know Bob’s Burgers as well and it needed to take some time to introduce the characters so the plot can have a bigger impact.
Fans of The Bob’s Burgers Movie are going to be very happy with what they get. If you know the show well, you get an extended length episode on the big screen with plenty of funny moments and it’s definitely one you’ll enjoy watching. The only people who will have major problems with this film are those who haven’t been watching the show. For them, they will struggle to get to grips with the characters or wonder why they should even care about what’s going on. Of course, it’s easy to say this is for the fans and it shouldn’t be bothered about those who haven’t seen it before. But when you take your show to the cinema and are willing to take the money off everyone who might want to see it, you should make sure everyone can enjoy the experience.