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"The Bob's Burgers Movie": A Movie Based on an Animated Series Cooked Well-Done

Alex is a School of Visual Arts graduate with a passion for media, writing and animation. He writes reviews for film, television, and games.

"The Bob's Burgers Movie" teaser poster

"The Bob's Burgers Movie" teaser poster

Animated Television Series Entering the Silver Screen

When adapting a television show into a movie, chances would depend on who's in control of the project and what creative liberties would be taken. Sometimes, it works and other times, it doesn't. However, when it comes to theatrical films based on television series developed by the same people who worked them, they leave a hugely successful impact on the film industry. The most common examples are animated television series.

For decades, many iconic animated television shows took a perilous journey to the big screen. While a few missed their marks, many triumphed where the shows' creators expand their artistic capabilities by expanding their worlds and giving their animation a quality boost. It is very effective with children's series like SpongeBob Squarepants, My Little Pony, and recently PAW Patrol. Shows aimed at older audiences and adults also took risks and became successful at their own rites. These include Beavis & Butthead Do America, South Park: Bigger, Longer, & Uncut, and my personal favorite The Simpsons Movie. Speaking of the latter, it seems that 20th Century [FOX] Studios wants to make a lightning strike twice when they decided to adapt one of their hit animated shows, Bob's Burgers.

While The Simpsons and Family Guy continue to be Fox's longest-running properties, Bob's Burgers has been considered a genuine gem amongst audiences. Even when FOX tried desperately hard to expand its animation library with shows that get canned after a season or two, the Belcher family always found a way to win people's hearts thanks to its down-to-earth tone and character-driven humor.

Personally speaking, I did not get into the series when it first came out. After a while, I started watching the show and it gradually grew on me. While it's not up there with the other adult-animated series I've seen, it's still decent. So, this article will be coming from a casual fan. Regardless, I was intrigued when this movie would be hand-drawn animated and hit theaters. After scheduling conflicts and delays, the movie is finally out. How did the Belchers serve up this summer?

When a sinkhole opens up in front of their restaurant, the Belcher family must find a way to save their business before summer starts.

Summer, Finances, & Murder

So, how do you open up a movie about a family and their hamburger restaurant? Someone getting killed. After a catchy opening number about summer, we cut to the Belcher family being warned that they have a week to pay the bank their loan or else their business will be closed. On top of that, a sewage pipe breaks in front of their restaurant, thus making it more difficult for the Belchers to attract customers. As you could tell, the first act begins on a depressing note. I'm not saying that the entire movie is a downer to sit through, but it does give this sense of relatability that the family is going through and gives hope that they will come out okay. While it is aimed at fans with a few references and established characters, the movie also decently introduces newcomers to the Belcher family in a simple and understandable manner.

Once the kids discover there was a murder connected to these events, that's where the mystery comes into play. On paper, this type of plot sounds like an extended episode rather than a movie. In terms of execution, however, the writing helps give layers to the seaside community's history and the characters' arcs, which I'll discuss soon. Despite its predictability, the mystery itself has interesting clues, use of foreshadowing, and a thrilling climax.

Thankfully, the tone does balance out with its character-driven humor. Because the show's characters themselves carry the comedy, their dialogue is the most effective rather than shock-value and slapstick. Anyone that is unfamiliar with the show would find the dialogue a bit off-putting. On the brighter side, the rapid-fire humor would counter that argument with a clever joke when a certain joke doesn't hit its mark. Outside of making you laugh, the characters also supply the heart of the picture whenever there is an emotional or suspenseful moment. This movie proves you don't have to go all-out Hollywood-style; it takes the spirit of the show and makes the story enduring enough to satisfy anyone with good taste.

Refreshingly 2-D Animated

Want to take a break from mainstream computer-animated movies and are in the mood for hand-drawn animation? Well, this movie is up to your alley. As expected, the movie's art direction remains very faithful to the television series, except given a cinematic upgrade.

The character designs are basic with a hint of realism but now added shadows to give the drawings more depth. Similar to The Simpsons Movie, the character animation shares its television-quality but it does elevate whenever an action sequence occurs or when the characters dance during the musical numbers. In fact, the choreography is well-made and the highlight of the film's animation. As down-to-earth as the setting is, the movie also features a couple of fantasy sequences. These examples include Tina's horseback riding with her crush and zombies and Louise's counseling with gigantic versions of her toys. The background animation is also more detailed with great use of lighting and CGI is selectively implemented for cinematography and vehicles during the climax. For the latter, the movie offers an entertaining car chase scene between the family and the villain.

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At first, the town that the characters inhabit seems average with the restaurant itself being located on a street near an amusement park. But, once the mystery kicks in, we discover the history behind the Wonder Wharf park. While its employees reside in the slum trailer park, there is the abandoned Mole Hill ride that has a lavish secret clubhouse hidden underneath. It includes a maze full of miscellaneous go-karts, a secret underground route to various businesses, a pipe organ, sea relics, and a late 18th-century functioning submarine. You can make the argument that having these limited locations doesn't give the movie its cinematic scope when compared to others. Yet, due to the execution with the mystery itself being the focus, it keeps the areas simple and straightforward to keep on par with the sensible nature of the show.

It's not every day that you see 2-D animation in theaters and Bob's Burgers is an example that there is passion behind the medium and it is still alive and well for the future of cinema.


Deliciously Eccentric Characters

As previously mentioned, one of the best elements that distinguish Bob's Burgers from other FOX animated sitcoms is its cast of characters. Upon first impression, they seem strange. But, after getting to know them, there is this unexplainable sincerity to them that will invest fans and non-fans. This picture is no exception.

Starting with the Belcher family, Bob is the hardworking father that tries to keep both his family and restaurant afloat. Linda is an easygoing and supportive mother with an odd sense of humor. For their children, not only do they take center stage in solving the mystery, they all go through development that defines their personalities. Tina is the eldest and reasonable sibling who has a hard time confessing her feelings to her crush Jimmy Jr. Gene is the over-enthusiastic middle child with a creative passion for music. Lastly, Louise is the youngest yet a witty member of the family with the most development. Besides her mischievous behavior, she is pressured of being called a "baby" because of her rabbit-ear hoodie and progressively becomes courageous. This description alone is an example of introducing newcomers to the series with the right amount of context.

Among the recurring characters, besides Teddy who is the kind-hearted contractor and the family's regular customer, the key players in the mystery are the Fischoeder family. Their landlord Calvin is the wealthy owner of both the district and Wonder Wharf with a secret agenda. Accompanying him are his temperamental younger Felix and lawyer cousin Grover. Their roles and connections to the crime help build up the town's history and anxiousness revealing the murderer. Without giving much away, while some people may see it coming, the villain's motivation is simple yet diabolically funny. That character even went as far as trying to bury the family alive. Other characters that fans are familiar with are reduced to cameos and background characters.

If the characters themselves aren't enough to win you over, the voice acting helps add spice to their personalities and deliver big laughs whether acting or singing. H. Jon Benjamin and Dan Mintz's deadpan performances are uniquely entertaining, John Roberts' upbeat and optimistic voice gives Linda more charm, Eugene Marin is the funniest member of the group and Kristen Schaal's loud yet charming demeanor. There is a reason why people adore this show and these characters are quirky enough to be memorable.

Appetizing Songs

The most compelling aspect added to the feature is that it is a musical. Like other FOX animated sitcoms, the show was no stranger to having occasional musical numbers, including certain episodes being entirely musically-based. If memory serves me, this is probably the second animated film based on an adult animated series to be a musical. The first movie was South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut. While that movie's songs were meant to parody and satirize pop culture Broadway-style, Bob's Burgers takes a more natural approach. Loren Bouchard and co-showrunner Nora Smith wrote four songs for the picture and each one presents how the characters feel while combining with the show's comedic style.

The first song "Sunny Side Up Summer" is a tuneful opening number about the Belchers positively describing who they are and their upcoming summer plans. "Lucky Ducks" is a funny song about the carnival workers' lifestyle in the trailer town while talking about tough luck and confidence. Admittedly, both of the songs sound similar in melody but the lyrics and comedic timing differentiate from one another. The fourth and final song "The Itty Bitty Committee/Mr. Burger Buns" makes you want to dance just like the recurring characters.

The third song "Not That Evil" is a major exception not worth mentioning because is vitally important to the plot and reveals the villain's plan. So much so, that even the soundtrack excluded the song from the listing to avoid spoiling those who haven't seen it.

Making a musical takes time with proper care and Loren and Nora show that they have experience making songs that anyone would walk out with a favorite.

An Early Summer Treat For Everyone

Overall, The Bob's Burgers Movie is an enjoyable animated feature that will fill up anyone's hunger for 2-D animation on the big screen. Even if the writing has foreseeable moments and lacks scope, the rest of the movie comprises a tense mystery, authentic characters, melodic numbers, and the prominent use of hand-drawn animation maintaining the show's spirit. It is easily a high recommendation for the die-hard fans of the show. This movie will offer everything it has on its menu, even new customers would walk in and have a good flavor of it. Computer animation will always continue in the mainstream media, but every once in a while, we need a good 2-D animated feature to break the mold. The future is still bright for the medium and hoping more will come.

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