BY THOMAS WOOD
The Bob’s Burgers Movie is a movie that stems from the popular adult animated TV show Bob’s Burgers. The show and movie star the titular Bob and his family, struggling to make ends meet as they run a hole-in-the-wall burger restaurant placed somewhere on the American east coast.
I first watched the Bob’s Burgers Movie as a joke. It began as an idea for a movie for me and my friends to watch in the dead of the night: the kind of movie you watch at two in the morning under the assumption it’ll be so bad it’s good. However, what I and my friends failed to realize was the true mastery of the Bob’s Burgers Movie. Be not swayed by the box office failure of this film, for it’s a true diamond in the rough.
The Bob’s Burgers Movie, like the series, mainly stars Bob and the rest of the Belcher family: wife Linda, oldest child Tina, middle child Gene, and youngest child Louise. They all have different plans to make this summer the best one yet, but when a ruptured water line creates a huge sinkhole in front of the burgeria, plans change in a heartbeat. Bob and Linda’s storyline first centers on trying to get a loan extension for their store equipment, to no avail. They ask their landlord, the eyepatch-wearing Mr. Calvin Fischoeder (pronounced Fish Odor for ease of reading), to skip this month’s rent in order to pay back their loans. However, when the sinkhole opens, desiccated human remains are found within, and Fischoeder is convicted due to owning the property it was found on. With Fischoeder under investigation, a rent skip is unlikely, and much of Bob’s store equipment is to be repossessed. Bob’s best friend Teddy comes up with the idea to sell food using a portable food stand, and the Belcher couple and Teddy move to the boardwalk to try and scrounge up loan money.
The kids, Tina, Gene, and Louise, take it upon themselves to prove Fischoeder’s innocence and therefore save their family from crippling debt. The kids’ story mainly focuses on youngest child Louise, and her struggle to be brave in times of strife. When she ventures into the sinkhole to investigate the found human remains, she finds evidence in the form of a cufflink on the skeleton, provoking a further examination. It’s found that Fischoeder’s cousin, Grover, is the perpetrator, attempting to frame Calvin Fischoeder in order to inherit the family fortune. The kids end up in Grover’s secret underground lair through investigation, and Bob and Linda stumble upon it after having been chased off the boardwalk by carnies.
This is where the movie’s main climax takes place. Grover discovers the children in his lair while talking with Mr. Fischoeder, and since they reveal his true plan, they get tied up along with his cousin. Grover then tells his hostages the second part of his master plan: after framing Calvin for the murder, he would burn the boardwalk to make way for his new mall, and drown Fischoeder using a theme park submarine. An amendment is made to the plan to include the unforeseen Belchers: they would burn alongside the boardwalk. Of course, he first puts his cousin into the submarine designed to kill him, giving the Belchers time to escape and flee. This is until Grover finds out, pursues the family, and ends up burying them in the very same sinkhole he buried his first victim. The family shares a moment of hopelessness until another water main breaks, creating what is essentially the exact same sinkhole in the exact same place. The Belchers are saved. They then rescue Fischoeder and get Grover apprehended. Fischoeder is so grateful to the family that he allows them to skip this month’s rent, effectively allowing the family to pay back their loans. And, since the perpetrator has been found, the crime scene sinkhole in front of the Belchers’ restaurant is filled, returning business to normal.
Overall, I think this plot fits the bill rather well. The show is often known to be significantly more grounded in its events as compared to other adjacent adult animation, so having a murder mystery-type story keeps a level of realism while still contributing to a believable drama. Louise’s character arc where she has to learn to be brave fits well with the events of the story. I will admit that the “family can’t pay off a loan/debt” plotline is pretty saturated, especially in the first few seasons of the show, but it feels like it has a fresh coat of paint in the movie.
Nuance– references, musical numbers, faithfulness:
Being an adaptation, this movie naturally provokes the argument of adaptation credibility: how faithful is the movie to the show? Well, I am proud to report that the movie teems with the same personality that made many fall in love with the show. In fact, me and my friends loved the movie so much that we began watching the show, and we’ve now watched a solid portion of what the show has to offer. It’s clear that the show’s original creators were very involved in the creation of the movie. Many lovable characters that made their debut in the show either cameo or star in the film, and every character is voice acted by the same talented actor that’s played them since the beginning. The musical numbers are filled with personality, and make you feel for the characters. The opening song, “Sunny Side Up Summer”, provides a great buildup and contrast between the optimistic feeling of hope and the harsh reality that their loan won’t be extended. All in all, the movie is very faithful to the show, and every little detail just fills this movie to the brim with personality. A single gripe that I have with the movie is the lack of improvised lines. Obviously, a movie script isn’t something that can often be broken, so this is hard to amend. However, many of the show’s funniest moments came from the fact that voice actors broke the script and added their own authenticity.
Production- art, animation, etc:
Many criticize Bob’s Burgers for having rough animation– Family Guy in particular stating that the show “looks like it was animated in a moving car.” However, after watching the movie and much of the show, I have to disagree. The animation is very expressive, and for the most part it’s very fluid. The art direction is obviously relatively crude, as many adult animations are, but it helps give many characters and locations a realistic edge. It’s obviously no art marvel by any standard, but it does what it needs to do, and the fluidity of the animation can at times surpass expectations. And for all the rough edges it may have at times, it does what it needs to do in terms of supplementing storytelling and supplying subjects with ample personality.
The Bob’s Burgers Movie is a great movie that stays faithful to source material while still feeling like a new, original creation. It definitely feels like a work of passion by the original creators. And although it was a dictionary definition of a box office failure (budget of 38 million, box office 34.1 million), it still did wonders for the 2D animation industry. Reintroducing 2D animation into theaters is a huge deal, especially considering Disney hasn’t had a 2D film in theaters since 2011. Introducing a film to theaters that oozes with love while reviving the art of 2D animation is certainly something to be respected, regardless of box office success. It’s for that reason (and the reasons above) that this movie deserves a healthy 8/10 rating.
Overall Review: 8/10