“The Simpsons Movie” hit theaters in 2007, after the show’s iconic peak but before its sad transformation into a DNC talking point.
“The Bob’s Burgers Movie,” delayed due to the pandemic, arrives as the source material wheezes its way through its 12th season. The once-mighty show is now a shell of its former self, peddling tepid plot lines and stale gags unworthy of its past self.
The “Movie” version revives the corpse-like series, at least for a good half hour. The souped-up animation retains the show’s visual motif while upgrading it in subtle ways. The jokes? They’re intermittently sharp, and the show’s family dysfunction remains endearing.
The film opens strong, but once the mechanics of its mystery unfold the franchise shows its age anew.
The latest disaster to strike the Belcher’s family restaurant? A sinkhole opens up just outside the store front window at the worst possible time. Bob and Linda Belcher (H. Jon Benjamin and John Roberts) need a loan extension to keep their business afloat. That’s hard to do when customers can’t even reach the front door.
Plus, the hole reveals a long dead body, and the family’s unctuous landlord, Mr. Fischoeder (Kevin Kline, a perennial delight), is a prime suspect.
Can the Belchers crack the case, patch up the sinkhole and save the restaurant? More importantly, can the film squeeze in the show’s best recurring characters – Teddy (Larry Murphy), Gayle (Megan Mullaly) and Regular-Sized Rudy (Brian Huskey)?
The film’s opening number gives the saga a jolt, suggesting the show’s fading energy needed a theatrical boost all along. The “Bob’s Burgers” songs are generally a mixed bag, but their chutzpah alone makes them vital to the show’s success.
Sometimes similar happens here, although the musical moments prove maddeningly infrequent.
The mystery afoot offers another roadblock. Yes, we need a richer story to carry a feature-length presentation. But much of the drama involves a new character, Courtney (David Wain), and he lacks the comic enthusiasm of recurring favorites. We’d rather spend more time with Teddy, the show’s not-so-secret weapon.
Anyone new to the “Bob’s Burgers” franchise will quickly be lost. Why do we care about this weird family? And what’s with the girl wearing a rabbit hat? There’s little effort to ingratiate newbies, and the very nature of a series extension like this could confuse the uninitiated.
Still, it’s hard not to care about characters brought to life by gifted stars like Eugene Mirman (Gene) and Kristen Schaal (Louise).
The best way to enjoy this “Movie?” Sample some of the show’s very best installments, and then circle back to the theatrical version.
The film’s plot demands push Bob and Linda off screen for far too long, and reliable scene stealers like Teddy, Rudy and Tammy get short changed.
Still, the family’s odd comic rhythms remain blissfully intact, and it’s hard not to root for a family that perpetually gets dealt a bad hand.
They’re the American Dream sprung to life, even though said dream get dashed on a regular basis.
That alone makes “The Bob’s Burgers Movie” worth a look, but it’s best savored by fans hungry for a taste of the show’s early seasons.
HiT or Miss: “The Bob’s Burgers Movie” evokes the show’s singular charms, but it can’t maintain the giddy fun established in the first, engaging act.