THE BOB’S BURGERS MOVIE: The TV-to-Movie Pipeline Done Right

When I saw The Many Saints of Newark, the first thing that I noticed was that it dedicated itself rather diligently to try to play to fan service with The Sopranos while also trying to be a “culturally relevant” film for the general audience member. The worst tendencies of a movie that spins off of a TV show tend to be when they try to have it both ways, shoving in in-jokes that only people who have watched the show would know but keeping them awkwardly detached from everything else so as to not alienate people who are going in blind into the world of the film. Cartoons tend to be able to avoid all of this because of their self-contained episodic format that has some linearity but is not enough to be thoroughly confused for new viewers jumping right in mid-season. The Bobs’ Burgers Movie spends at least the first fifteen minutes rehashing the first season of the show.

An Extended Episode

Like The Sopranos, Bob’s Burgers is a show that I personally invested myself in because its central family is such a perfect medley of personalities that differentiate from each other but also tend to share and replicate the same exact behaviors as each other. They’re not random people stuck together for the sake of a show they really do feel like they grew with each other since birth.

THE BOB'S BURGERS MOVIE: The TV-to-Movie Pipeline Done Right
source: 20th Century Studios

The Belcher family’s awkwardness and their idiosyncratic ways of dealing with the perpetual strife that their failing family restaurant hangs on their necks are charming and hilarious to watch. All of the ongoing gags of the TV show are rehashed together in one big spree which feels like taking the entire first season and cutting it into a feature-length film. This comes with both benefits and drawbacks.

All The Fan Favorites Are Here

The movie centers on two major crises: The Belchers (or specifically Bob and Linda) need to make their next month’s rent to their landlord Calvin Fishoeder, a businessman with an eye patch and aristocratic accent who is actually kind of a moron if you look closer at him. Their kids, Tina, Gene, and Louise, become embroiled in a murder mystery when they find the skeleton of one of the local Carnies in a sinkhole in front of the restaurant.

THE BOB'S BURGERS MOVIE: The TV-to-Movie Pipeline Done Right
source: 20th Century Studios

This dual narrative is normal for the show and the jokes and beats play out in a familiarly fun and zany fashion. The movie is filled with sexually charged jokes, some low-hanging flatulence humor, and clever wordplays and awkward quips that make the Belcher’s anguish and misery a part of our enjoyment – mostly because we know they’re going to be fine in the end.

Conclusion:

For new viewers, The Bob’s Burgers Movie is undoubtedly a proper introduction to the characters and show, perhaps a bit more refined (maybe too refined?) in its cinematic rendition – the extra animated polish and shadowing that all cartoons do for their first big movie is here also and frankly, I’m not a fan of that trend – and for avid fans of the show, the movie might feel like we’ve all seen this before, but in a good way. What’s really special about Bob’s Burgers however is that the “Grand Re-re-re-re-re-openings”, the ongoing rent crisis, the lack of business, and Tina’s infatuation with Jimmy Jr. are constant motifs and threads that the show decided would never get resolved, or if they do they’ll only be temporary. That keeps things chugging along in this film and there’s no grand statement or moral finality made to the characters or their situation so the show can continue on after this without having to really acknowledge some giant narrative shift.

The Bob’s Burgers Movie was released in theaters in the U.S. on May 27th, 2022. 


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