Bob’s Burgers has been one of the great comforting forces of my adult life for pretty much as long as I have feasibly passed as a grown-up. I used to play episodes on repeat to fall asleep in the very first flat I ever lived in alone, cat standing on my head and ashtray balanced on the windowsill; it became a weekly ritual for my partner and I, after we moved in together, to order pizza and watch new episodes as they came out, legs hooked over each other on the couch. I re-discovered Sleater-Kinney after they did a music video collaboration with Bob’s Burgers. It’s constantly been a lovely, warm, familiar place for me to come back to, and, even though I had to go without a delicious regular season to tide me over, I’ve been looking forward to the movie since it was announced.
Honestly, I’m sure this would have been a more interesting review if the movie had been some utter, complete let-down. I’m sure I would have been able to put together some mean-spirited and much funnier article if I hated the Bob’s Burgers movie, but I can’t, because I didn’t – I really, truly loved it.
The biggest difficulty in moving a TV show like this one to the big screen, I think, is finding a way to balance the feel of the actual television episodes with something unique that justifies the movie-watching experience. The essence of Bob’s Burgers, for me, is this small-scale, often small-stakes story, and scaling that up to something that feels worthy of the big screen isn’t easy.
But the Bob’s Burgers movie manages to find that balance, and add new detail to the animation and style of the existing show that really elevates it to an impressive new level. The story has it’s bigger moments, and certainly ups the scale a bit, but fundamentally follows the low-stakes plots of the central familial five as they work through their individual issues. At the end of the day, the charm of the show and this movie is in the characters we’ve spent so much time getting to know, and an emotional throughline for all of them is more important than any grand overarching plot the writers could come up with. Add in the well-executed sprinkling of the show’s fantastic roster of side characters, and it feels like a celebration of the small community we’ve come to love via the show as much of a movie in it’s own right.
What’s elevated to a more grandiose level, more than the emotional stakes, is the production around this story – the iconic song-and-dance numbers are genuinely outstanding, complex in their construction and execution but all to serve the main point of their premise, and the animation is graced with a new level of detail that makes every frame an actual joy to examine. Saturated colours give it a warm, summery feel, and the show’s iconic background jokes get elevated with even more detail to play with. Lifting everything that surrounds these characters is the perfect way to make this feel worthy of a big screen outing, without missing out on the heart of the show beneath it.
It captures a sense of real summery joy, from the soundtrack to the visuals to the new detail in animation and lighting choices, and it feels like a gorgeously perfect way to sink in to movie-going summerdom. It’s ambitious and feels new for the show, but never fails to remember what Bob’s Burgers is; a comfort, a place to come and curl up and put everything to the side for a while, and just have fun with the Belcher family and company.
By Lou MacGregor
(header image via Pinterest)