Even for those who aren't fans of the original (and still ongoing) series or have never even seen it, The Bob's Burgers Movie is a genuine joy. The film is a consistently funny and proudly weird take on the movie musical genre that finds the perfect sweet spot between goofy and endearing to become one of the year's most joy-inducing films.
On the eve of summer, the Belcher family find themselves in an increasingly difficult situation: a sinkhole has opened up right in front of their burger restaurant, leaving Bob (H. Jon Benjamin) and Linda (John Roberts) desperate to make a payment on their equipment. All three of their children -- the awkward Tina (Dan Mintz), goofy Gene (Eugene Mirman), and the chaotic Louise (Kristen Schaal) -- are already contending with their own personal issues when they decide to try and solve a mystery to help out their parents. In the process, they stumble upon a decades-old secret surrounding their landlord Calvin Fischoeder (Kevin Kline) that could be the key to saving the business or dooming the family.
The film finds time for the entire cast, but its true emotional throughline is Louise. A brash and bombastic little girl, her confidence is called into question when another student calls her a baby for never taking off her beloved rabbit-ear hat. Schaal is the film's MVP, shifting from comically over-the-top to genuinely, heartbreakingly vulnerable at a moment's notice, keeping Louise at the heart of the film even as Tina's crush on Jimmy Pesto Jr., Gene's musical ambitions, or Bob and Linda's attempts to keep their store afloat take the forefront for a time.
Music is undeniably an important aspect of the original series, with many episodes featuring goofy little songs. The film is a musical, albeit one that plays with the format and grounds it so firmly in the real world that it adds to the bizarre hilarity. Every song and dance number is realistically stilted, adding to the laughs. A villain song in the third act is a particular highlight -- a strange and silly moment of dance choreography from someone who's clearly inexperienced and bad at it. It's these mundane qualities that contrast so well against the more bizarre characters and comedy, elevating the film and providing plenty of laughs -- with plenty of Easter eggs for fans that ultimately don't distract away from the film's story.
The film also looks gorgeous, with the primary team behind the show giving the purposefully blunt animation a simple but noticeable fluidity. Series creator Loren Bouchard wrote the film with Nora Smith and directed the film with Bernard Derriman, bringing a familiarity and love of the series to the new format. It feels very much in-line with the show but with an additional bit of smoothness to their actions. When the film moves, it moves -- with some particularly impressive lighting and visual tricks helping make the film's darker moments truly pop. Even at its darkest, The Bob's Burger's Movie remains a funny and endearing film, especially as it delves fully into Louise's storyline and uses it to help propel the entire plot forward.
The Bob's Burgers Movie will leave audiences grinning ear to ear, with infectious songs stuck in their heads and a soft spot in their heart. It's just a fun, nice film that doesn't take itself too seriously but never cheapens the characters in the process. It's a tricky balancing act, but one that the filmmakers pull off with aplomb -- benefiting from the confidence that over a decade on television can provide. Whether viewers watch the show it's based on or not, The Bob's Burgers Movie is definitely worth a trip to the theater.