Review: ‘The Bob’s Burgers Movie’ makes for a hilariously tasty cinematic offering

An animated family inside a burger restaurant.
Bob Belcher (voiced by H. Jon Benjamin), from left, Linda Belcher (John Roberts), Louise Belcher (Kristen Schaal), Gene Belcher (Eugene Mirman) and Tina Belcher (Dan Mintz) in the animated movie “The Bob’s Burgers Movie.”
(20th Century Studios)

The long-running, award-winning Fox animated series “Bob’s Burgers,” created by Loren Bouchard, is an unassuming Hollywood success story. Built in the same mold as “The Simpsons” and “King of the Hill,” it’s no surprise that this irreverent, whip-smart and family-oriented animated comedy reached such heights, both commercially and creatively. The arrival of “The Bob’s Burgers Movie,” on big screens this week, seems like just the icing on the cake, but the film is also a refreshing contrast to the kind of cinematic spectacle that usually crowds theaters in the summer.

The comedy of “Bob’s Burgers” is manifold, and, like a great burger, it works because of the melding of elements to create something singular. There’s the writing, thick with jokes, puns and the cognitive dissonance of little kids making references wiser and naughtier than their years. There’s the voice acting, which makes the writing and characters even funnier. And then there’s the aggressively 2D animation style, which blown up on the big screen becomes a positively radical aesthetic. Plus, there are elaborate musical numbers, adding to the deliriously deadpan humor.

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It’s this combo that makes “The Bob’s Burgers Movie” not only work but sing as one of the funniest, smartest and most unique summer movies of the year, the kind of lighthearted, charming, low-stakes and incredibly intelligent entertainment that is all too rare. “Bob’s Burgers” is on its own wavelength, and it’s simply a treat to take that wave for a ride.

“Bob’s Burgers” follows the Belcher family, proprietors of a local burger joint in a seaside hamlet. Dad Bob (H. Jon Benjamin) flips the burgers, wife Linda (John Roberts) keeps the family together, and their three kids, Tina (Dan Mintz), Gene (Eugene Mirman) and Louise (Kristen Schaal), are going through their own challenges and growing pains, whether it’s a long-standing crush (Tina), a frustrated desire to be a musician (Gene) or an overwhelming desire to prove one’s bravery to the other kids at school (Louise).

In “The Bob’s Burgers Movie,” directed by Bouchard and Bernard Derriman, the family faces a business-crippling setback when a sinkhole opens up in front of their restaurant. It’s enough to send Bob into an anxiety spiral after their loan extension has been denied, threatening to put Bob’s Burgers out of business entirely. Struggling with insecurity at school, Louise enters the sinkhole in a misguided attempt at bravado and finds the skeletal remains of a local carnival worker, triggering a police investigation. While the kids head off on a wild-goose chase to discover the identity of the murderer, thinking it might help save their family, the parents try to save the business with their own scheme, selling burgers from a cobbled-together grill cart on the boardwalk. During this adventure, the Belcher kids become caught up in the carny underworld of their community, as well as the mysterious family misdeeds of their landlords, the Fischoeders (Kevin Kline, Zach Galifianakis, David Wain).

The antics are wacky, the jokes are dense, and “The Bob’s Burgers Movie” is both nail-bitingly tense and genuinely moving. It’s a story that demonstrates the powerful force of family unity, and that small businesses are tantamount to preserving the fabric of a community. But most importantly, it’s hilarious, and it’s likely to make you crave a burger too.

Walsh is a Tribune News Service film critic.


‘The Bob's Burgers Movie’

Rated: PG-13, for rude/suggestive material and language

Running time: 1 hour, 42 minutes

Playing: Starts May 27 in general release