2D animation deserved better. For decades, it was the go-to art style and helped to make Walt Disney Pictures one of the biggest companies on the planet. Then along came PIXAR and Dreamworks, whose CG motion pictures made them as much money with seemingly less effort. There was a noticeable shift at the turn of the millennium where 2D movies started earning less at the Box Office and by around 2004, they were all but finished. They’re still out there, it’s just that they’re not hitting the mainstream anymore, and those that do, aren’t overly profitable. Unfortunately, this is the case for The Bob’s Burgers Movie.
The plot sees the Belcher parents (Lind and Bob) attempting to pay off the loan for their restaurant whilst the Belcher children (Tina, Gene, and Louise) solve a years-old murder. Unlike The Simpsons Movie or The Spongebob Squarepants Movie, this isn’t meant to serve as a conclusion to the Television show of which they are a continuation. (Bob’s Burgers, by the way, has barely faltered in quality over the last 12 series and is worth checking out if you haven’t already). Instead, it exists as part of the continuing story, which means it doesn’t require any finality or a bombastic plot. Spongebob journeyed across the ocean and The Simpsons traveled to Alaska but The Belchers never leave their hometown. The plot is marginally more extravagant than a regular episode of the show but not by much.
The main difference is in production quality. Bob’s Burgers has always looked and felt unique compared to other animated shows so a bigger budget and more staff simply exemplifies that. It seems unfair to call it more professional looking because the show has always looked professional. It’s simply more detailed. There are more shadows, and sweeping landscape shots whilst the edges and voice acting seem crisper. It’s a gorgeous film to look at, especially on the big screen.
It’s easy to get lost in the animation but the story is just as good. Each member of the family is dealing with an issue that allows for a miniature personal arc. Tina is worried about asking long-term love interest Jimm Junior to be her Summer Boyfriend, Gene is worried that he isn’t as musically gifted as he once thought and Louise is concerned that continuing to wear her pink hat with bunny ears is stunting her personal growth. Meanwhile, the parents’ journey is less about personal growth and more about dealing with a working-class issue…not having enough money. Each of these issues is proportional to the age of the characters, even if Tina’s has a fairly weak ending that maintains a series-old status quo.
It’s all tied together with a wonderful score by Tim Davies, including several songs written especially for the film by Loren Bouchard and Nora Smith. Musical numbers are nothing new as the show has been doing them at an increasing rate for years but there are more of them here. The show has one per episode whilst the film averages one every 20 minutes or so. They aren’t just decorations either, they actively push the plot forward as any Broadway song does. Actually, taking that into consideration, a Bob’s Burgers musical wouldn’t go amiss.
The Bob’s Burgers Movie didn’t exactly underperform. It made $31.8 million worldwide, which is around what 20th Century Studios predicted it would make, and it finished 3rd at the Box Office that week. It seems to have garnered praise from all who saw it, but when it’s up against a blockbuster like Top Gun: Maverick, it’s unlikely to remain in the public consciousness for long which is a shame.
This movie is burger flipping great.