For Fans Only: Don Your Burger Bikinis for 'The Bob's Burgers Movie'

(L-R): Tina Belcher (voiced by Dan Mintz), Linda Belcher (voiced by John Roberts), Louise Belcher (voiced by Kristen Schaal), Bob Belcher (voiced by H. Jon Benjamin), Gene Belcher (voiced by Eugene Mirman), and Calvin Fischoeder (voiced by Kevin Kline) in 20th Century Studios' THE BOB'S BURGERS MOVIE. 

TV shows have a long history of being converted into feature length films. As early as the 1950s, radio dramas turned TV shows like Captain Video and His Video Rangers and Dragnet made big-screen debuts. The 1979 Star Trek: The Motion Picture exceeded box office expectations and set the mold for many shows to come: TV shows converted to movies often release after a show ends, giving fans one last chance to revisit beloved characters (think Downton Abbey). Such films feel like special events, making the trek to the theater worth it. But with the variety of streaming services now available, developing a film for theatrical release from a TV show while the show still runs truly defies all reason. Throwing caution to the wind, 20th Century Studios releases The Bob's Burgers Movie, directed by Loren Bouchard and Bernard Derriman, with screenplay by Bouchard and Nora Smith.

Voiced by the original cast, The Bob's Burger Movie allows show fans the chance to see the Belchers try to save the family business and solve a mystery, taboot. Sales are down at the burger restaurant, and Bob Belcher (voiced by H. Joh Benjamin) worries about paying the rent. But the scene becomes more dire after a water main breaks and a sinkhole opens right in front of the entrance of Bob's Burgers. With her signature pluck, Linda (voiced by John Roberts) tries to make the best of the situation, creating signs suggesting customers enter through the alleyway (watch your step). Meanwhile, Tina (voiced by Dan Mintz) wants to get up the courage to tell Jimmy Junior (voiced by H. John Benjamin) how she feels, Gene (voiced by Eugene Mirman) invents a new instrument he is sure will make him famous, and Louise (voiced by Kristen Schaal) needs to convince her fellow students she's not a baby just because she wears pink rabbit ears. Louise's plan to videotape herself doing a brave stunt near the sinkhole reveals a very dead body, creating a new complication. It's up to the Belchers to save their store and solve a murder or two, with the help of some carnies, a little luck, and a fabulous burger bikini.

A sinkhole forms. A still from THE BOB'S BURGERS MOVIE.
The plot feels like an extended TV episode, with groan-worthy musical numbers, absurd humor, and touching family drama. The Belchers are totally awkward but they love one another unconditionally, including true blue friend Teddy. The plot includes adventure, humor, and mayhem, and seedy goings-on via a small town carnival are a favorite trope. Still, the question remains: Who asked for this? Sure, Bob's Burgers has its loyal fan base, as any show must that has lasted 12 seasons. But why create a movie for theatrical release instead of an extended "special" on a streaming service ? By all counts, the viewer count has been decreasing since 2014.

Don't get me wrong. There is enjoyment to be had here. For viewers who are familiar with the series, The Bob's Burgers Movie will offer a cozy retreat. Instead of trying to expand the Bob's Burgers universe too much to match the big screen experience, Bouchard, Derriman, and Smith choose to keep the focus small and tight on the family at the heart of the show. Besides the addition of the murder mystery, the goings-on are familiar: the adults worry about the business, Linda worries about Bob, the kids worry about their parents (and think of a scheme to make it alright), the parents protect their kids, and everything works out in the end. Song and dance numbers pepper the screenplay, just like in the TV show. These musical numbers are best described as atonal with stream of consciousness lyrics. They serve only to heighten the absurdity of the situation. As someone who was forced to watch the series by some friends, I grew to love the offbeat tone and punchy writing and even have a favorite episode ("Crawl Space," if you please).
Linda Belcher (voiced by John Roberts) in 20th Century Studios' THE BOB'S BURGERS MOVIE. 

But the movie doesn't stand alone, and I don't see it drawing in new viewers. Perhaps if a movie is to be made, it's better to do it now, before the audience numbers drop further. Fans of the show, assemble. All others, skip The Bob's Burgers Movie and enjoy another viewing of The Mitchells vs. The Machines, the smarter, funnier spiritual cousin of The Bob's Burgers Movie.

Release info: In theaters May 27, 2022

Final score: 3.5 out of 5