Movie Review TagNominally known as the “funniest cooks on television,” the Belchers family, as seen on Bob’s Burgers, have found a notably wide audience; even those who don’t like animation seem to find them hard to resist. But can these characters carry an entire movie on their own, or will they suffer a similar fate as The Simpsons and The Flintstones on the big screen? The Bob’s Burgers Movie is here to prove that they can.

As written by Loren Bouchard and directed by Bouchard and Bernard Derriman, Bob’s Burgers will put a smile on your face and keep it there, like a juicy meal on an empty stomach. There may not be any meat in terms of plot–and what it has runs out of steam by the end– but in a film like this, the story is just an excuse to hang quirks and personalities on. Bob’s Burgers has both in abundance. Combining the heart of network sitcoms and the humor of FOX animation, the film has a rich tonal balance, and Bouchard (who co-directed 12 seasons on TV) excels at giving audiences a movable feast of culinary puns that are crucial to the show’s success.

It’s almost summertime in this unnamed place that feels like any number of beach towns on the Jersey coast. For the Belcher kids, that means boundless opportunities. The oldest daughter Tina (Dan Mintz) is dreaming about summer crushes; Gene (Eugene Mirman) is getting a band together and playing a new instrument called “tiny drums”; and Louise (Kristen Schaal) is trying to prove to her friends that despite her pink bunny hat, she’s not a child.

Their parents, however, have more adult contingencies. The bank is threatening to take away their restaurant if they don’t pay back a loan, which puts them between a broc and a chard place. Bob (H. John Benjamin) isn’t sure how he’ll raise the money with a sink hole in front of their restaurant, and his wife Linda (John Roberts), who sings about sunshine, seems out of place when their landlord goes to jail for murder. Now how will they get the money to pay off their loans?

Anyone who has seen the show knows that, whenever the Belchers are backed into a corner it’s the kids who bail them out. While the parents try to make extra dough, the kids are off on a wild goose chase to find the real murderer, who may or may not have something to do with a string of deaths down at the wharf. In a wink to TV fans, Louise nabs the suspect, a homage to her detective work on season five, episode two.

Although Bob’s Burgers is formulaic and familiar, what makes it work is its willingness to stick to the recipe. The movie is essentially an episode from season four (Food Truckin’) or season five (Midday Run) stretched out to motion picture length. There’s no growth, no innovation, and Bob, at his grill, keeps making the same mistakes because without his mistakes we don’t have a story. It’s actually a brilliant way to keep fans satisfied and newcomers intrigued.

The animation is savory. The characters are pasty, lively and rendered in 2D, and their wacky adventures are set against blue skies and Jersey shores. It’s simple but beautiful and effective, though it’s the one-liners that’ll stick with you. The jokes by Mirram and cameos by Kevin Kline and Zach Galifianakis, are laugh-out-loud kooky, and it’s rare to hear an entire theater crack-up these days. Benjamin also turns in a winning vocal performance as the snark-heavy patriarch. Bob and Belchers haven’t aged a day since they premiered on FOX in 2011, but as the new film’s sizzle proves, the zingers that remain timeless.

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