Why The Bob's Burgers Movie Is A Medium Rare Example Of TV Adaptations Done Right
Making a movie from a TV show is chard-er than it looks.
Warning: SPOILERS for The Bob’s Burgers Movie are in play. If you haven’t seen the film yet, you might want to place an order for some twist-free content elsewhere at CinemaBlend. Just don’t go to Jimmy Pesto’s.
Transferring a TV series into an upcoming movie is harder than it seems. No matter the premise of your show, the divide between screens small and big leaves a lot of room to lose some of the finer details of what works. The Bob’s Burgers Movie is the latest property trying to make such a thing work, and the result is a medium rare example of TV adaptations done right. Just as much as the critics seem to love Bob’s Burgers jump onto the big screen, I agree with that assessment as a fan myself.
We’re obviously going to be diving into spoilers for this cinematic romp in the world of Bob’s Burgers. If you want to learn more about the movie without being served a piping hot “Swiss-t Ending” burger, you should head elsewhere. Our official review of The Bob’s Burgers Movie is a good place to start, but don’t forget to come back once you’ve experienced the cinematic exploits of the Belchers. With that in mind, here’s why Bob and the family made for such a fantastic experience at the movies.
The Bob’s Burgers Movie Doesn’t Bite Off More Than It Can Chew
Amping up a series like co-director Loren Bouchard’s Bob’s Burgers into a cinematic experience presents a lot of opportunities. TV adaptations of the past have proven that point to varying degrees of success, with the common denominator being to cautiously up the ante. The Bob’s Burgers Movie gets it right from square one, as the story involving a murder mystery, some shady dealings at Wonder Wharf and personal financial pressure all feel at home in the universe at play.
What’s more, there’s a perfectly good excuse for leaving the burger shop that Bob’s Burgers calls its home. Through a gag that’s been set up throughout the entire season, a sinkhole has opened up and cut off access to the store. As the kids try to solve a murder, Bob (H. Jon Benjamin), Linda (John Roberts) and Teddy (Larry Murphy) get into the food cart business; which changes the scenery, but still stays in the charming wheelhouse of the series.
Last, but not least, The Bob’s Burgers Movie only introduces a handful of new songs, when it could have gone totally overboard with a new book of tunes. There may only be four new songs added to this already legendary repertoire of itty bitty ditties, but each one is as memorable and catchy as something you’d hear on the previous compilations from the current 12-season buffet.
A Slick Animation Upgrade Doesn’t Take Away From That Bob’s Burgers Charm
Just as the temptation to overblow one’s plot is present, there’s also the dreaded “upgrades” an animated movie can make to the world you’re used to seeing. The potential for a more cutting-edge approach to a film like The Bob’s Burgers Movie is always tempting, as added bells and whistles can be thrown in to Johnny Jazz Hands things up.
The downside to snazzing out your animated movie’s style is that when compared to past or future episodes, it can cause your film to stick out a bit. When it comes to the cinematic sheen of this animation and the traditional Bob’s Burgers art style, there’s no awkward gaps between the two products. So when Hulu subscribers binge the series in the future and hit the part where it’s time to watch The Bob’s Burgers Movie, you’re not going to feel weird jumping back and forth between the two.
The Plot Really Is A Properly Extended Bob’s Burgers Episode
I’ve refrained from making a large, but important comparison so far, and it’s how The Bob’s Burgers Movie stacks up compared to The Simpsons Movie. Now that we’ve gotten to the subject of plot, I can’t hold back, because when it came time to expand Matt Groening’s world into a major motion picture, all the stops were pulled out. Bob’s Burgers didn’t get that treatment, and honestly, it would have felt weird if it did.
Yes, we’re supposed to be watching something more “cinematic,” and anything from a family vacation to a trip to the Moon could have happened. Instead, we were treated to extended intrigue with the Fischoeder family, visiting parts of Wonder Wharf we didn’t know existed in the current universe. Bob’s Burgers tends to be a bit more dramatic and extra on a normal day, so all that really had to happen when crossing the TV/movie divide was to add some more weight to a typical story.
There’s No Stunt Casting Involved In The Bob’s Burgers Movie
While we’re on the subject of The Simpsons and its enjoyable theatrical movie, the subject of stunt casting is something that any animation fan can relate to. As it so happens, the legendary decades-long Fox series stunt casts voice actors on the regular, which means that when Tom Hanks showed up in The Simpsons Movie, it made sense.
Again, “major motion picture” seems to be the key phrase that leads not only to story bloat, but also casting big named actors to draw more butts into seats. The Bob’s Burgers Movie does not do this at all. Rather, it draws from the already impressive roster of guest voices it has built organically throughout the lifespan of the series, and uses the right story to do so.
The murder mystery angle involving Calvin (Kevin Kline) and Felix (Zach Galifinakis) Fischoeder alone brings those two stars into the fold. With Gary Cole, Sarah and Laura Silverman, Paul Rudd and Jordan Peele all easily slotting in too thanks to previous guest spots, Bob's Burgers doesn't need to go too far with its acting roster to impress.
Plenty Of Fan Favorite Cameos Are Present, But Not To A Distracting Degree
Drawing from that talented well of past guests in its universe also allowed writers Loren Bouchard and Nora Smith to include quite a few fan-favorite Bob’s Burgers characters I’d hoped to see in the movie as organic cameos. Just as The Bob’s Burgers Movie didn’t go to any massive trouble to upgrade its style, story or voice talents, a lot of people you’d hope to see in a spectacle such as this pop up here and there.
The best example of how this is used in play is when health inspector Hugo (Sam Seder) and his reluctant lackey Ron (Ron Lynch) look like they’re going to bust the whole food cart operation. Seeing as it isn’t licensed, this could have given The Bob’s Burgers Movie a larger-than-life confrontation between Bob and his memorable nemesis.
Instead, the moment is used as a misdirect for some comedic tension, and then leads into the more exciting story of the Belchers and Teddy facing off against some irate carnies at Wonder Wharf. Familiar faces and voices are present, but only when and where the occasion fits; even if it's in a slight appearance dancing in the credits.
One Scene In Particular Reminds Us Of Why We Love The Belchers
If there’s one moment I would point to as the crown jewel of just why The Bob’s Burgers Movie works so damned well, it’s the scene where the Belchers look like they’re going to die. With Louise (Kristen Schaal) feeling insecure over her dependence on her bunny ears, this moment of crisis leads her to blame herself for putting the family in danger. One heartfelt explanation, and some quick thinking, lead to the ultimate resolution to this perilous situation.
In a “major motion picture,” this could have been a sappy departure from style in the name of heightening the emotions of the moment. With Bob’s Burgers, this scene already fits perfectly as a tension filled situation that’s a little more severe than a normal episode, but with stakes that are very much at home. The Belchers have always loved each other while busting each other’s chops. All The Bob’s Burgers Movie did was change the setting and place this moment at the end of a thrilling go-kart chase/attempted murder.
Whether you’re a die-hard fan of Bob’s Burgers or you’re a newcomer who wants to sample the menu with the joy and thrills The Bob’s Burgers Movie offers, this is absolutely a movie worth seeing in the theaters. It’s not a cynical exercise that builds some intricately extended lore, or introduces new characters to expand merchandising. Rather, it does what the family at its heart has always done: it makes a damned good burger, and all it asks is that people take time out to sit and enjoy it.
Thought it’s not above putting Linda in a “sexy burger” costume to draw some eyes, because as we saw in the trailers, Bob’s Burgers can get quite unhinged. Should you be drawn to The Bob’s Burgers Movie, it’s currently showing in theaters, just in time for the start of summer. If you’re a fan who’s just finished the most recent season of the series on Fox or Hulu, then it’s even more exciting to jump right into the movie as a pleasant reward.
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