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Review: 'The Bob's Burgers Movie' feels a little undercooked as animated series jumps to big screen

Mark Meszoros, The News-Herald (Willoughby, Ohio) on

Published in Entertainment News

We’re going to tip-toe way out on a limb here: The folks who will most enjoy “The Bob’s Burgers Movie” are the longtime fans of the TV series that has spawned it, “Bob’s Burgers.”

And there must be more of them than we’d realized, what with the Loren Bouchard-created animated comedy series remaining on the air since its debut on Fox in January 2011. (Honestly, as we’ve gravitated toward a heavy diet of streaming fare, we’re not sure we even knew it was still going.)

The offbeat show about a family-run burger joint is not without its charms, of course. It’s built around the appealing if odd Belcher family led by Bob (voiced by H. Jon Benjamin) and his upbeat wife, Linda (John Roberts). It is rounded out by three children: boy-crazy Tina (Dan Mintz), affable Gene (Eugene Mirman) and precocious Louise (Kristen Schaal).

And yet the appeal would not seem to be broad enough for “Bob’s Burgers” to produce a big-screen affair — and watching said affair serves only to reinforce that idea.

“The Bob’s Burgers Movie” is, at times, cute and clever. Overall, though, this mash-up of a murder mystery and a musical comedy — co-directed by Bouchard and Bernard Derriman and co-written by Bouchard and Nora Smith — isn’t all that engaging.

It begins six years in the past, with the murder of a carnival worker at the wharf down the street from Bob’s Burgers. The skeleton of Cotton Candy Dan is discovered in a giant sinkhole that forms in front of the restaurant due to a water main rupturing.

 

“It’s that the guy who sold corn dogs?” Linda asks about Cotton Candy Dan, one of the movie’s lines that should be laugh-out-loud material but doesn’t quite land with the desired force.

The more immediate concern of the Belchers is the pending bank-loan payment they can’t afford even before a giant chasm forms in the street just beyond the entrance to their business. After the hole appears, the Belchers are faced with the prospect of the bank repossessing their restaurant equipment and not being able to pay landlord Calvin Fischoeder (Kevin Kline) the next month’s rent.

Other regular show guest stars voicing their characters include Gary Cole, as Sergeant Bosco; Larry Murphy, as restaurant frequenter Teddy; and Zach Galifianakis, as Felix Fischoeder, brother of Calvin.

The movie’s greatest asset is the often-deadpanned Benjamin, who’s been giving life to memorable animated characters since late-1990s/early-2000s “Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist” and “Home Movies,” two enjoyable series on which Bouchard worked. (And while Benjamin is good here, if you want to hear him at his best, check out the first several seasons of FX’s “Archer,” on which he voices sex-crazed, alcohol-loving super-spy Sterling Archer. Just fantastic stuff.)

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