[Screen It]


(2022) (voices of H. Jon Benjamin, John Roberts) (PG-13)

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Animated Comedy: A trio of siblings try to solve a murder mystery to help their parents keep their burger joint open.

Bob (voice of H. JON BENJAMIN) and Linda Belcher (voice of JOHN ROBERTS) run a downtown burger joint bearing his name, but they're in dire financial straits as they don't have enough revenue to make their monthly bank loan payment. As a result, they and their kids -- awkward teenager Tina (voice of DAN MINTZ), her younger dorky brother, Gene (voice of EUGENE MIRMAN), and their 9-year-old sister, Louise (voice of KRISTEN SCHAAL) -- could soon end up out on the street.

It doesn't help that their landlord, Calvin Fischoeder (voice of KEVIN KLINE), his bratty brother Felix (voice of ZACH GALIFIANAKIS), and their cousin and family lawyer, Grover (voice of DAVID WAIN), don't look kindly on their request to delay their rent payment. Even so, and with the encouragement of their friend and top customer, Teddy (voice of LARRY MURPHY), they try to boost their sales, only to have a huge sinkhole unexpectedly develop directly in front of their establishment.

Things become more complicated when Louise ends up falling into the hole and discovers the skeletal remains of an amusement park carnie who was murdered years ago. With Calvin ending up as the prime suspect, Louise convinces her siblings that they can't wait on Sgt. Bosco (voice of GARY COLE) to help them, and thus they set out to find the real killer, clear Calvin's name, and thus allow him to help their parents avoid having the bank shut down their burger business.

OUR TAKE: 5.5 out of 10

Back when I was growing up in the 1960s and '70s -- you know, when only three networks existed -- it was fairly easy to watch just about every TV show that aired, what with first-run and summer reruns covering two-thirds of all programming. Nowadays there are simply too many channels, streaming services, and shows for one person to be familiar with, let alone consume.

Thus, there are plenty of shows I must admit I've never, ever watched, even if they've been around for many years. One such program is "Bob's Burgers," an animated offering on Fox that debuted back in early 2011 and has delivered 238 episodes so far.

Yet, I knew nothing about the premise or characters until I found out there was a feature-length film adaptation that I had to review. Which brings us around to that entity, the appropriately titled "The Bob's Burgers Movie."

With no prior exposure to the series, I can't say how closely the film hews to the spirit and tone of the source material, although I've read that the usual suspects are present, the main vocal cast reprises their roles, and the animation seems to be in the same style as the show. That aside, I can only comment on how the offering plays to someone new to this world and those who inhabit it.

As directed by Loren Bouchard and Bernard Derriman from a screenplay the former wrote with Nora Smith, the 100 or so-minute offering has less the feel of a movie and comes off like an elongated episode of a TV show. Of course, there's nothing wrong with that if it works and I imagine it obviously will be far better for fans than newbies who won't get all of the nuances, references, and callbacks.

The story is fairly simple and straightforward. A married couple -- that being the titular figure (voiced by H. Jon Benjamin) and his wife, Linda (John Roberts) -- run a downtown burger joint where even the daily consumption of their goods by their number one customer, Teddy (Larry Murphy), can't generate enough revenue to pay their bank loan.

With just seven days to do so and their landlord, his brother, and their family cousin lawyer (Kevin Kline, Zach Galifianakis, and David Wain respectively) have no sympathy or desire to postpone the monthly rent. To make matters worse, a huge sinkhole develops directly in front of their restaurant.

That's from whence the main plot kicks in as the couple's youngest daughter, Louise (Kristen Schaal), falls in and in "Poltergeist" swimming pool fashion comes face to face with the skeletal remains of a murder victim. Calvin the landlord ends up as the prime suspect, but that doesn't sit right with Louise who then convinces her older siblings -- Tina (Dan Mintz) and Gene (Eugene Mirman) -- to find the real perp, clear Calvin's name and thus maybe, just maybe, save their parents' burger joint.

It all sort of feels like a "Scooby-Doo" episode, but one peppered with occasional musical numbers. Fans of the show might enjoy their droll demeanor and related delivery of those songs, but I didn't particularly find them to be creative enough to rattle around in my head afterward.

All of that said, the offering was enjoyable and easy enough to get up to speed that I never felt lost regarding the whos, whats, and whys. And that "Scooby-Doo" aura certainly had me thinking about having seen that show and all of its contemporaries back in the day to the point that perhaps I should check out some of this film's TV predecessors. Nothing great but entertaining enough, "The Bob's Burgers Movie" rates as a 5.5 out of 10.

Reviewed May 22, 2022 / Posted May 27, 2022

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