People are kind of stupid. They’re also smelly, anxious, stubborn, and unpleasant. It’s something we learn at an early age, that other human beings are packed full of everything we’d like to hide about ourselves. We’ve all been to the slumber party where one of the other kids lets a big one rip, followed by a moment of silence and an appalling scent filling the air. By all accounts, this should be the end of that child’s social life. Expelled for unrepentant nastiness. Yet, this is almost never the case. Instead, in the seconds following a loud fart, most of us do the unthinkable. We laugh. We laugh because we know deep down that we’re just as gross and silly as our friend who might need to change their pants, and, most importantly, we know that’s okay.
The Bob’s Burgers Movie succeeds because it engrains this knowledge into every crevice it has to offer. Loren Bouchard and Bernard Derriman weave a tapestry that, despite being made of comedy, comes together to create a beautiful image about family and all of its flaws. Don’t get me or my fancy wording wrong, the movie is still very much what you’d expect it to be. It has all the trappings of a typical Bob’s Burgers episode, right down to the daily special displayed on Bob’s chalkboard and the ever-changing business next door. There are goofy musical numbers, blink-and-you’ll-miss-them one-liners, visual gags, and all the familiar guest stars. However, the thing that truly helps the film soar is the major, aforementioned core trait that’s carried over from the series to the big screen – the lovable dysfunctionality of the Belcher family.
A lot of the story’s action takes place outside of the show’s normal environment, so the movie relies heavily on the group dynamics of everyone’s favorite burger-flipping brood. The story concerns a giant sinkhole opening in front of the Bob’s Burgers restaurant, preventing access to customers and threatening to close the joint for good. Bob and Linda form their own plan to raise money with the help of loyal patron Teddy, while the kids take a dramatically different path and try to solve a murder Louise is convinced will solve all their problems. Impressively, both plots work in equal measure, and the movie manages to organically sow them together in the kind of hilariously chaotic style only Bob’s Burgers could pull off. Every moment with more than one Belcher on-screen was guaranteed pleasure.
There’s a lot of humor from the jump in this film, and the jokes come at a relentless pace. Surprisingly, almost all of them land. There were several moments where I found myself cackling in the theater, something I haven’t done at a comedy showing in years. It’s often difficult in comedy to maintain that high of a joke rate without tiring the audience out. Sometimes, even if the comedy is well done, the schtick gets old by the time the credits begin to roll. Jackass Forever, for example, is a brilliant slapstick piece that almost became too much to laugh at as it crossed the finish line. Well done and actively funny, but most of my screening stopped laughing out loud about an hour in from fatigue. Conversely, The Bob’s Burgers Movie had everyone in their seats until the post-credits scene made us burst into laughter a final time.
It took me a while to figure out how this worked, but I think I finally came to a conclusion. As stated previously, the best kind of humor is typically rooted in truth. We can’t help but be amused by other people doing and saying stupid things, because really, we know we’re entirely capable of being just as dumb. Bob’s Burgers rattles off an endless stream of material, all of it based in characters being brainless, and more than once, I caught myself thinking “that feels like something I would do”, or, “that reminds me of [insert friend here]”. Because of this, I was completely engrossed the whole time, and let out an audible chuckle for every fart joke and nonsensical sentence the Belchers and friends emitted throughout.
Finally, to bring it all home, are the last few words from that opening paragraph. Bob’s Burgers never forgets that, no matter how empty-headed its protagonists can be, it’s all okay as long as they still love each other at the end of the day. This is a movie about embracing your weirdness and being comfortable in it because with any luck, you have other weird people around you to accept it. Even the overly-rich, eccentric landlord has an overly-rich, eccentric brother to understand him. The Bob’s Burgers Movie delights in cherishing stupidity, and the people who’ve allowed it to endure for millennia. Sometimes that’s enough to warm your heart, and it’s definitely enough to justify a trip to the movies.