‘The Bob’s Burgers Movie’ is Here to Ask: How Can You Possibly Resist Seeing the Belcher Clan on the Big Screen?

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The Bob’s Burgers Movie (CREDIT:
20th Century Studios/Screenshot)

Starring: H. Jon Benjamin, John Roberts, Dan Mintz, Eugene Mirman, Kristen Schaal, Larry Murphy, Kevin Kline, Zach Galifianakis, David Wain, Gary Cole, Sam Seder, Aziz Ansari, David Herman, Brian Huskey, Jenny Slate, Ron Lynch, Stephanie Beatriz, Nicole Byer

Directors: Loren Bouchard and Bernard Derriman

Running Time: 102 Minutes

Rating: PG-13 for Some Surprisingly Scary Situations

Release Date: May 27, 2022 (Theaters)

Has it really been 12 seasons and over 200 episodes of Bob’s Burgers already? It somehow still occupies that “New Show” headspace in the Media Consumption Lobe of my brain, and yet an entire generation has now been raised by the Belcher crew. However long it’s lasted, this delightfully quirky animated Fox standby remains a reliable AND exciting part of my viewing routine. It’s a perfect way to spend a half hour on a Sunday evening (or the next Monday morning, or sometime later in the week when Peak TV obligations are really piling up). Just as middle child Tina still goes crazy over butts after all these years, so too am I eternally jazzed about the prospect of a big screen Belcher adventure as if it were the first time I were ever going to the theater. As long as it stays true to its underdog self, then I and legions of other loyal fans will be satisfied.

What’s profoundly striking about The Bob’s Burgers Movie is how much it doesn’t differ from a typical episode, beyond the stretched-out running time. Yes, the screen is a little wider, and the animation is a little more high-definition. But there’s no big-name stunt cameos or any trips across the universe. Instead, the whole thing is confined to a few of the typical locations in the same old anonymous East Coast beach town with the regular voice cast doing what they’ve always done.

What is different is that the stakes are a little higher. The family restaurant is the closest it’s ever been to bankruptcy, Tina’s ready to ask longtime crush Jimmy Pesto Jr. if he’ll be her summer boyfriend, the danger at hand is legitimately life-threatening, and there are some wonderfully go-for-broke musical numbers. But once again, these are motifs that have already come up multiple times on the show, so it’s only mild heightening. True, it’s not every day that a giant sinkhole opens up in front of Bob’s Burgers and makes it basically impossible for customers to enter. Nor is it every day that skeletal remains are found in front of the restaurant, and in a giant sinkhole no less. And that is what happens in the movie, as it sets off a juvenile murder investigation and some renegade burger cart hawking on the boardwalk. To the uninitiated, that might indeed sound like something wonderfully out-of-the-ordinary. But this is an adaptation of a show that just pulled off an ambitious Blade Runner homage in its most recent season finale. I’m not complaining about this familiarity; instead, I’m happily listing all the ways that The Bob’s Burgers Movie feels like home.

So, the first big-screen adventure of one of my favorite animated families is far from mind-blowing, but as I walked out of the theater, I had this thought: wouldn’t it be lovely if this became a new annual tradition? On the weekend after the latest season finale, we always get a new Bob’s Burgers movie. We spend most of the year getting our patty-bun-and-topping fill at home, and then we commune with our fellow burgerholics out in the wild, and maybe introduce a few new friends and family to the routine each time. Isn’t that a world you’d like to live in? Isn’t that a world you’d like your children to live in? We’ve already had so many Burgers of the Day, now it’s time for the Burgers of the Year.

The Bob’s Burgers Movie is Recommended If You Like: Food Puns and Thick Buns

Grade: 3.5 out of 5 Burgers of the Day

‘Bill & Ted Face the Music’ and They Also Face the Weight of Years’ Worth of Anticipation

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Bill & Ted Face the Music (CREDIT: Orion Pictures)

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, Brigette Lundy-Paine, Samara Weaving, Erinn Hayes, Jayma Mays, Kristen Schaal, Holland Taylor, Anthony Carrigan, William Sadler, Hal Landon Jr., Beck Bennett, Kid Cudi, Jillian Bell

Director: Dean Parisot

Running Time: 88 Minutes

Rating: PG-13 for “Some Language,” Apparently

Release Date: August 28, 2020 (Theaters and On Demand)

Bill & Ted Face the Music is about the crushing expectations of destiny. It’s kind of like the Bhagavad Gita in that way. From a gnarlier perspective, it’s also about how time travel doesn’t make any sense, and won’t ever make sense, but that’s okay, because we can still be excellent to each other.

When we first met the Wyld Stallyns during their first excellent time-hopping adventure thirty years ago, we learned that their music would serve as the inspiration for a utopian society several centuries into the future. And now it’s finally time for them to answer that call. If they don’t, the time-space continuum will totally be ripped apart! But in 2020, the biggest live music gig that Bill (Alex Winter) and Ted (Alex Winter) can get is the wedding of Ted’s younger brother to Bill’s former stepmom. How then can they possibly live up to what Fate has asked of them? How could anybody, really? The premise worked well enough in Excellent Adventure, as it remained theoretical and fantastical, but now disappointment feels inevitable.

But fortunately Face the Music isn’t really about the promise of that world-saving composition. Rather, it is about the shenanigans that lead up to that point, naturally enough. Facing a profound case of writer’s block and a terrifying time limit of only 78 minutes, Bill and Ted figure they might as well visit their future selves and steal the song they will have already written by that point. But that proves to be fruitless no matter how far in the future they go, which begs the question: are they only able to travel into a possible future in which they’re not successful? But how could that be if they’re able to visit the utopian far future when they will have necessarily been successful? And why is there a time limit anyway? If they fail, can’t they just get in the phone booth and go back far enough in the past to start over? The stern visage of Holland Taylor (who plays the future’s Great Leader) assures us otherwise.

There’s a sanded-down quality to Face the Music that can happen when you try to resurrect old beloved characters. Bill and Ted are still plenty charming, but they’re far from as dopey as they were when they were teenagers, even though they still talk in the same surfer bro SoCal cadence. Meanwhile, there’s a trickier sort of alchemy attempted with their daughters (Brigette Lundy-Paine and Samara Weaving), who are basically gender-flipped carbon copies of their dads but they’re also actually geniuses, at least when it comes to music theory, history, and composition.

Face the Music struggles to get a handle on how ridiculous the Wyld Stallyns and their loved ones and collaborators are supposed to be. They do live in a ridiculous reality after all, as they must contend with a depression-prone killer robot (Anthony Carrigan) and a Grim Reaper (William Sadler returning from Bogus Journey) who mopes about not being allowed to deliver 40-minute bass solos. That’s often the trouble with returning to a kooky world. The base level of kookiness is already so high that any new bit of kookiness just feels like chaos. There’s a nice degree of heart here that sometimes shines through in the cacophony, but there’s nothing quite as sublime as “Bob Genghis Khan.”

Bill & Ted Face the Music is Recommended If You Like: Midlife crises, Millennia-spanning supergroups, Just-go-with-it time travel

Grade: 3 out of 5 Princess Wives