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

1 Comment

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

I Went to See ‘Encanto,’ and Well, Here’s What Happened

Leave a comment

Encanto (CREDIT:
Walt Disney Animation Studios/Screenshot)

Starring: Stephanie Beatriz, John Leguizamo, María Cecilia Botero, Diane Guerrero, Jessica Darrow, Angie Cepeda, Wilmer Valderrama, Carolina Gaitán

Directors: Jared Bush and Byron Howard

Running Time: 109 Minutes

Rating: PG

Release Date: November 24, 2021

When I went to see Encanto, I was all ready to stay awake and enjoy a movie, but then … I started nodding off. And it kept happening throughout most of the movie! (This is becoming a bit of a pattern for me when it comes to animated Thanksgiving Disney releases.) I thought I would be able to make it all the way through just fine! The showtime wasn’t that late, and it wasn’t a particularly tiring day! But movie theaters just always make me sleepy now that I’m the age that I am. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t fully unconscious for any prolonged stretches, but it still felt like I missed something, although my viewing companion assured me that I got the gist. I wish I had more to say about the actual content, but my drive for shuteye was undeniably the biggest force of this cinematic experience. Oh, well. I hope Stephanie Beatriz shows up in more movies soon enough.

Grade: Tres Maribels out of Cinco Madrigals

‘In the Heights’ Review: Washington Heights is So Hot Right Now

1 Comment

In the Heights (CREDIT: Warner Bros. Pictures/YouTube Screenshot)

Starring: Anthony Ramos, Melissa Barrera, Corey Hawkins, Leslie Grace, Olga Merediz, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Jimmy Smits, Gregory Diaz IV, Stephanie Beatriz, Dascha Polanco, Noah Catala, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Marc Anthony, Christopher Jackson

Director: Jon M. Chu

Running Time: 143 Minutes

Rating: PG-13 for Young Adults and Older Adults Dealing with Adult Stuff

Release Date: June 10, 2021 (Theaters and HBO Max)

How could anyone possibly sing and dance on the streets of Manhattan as the temps creep up into the high 90s? This is the conundrum that In the Heights forces us to face. Sure, it’s a musical, and its attendant heightened reality isn’t meant to represent literal truth. But the vibe of this movie-based-on-a-Broadway-show is very much “This is what life is really like in the neighborhood of Washington Heights.” So how to explain it? Well, the heat can make people do some pretty irrational things. And you can get away with a few bouts of illogic here and there if you’re generally focused on friends and family.

So just who are these Washington Heights-ians in the midst of a heat wave and looming blackout in this movie musical based on the stage musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Quiara Alegría Hudes (the latter of whom also wrote the screenplay)? First off, there’s Usnavi (Anthony Ramos), Navi for short, a young bodega owner who’s looking to buy himself a plot of land in the Dominican Republic. Then there’s his teenage cousin Sonny (Gregoy Diaz IV), who could really use some documentation to firm up his immigration status. Also hanging around the bodega is his good buddy Benny (Corey Hawkins), who really ought to make things right with Nina (Leslie Grace), who’s buckling under the pressure of being the first one in her family to make it to college. Most of that pressure is coming from her kind-of pushy dad Kevin (Jimmy Smits), who never met a financial pickle he wouldn’t crunch his way out of. And then strolling right through is Vanessa (Melissa Berrera), who’s keen on starting a fashion design career while also making sure that Navi isn’t too much of a dingus for the two of them to consummate their obvious feelings for each other. Finally, looking over it all with grace and a steady heart is Navi’s abuela Claudia (Olga Merediz). And I cannot fail to mention that LMM is also present on screen as the local shaved ice cart pusher who has an only-in-New York rivalry with the neighborhood Mr. Softee ice cream truck driver (fellow Hamilton alum Christopher Jackson).

This story all plays out via the framing device of Navi telling the tale to a quartet of kids on the beach several years later. And that’s obviously the right sort of vibe. The older generation tells the younger generation stories of their families that happened before they were born so that they know where they came from. And I love to see it, because I am just innately fulfilled by keeping track of how people are related to each other and who’s friends with whom. In the Heights doesn’t need to have song-and-dance numbers to pull off that energy, but because it is a musical, I know that these characters’ familial, romantic, and platonic emotions are indeed larger than life.

Remember at the beginning of this review when I mentioned how senseless it is to be moving your body in the midst of the mucky Manhattan heat? Let me clarify: I’m not mad at In the Heights for that. Sometimes it makes sense to be senseless, especially when you’re in a city that’s not exactly designed to offer relief for that rising mercury AND you’re in the midst of a days-long massive power outage. Hopefully in this situation, you have enough brain cells to take care of what you need to take care of, and the thrill of In the Heights is making sure that these characters maintain the minimum number of brain cells. (Barest of Spoiler Alerts: They do.)

In the Heights is Recommended If You Like: Hamilton, Step Up 3D, Family reunions

Grade: 3.5 out of 5 Lottery Tickets

Movie Review: ‘The Lego Movie 2’ Has Some More Valuable Lessons to Teach Us With Bright Colors and Peppy Songs

Leave a comment

CREDIT: Warner Bros.

Starring: Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Tiffany Haddish, Stephanie Beatriz, Charlie Day, Alison Brie, Nick Offerman

Director: Mike Mitchell

Running Time: 107 Minutes

Rating: PG for Traumatizing Lego Destruction

Release Date: February 8, 2019

Where does a sequel go after the original makes such a definitive statement? This is the conundrum facing The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part. (That subtitle is infinitely unnecessary, but not indicative of the movie’s humor as a whole, and also this title would have looked rather naked without a subtitle.) 2015’s first part summed up in cinematic form the whole ethos of the iconic Danish building blocks: in a world that often favors rigidity and conformity, you cannot give up on your individuality, because everyone can be and is special. Childlike imagination and wonder are what fueled The Lego Movie to be as successful as it was. Those values will get you pretty far in life. So why do any more statements need to be made?

It turns out that while The Lego Movie offers a philosophy with wide-ranging applicability, it is not quite a grand unified theory that covers absolutely everything. It spoke to the power of a singular creative vision, but The Second Part demonstrates how collaboration is equally vital. Emmet Brickowski (Chris Pratt) and his Lego friends are now living in the wasteland Apocalypseburg, because in the human world that is controlling them, a little sister has invaded the playspace of her big brother. So Emmet, Lucy (Elizabeth Banks), Batman (Will Arnett), and company head out to broker a peace with some differently designed block-creatures. This leads to permanent bachelor Batman becoming engaged to a sparkly shape-shifter voiced by Tiffany Haddish, while Superman (Channing Tatum) lives happily alongside General Zod in a Stepford-esque perfect suburb.

Sizing up the situation, Emmet believes that his mission is to free his friends from the brainwashing of strangers. But while it may seem that all is not what it seems, it turns out that that particular mystery trope is not being played as straight as you might expect. The Lego Movie taught us to be skeptical about a constantly smiling world insisting that everything is awesome, but it also taught us that awesomeness sometimes really is awesome if it has genuine feeling behind it. The candy-coated invading milieu of The Second Part initially appears to be fundamentally suspicious. But sometimes a bright, peppy outer layer is only covering a bright and rewarding core. Sometimes a catchy song that jams itself right in your head is so buoyant that you’re happy it’s stuck there. Belief in yourself is important, but don’t forget to be open-minded about everyone else.

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part is Recommended If You Like: The Lego Movie and its spin-offs, Playing with your siblings

Grade: 4 out of 5 Catchy Songs