Of the three dysfunctional-family animated sitcoms on the Fox Network, “Bob’s Burgers” is arguably the gentlest and the sunniest. Created by Loren Bouchard, who was also behind Adult Swim’s late 1990s cult hit “Home Movies,” “Burgers,” which premiered in 2011, eschews the acerbic satirical thrust of “The Simpsons” and the callousness of “The Family Guy.”
The saga of Bob and Linda Belcher and their three kids, Gene, Tina and Louise, is also relatively grounded in reality. Bob is a quintessential striver who runs what aspires to be a tasty and innovative burger joint. Linda is his enthusiastic partner and cheerleader, and the kids are distinctive oddballs, each messy in their own way. The show’s humor is absurd, cheerfully vulgar and always in line with the loony, outlandish stories it tells. And the stories always dominate — the show doesn’t go in for incessant pop culture references or much fourth-wall breaking.
The mode of “Bob’s Burgers” doesn’t exactly scream for a feature-length, big-screen expansion, so it’s surprising that “The Bob’s Burgers Movie,” directed by Bouchard and Bernard Derriman, is such a breezy, engaging picture that it qualifies as a summer refreshment.
The picture opens with Bob preparing a special burger for his bank’s loan officer — the one he’s going to ask for an extension. He and Tina are certain they’ll get it — and the family bursts into song, anticipating “the sunny side up summer of our lives.” (The special burger has a fried egg on it.) The kids have goals, too — Gene is hoping for his band, the Itty Bitty Ditty Committee (the name is a prime example of the kind of wordplay this movie favors) to make a splash, Tina seeks a summer boyfriend and Louise wants nothing more than to be left alone.
The plot thickens as all the characters are — of course — denied their wishes. To make matters worse, a giant sinkhole opens in front of the restaurant and kicks off a murder mystery. One visitor to the scene of the uncovered crime is a detective who’s not only not on the case, but not even in the department handling the case. “Sometimes homicide begs for help from us robbery guys,” he insists.
The movie is replete with equally dry one-liners, expertly delivered by a voice cast led by series regulars H. Jon Benjamin, John Roberts, Dan Mintz, Eugene Mirman and Kristen Schaal. (Series semiregulars chipping in here include Kevin Kline and Zach Galifianakis.) It’s also heavy on scatological jokes, delivered with watch-setting regularity. Even if that’s not your favorite form of humor, it suits the quirky and oft-irritable Belchers, who are capable of low-key squabbling even while being buried alive.
The Bob’s Burgers Movie
Rated PG-13, possibly for poop jokes. Running time: 1 hour 42 minutes. In theaters.