Summer is here, and so are the Belchers. From the small screen to the big screen, The Bob’s Burgers Movie, based on the Fox animated series that has been running for 12 seasons and counting, has been in development for quite a while. However, as a holdover from Disney’s acquisition of the 20th Century Fox library, the Mouse hasn’t put much effort into marketing the project. This apathy is further evidenced by the film’s release date, forced to go head to head with Top Gun: Maverick and that belated sequel’s record breaking $150 Million Memorial Weekend haul. Which means the The Bob’s Burgers Movie, much like the show, will have to settle for cult classic adulation rather than mainstream pop culture moment.

But the Belchers are used to being underdogs, as we find in the movie itself. Opting to put undue pressure on themselves to have a summer to remember, Bob and his eccentric Italian family (wife Linda, children Tina, Gene, and Louise in descending age) each set out to achieve a critical goal over the course of the blistering season. For Tina, it’s to nab her “summer boyfriend” by wooing the lisp-impaired Jimmy Jr. For Louise, she of the instantly identifiable bunny ears she’s worn since she was barely past a toddler’s age, it’s to prove her bravery and maturity to a bunch of judgmental classmates. And Gene, well Gene just wants to support his sisters while making as many stealthy wisecracks as possible.

But it’s the Belcher parents, Bob and Linda, that have the most at stake as they’ve been given only 7 days to pay off a loan from the bank for their fledgling restaurant. Do to some quick thinking, Linda is able to convince their landlord, Mr. Fischoeder, to consider extending their rent payment, thus giving them the opportunity to pay the loan. However, that entire strategy is put at risk when out of nowhere, Fischoeder is accused of murdering some carny years ago, leaving the Belcher kids to wonder if he’s been framed, as his innocence would keep their parents from financial ruin.

That honestly sounds a lot darker than what’s at play here, as anyone familiar with the show knows that Bob’s Burgers secret sauce is taking the very real anxieties of the central characters, but using it as a springboard for zany adventures that illuminate the strange behavior of this family and the wide array of lovable weirdos they come to meet. As the children attempt to solve the movie’s mystery, they dig deep in the rabbit hole of… uh, carny weirdo culture(?) as expressed through musical numbers, yelling matches, and whispers about long-held secrets.

Meanwhile, the restaurant gets hit with calamity when a sinkhole prevents patrons from entering the burger joint, causing Bob and Linda to brainstorm solutions. Leave it to their friend, Teddy (their #1 customer, and sometimes only if we’re being honest) to utilize the nearby carnival as a temporary location for “Bob Burgers” as he brands it. This means both parents and kids are separated for much of the movie, but their stories will eventually converge. But the heart of the story lies in this fact – the Belchers’ ridiculous ability to get themselves into absurd circumstances is the very eccentricity that helps them solve the problem and save themselves. Along the journey, we learn there’s more history and meaning to the quirks that define them. Meaning, what makes them unique isn’t at all coincidence or a hindrance, regardless of whatever perception that may bring them.

Fans of musicals and of mysteries may each find joy in how the film traverses those waters, but the movie is ultimately a joyride with some of the most endearing characters on television in the past decade. It’s amazing how the franchise never wears out the characters’ consistent personality traits – Bob the monotone/self serious, awareness lacking dork. Linda whose exuberance and love for everyone and everything bursts at her seams. Tina consistently pushing the limits of how much we’re willing to see an animated teenager be horny. Gene’s penchant to be a smartass who occasionally drops the R rated punchline. And Louise, the firecracker of the entire family whose no nonsense snark often conflicts with the empathy and insecurity she tries to keep buried beneath the surface. Together, the family works because they are each as unique as they are able to fit together in some impossible familial game of tetris.

Being the show’s big screen debut, the movie is naturally more glossy than the TV show with a few more drop shadows and a lot more 3-D effects. This gives a grander life to the musical numbers, the backdrop of the city, and a thrilling nighttime car chase sequence. There’s also a hilariously unhinged musical solo by the film’s villain, making their crime against music perhaps a bigger offense than their murderous past. But by the end, you don’t get the sense that directors Loren Bouchard and Bernard Derriman are maxing out on what these characters can gift us on the big screen. There’s room to tell more stories and go on greater adventures. In other words, this first feature film isn’t just a great success, but one that hopefully spells the beginning of sequels at some point in the future.

It’s rare that an animated sitcom can keep delivering such strong hits deep into it’s run; even the animated Goat in Springfield had fallen off by season 12. But as long as the Belchers remain resourceful underdogs, whose weird brand of humor is actually a signal of their latent genius abilities, their stories will always remain timeless. We sit down in front of the television to relax, we go to the movies to transport to another world. Bob’s Burgers can provide both, and that’s what makes it a meal worth re-ordering.