Warning! SPOILERS for The Bob’s Burgers Movie.
The Bob’s Burgers Movie is finally out, and one question that comes to mind is whether or not it was able to surpass The Simpsons Movie. Overall, aside from their shared 2D-animated genre, both movies couldn’t be more different from one another, so there ends up being only so much that can be compared between the two of them. The comparisons that can be drawn, however, do highlight their respective strengths and weaknesses, allowing one to reasonably conclude which is the stronger film.
15 years after the release of The Simpsons Movie, Bob’s Burgers is now the second of Fox’s animated sitcoms to have a feature film production. While the quality of Fox’s The Simpsons has been up for debate for years now, dating back to when the movie was made, the fact that it was able to get a movie at all is a clear testament to the popularity and cultural relevance The Simpsons was able to secure for itself. With that in mind, the fact that The Bob’s Burgers Movie even exists can be seen as a statement of Bob’s Burgers approaching a similar level of relevancy, if it hasn’t already achieved it over the years.
The Bob’s Burgers Movie and The Simpsons Movie were both big achievements in their own rights, but which one was the better movie? Both The Bob’s Burgers Movie and The Simpsons Movie differ greatly in terms of plot and overall tone, but there are still comparisons that can be drawn for fields such as animation and how they service the shows they’re based on. Regardless of which is determined the better here, both are still worth watching.
The Bob’s Burgers Movie Has More New Elements Than The Simpsons Movie
Both The Bob’s Burgers Movie and The Simpsons Movie can be seen as extra-long episodes of their respective shows. For The Bob’s Burgers Movie, there’s the basic plot of Bob and the kids each dealing with problems that end up intersecting at some point, and for The Simpsons Movie, there’s the basic plot of Homer’s selfishness causing problems for his family and the entire town of Springfield that he ends up having to fix. They’re both stories that happen in typical episodes of the shows, but what gives The Bob’s Burgers Movie an edge over The Simpsons Movie is how The Bob’s Burgers Movie is a musical.
While many episodes of Bob’s Burgers feature singing, outside of the occasional special episode, it’s usually either a voiceover or a random song a character sung for a few seconds that would be extended in the end credits. The Bob’s Burgers Movie takes that even further by not only having more songs than in a typical episode but by having them accompanied with choreography and visuals befitting a musical. It all works to add a lot to The Bob’s Burgers Movie and truly sell it as being bigger than a regular episode, which was something The Simpsons Movie often failed to do outside of just making everything bigger in scale.
Bob’s Burgers Movie vs Simpsons Movie: Which Better Serves Show Fans
Both movies have many jokes and references to their shows, but The Bob’s Burgers Movie works better for doing a better job of tying into its show. While The Simpsons Movie had anyone who wasn’t the Simpsons or an original character relegated to a cameo, The Bob’s Burgers Movie involves many characters beyond just the Belchers in roles of varying importance such as Teddy, Sergeant Bosco, and the Fischoeders, so there’s a better chance of someone getting to see their favorite character contribute to the plot. The Bob’s Burgers Movie also works better than The Simpsons Movie when it comes to expanding on the story and characters by doing things like giving Tina a win with Jimmy Jr., revealing the history of Louise’s ears, and tying said history into a heartfelt story about Bob’s seldom-referenced mom. All of it provides much more payoff to its original show than The Simpsons Movie did, where the biggest payoff to the original show it had was Homer and Bart finally jumping Springfield Gorge.
Bob’s Burgers Movie vs. Simpsons Movie: Which Has Better Animation
The Bob’s Burgers Movie and The Simpsons Movie both have animation that’s far above the largely stiff animation their shows usually put out. Even so, The Bob’s Burgers Movie still ends up having the better animation. As previously discussed, the dance scenes for the musical numbers all feature great choreography and animation, but even beyond that, there’s a greater degree of fluidity to all of the animation; the characters all have a bounciness to their movements, and scenes like Louise finding Cotton Candy Dan and Grover Fischoeder chasing the Belchers are particularly filled with great animation. Not only that but there’s a wide variety of creative transitions and camera angles used in the movie to add a level of flare that goes above and beyond what the show usually does.
By comparison, David Silverman’s The Simpsons Movie doesn’t do as much as it could. While the animation as a whole is a step above the show, there are still many moments where the characters move very stiffly, and there are only a few moments in the movie with animation that comes off as particularly great, such as Bart skating through town naked and the Disney parody scene. There are also various moments of distractingly bad CGI that haven’t aged well, most notably when the Simpsons’ house is being sucked into the sinkhole, which also creates a contrast to The Bob’s Burgers Movie using CGI much more sparingly and doing a better job of making it blend with 2D, just like in the Bob’s Burgers cartoon. Granted, the technology used to animate The Bob’s Burgers Movie has drastically improved over what was available for The Simpsons Movie, but this nonetheless still elevates Bob’s Burgers over The Simpsons Movie.
Bob’s Burgers Movie vs. Simpsons Movie: Which Has The Better Story
For any movie, what should ultimately be the most important thing is the story, and The Bob’s Burgers Movie beats The Simpsons Movie on that front as well. The Bob’s Burgers Movie revolves around the kids trying to solve a murder mystery Mr. Fischoeder’s been framed for in the hopes that they’ll be able to get him to help Bob with a loan payment to save the restaurant, while The Simpsons Movie has the Simpsons family being chased out of Springfield after Homer pollutes Lake Springfield to the point where Springfield has to be sealed inside of a dome, only to return to prevent the EPA from blowing it up. The Simpsons Movie is much larger in scale, but it ends up feeling smaller because the Simpsons are the only characters from the show involved in the plot, whereas The Bob’s Burgers Movie involves characters beyond the Belchers. What’s also not helping The Simpsons Movie is that the Simpsons are mostly reactionary protagonists, whereas the Belchers all go out of their way to move their stories along.
The Bob’s Burgers Movie also structures its story better than The Simpsons Movie. Befitting the murder mystery theme, everything in The Bob’s Burgers Movie is mostly tight and gives good reasons for why the story needs to progress the way it does. On the other hand, The Simpsons Movie relies solely on everyone being too stupid to make any actual attempt at getting out of the dome besides trying to break it. Years after the movie’s release, an episode of The Simpsons would even acknowledge that they could have dug under the dome in hindsight. There’s also how all of the Belchers get some sort of resolution to their character arcs in the movie, while the Simpsons get very little. Lisa, for example, kickstarted the plot by getting everyone to care about Lake Springfield, but she has no involvement in the story after they’re trapped in the dome. While the rest of the family does get closure to their stories, that ends up running into another issue: continuity.
Both Fox’s Bob’s Burgers and The Simpsons are largely episodic shows, but between the two of them, Bob’s Burgers makes more of an effort to have ongoing continuity and character development. Because of that, The Bob’s Burgers Movie doing things like giving Tina and Jimmy Jr. a summer fling, letting Gene perform on a big stage, and giving Louise and Bob a lesson in bravery and Lousie a new connection to her ears are all things that can feed into the show, if only slightly. The Simpsons, on the other hand, has been criticized for years for getting into a rut of repetitive storylines that refuse to let the characters grow. This criticism against Matt Groening’s The Simpsons was well-established even before The Simpsons Movie came out, and it makes the movie harder to tolerate because there’s a bit of pointlessness to the whole thing. No matter how optimistic The Simpsons Movie tries to make its ending, anyone who watched it wouldn’t be wrong to assume that Homer would go back to being a selfish jerk who could easily push his family away, Bart would go back to having no respect for him, Lisa would go back to having no one other than Milhouse who loves her, and Marge would go back to barely being able to justify why she stays with Homer, and, sure enough, episodes with those plot points have been incredibly common in the 15 years following The Simpsons Movie.
Why The Bob’s Burgers Movie Is Better Than The Simpsons Movie
Between The Bob’s Burgers Movie and The Simpsons Movie, The Bob’s Burgers Movie is ultimately the better movie. 2007’s The Simpsons Movie has plenty of laughs and ups the scale of the show a great deal, so it’s hardly a bad movie. However, The Bob’s Burgers Movie does a better job of making itself feel like more than just an extra-long episode thanks to the musical element, including having stellar animation to go along with it. It also does a better job of providing fanservice and connecting to the original show, and its tighter story works better at giving the characters genuine payoffs for their arcs that aren’t undermined by a sense of repetitive pointlessness, as found in The Simpsons. The Simpsons Movie was an incredible feat at the time of its release, but it’s clear that 2022’s The Bob’s Burgers Movie has managed to greatly improve on everything it was trying to do.
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