After 11 years, Bob’s Burgers is finally making the leap from television series to the big screen with a cinematic animated action-comedy-mystery-musical. Yeah, that’s quite a mouth full of meaty genres to pack into one film.
But it’s something that fans have grown to love about the family who may struggle from time to time but has a ton of fun overcoming the odds one misadventure at a time. And now, we get to see more punny “Burgers of the Day” and bigger musical numbers in The Bob’s Burgers Movie.
The endearing underdog Belcher Family find themselves behind on loan payments, again, and have only seven days to pay it off or they lose their precious burger restaurant. While Bob (H. Jon Benjamin) is pessimistic, his happy-go-lucky optimistic wife (John Roberts) provides the support he needs to meet that financial goal. At the same time, their kids Tina (Dan Mintz), Gene (Eugene Mirman), and Louise (Kristen Schaal) are all preparing for their summer fun. But everything comes to a crashing halt when a giant sink hole opens right in front of their door step. As Bob and Linda struggle to keep their restaurant afloat, the kids set off to solve a murder mystery that could save their restaurant.
The Nerds of Color had a chance to talk to the cast and crew of The Bob’s Burgers Movie at a virtual press conference earlier this week. There, they talked about the legacy of the show, the evolution of the script, Louise’s story, and more.
Of course, one of the biggest challenges that comes with a project like this is adapting a TV show into a full-length feature film. So co-writer Nora Smith had to strike a balance between making the fans happy with those who may not have watched the show. “Well, we knew that we had to try to make our fans happy and make people who are not our fans, but are perfectly fine people as well, happy,” she said. “So we’re trying to not make it to just chock full inside references. And we want people to come at fresh and still enjoy all the characters. And I think we did a good job.”
“We always say every episode we do, we would we would love to make it look like the movie. But it’s the problem is we do 22 episodes a year to 11 hours of Bob’s Burgers,” director Bernard Derriman said. “So we’ve only got a few weeks at a time where we just we can focus on each episode. So it wasn’t it wasn’t actually that big a stretch on the movie. It’s just we had four years for for an hour and a half so and it was all the stuff we’ve always wanted to do on the show we’re able to do now in the movie.”
But the process of making a movie and a TV show simultaneously proved to be more a challenge than the creative team expected. “So easy,” Smith joked. “It was hard. When Loren first was like, ‘So I think we’re gonna do a movie.’ I was like, ‘No, we can’t. We shouldn’t do that. Just tell them no. But I’m really glad we did. I mean, making the show is like a full time job. And then we’re making a movie along with it. We want to keep working on the show in a way where we’re focused on it. And it was still good in the movies. We didn’t want one to suffer because of the other.”
“I remember 15 years ago, we’d hear in press conferences, all the Simpsons creators when they talked about making their movie. And they’re always just pissing and moaning about how hard it was to make a show and a movie at the same time,” Derriman said. “And then why can’t they just, you know, can’t you just hire more people? And then we worked out that no, they were they read is really hard. Like I now I feel sorry for making fun of them back then.”
“I will add only a whiff of optimism. We kept thinking this one will speak to the other,” director and Bob’s Burgers creator Loren Bouchard said. “That instead of hopefully, in success, instead of taking from that, you know, maybe the movie was taken from the series, we were hoping that the movie was also at the exact same time feeding the series, and vice versa. And that we were going to somehow come out the end of this feeling like we’ve made the right decision.”
Though Smith and co-writer Bouchard pen the script together, it wasn’t something that wasn’t open to any changes. In fact, there were changes up until the witching hour. “We worked on this movie until just it feels like last week. They we were determined to take every moment they gave us and keep working on it,” Bouchard said. “So yeah, it changed. It wasn’t like it drastically changed. It was more like any time we had we were we were excited to take advantage of tweak jokes change. You know picture. Fuller out with the sound it was it was not just the script just everything was in our hands until they tore it from our little fingers.”
But the one thing you can’t take away from Louise is her signature pink bunny ear hat. Though fans have seen her without it, the history behind those ears remained a mystery. At least, until now. The film, which centers mostly on Louise’s character, takes a look back at what makes the hat so special in a way that’s heartfelt but also humorous. “I did feel honored that the Louise would have such a heavy storyline throughout this very special event,” Schaal, voice of Louise Belcher, youngest member of the Belcher family, said. “And also something that I think myself and a lot of the fans have been waiting for is to see what is the story behind Louise’s bunny ears.”
Though Bob’s Burgers is known for its comedy and its punny Burger of the Day, the show has shown its fans that they have a talent for music and dancing that cannot be contained. “We knew early on with this movie that music was going to be part of it,” Bouchard said. “We knew it was a lever, a big lever we could pull to make it feel big make it feel like a spectacle. And one of the things we wanted to do in addition to songs was dancing.”
Much of the dance choreography that you’ll see was inspired by Nora, who filmed herself dancing in the kitchen. Just don’t expect to see any of that anytime soon. At least until The Bob’s Burgers Movie hits blu-ray. “I forced a lot of me dancing on people. I filmed a lot of videos of me dancing,” she said. “And I sent them all and try not to watch them again. Because because I was like, ‘Oh, wow, a lot of people saw that.'”
Still, part of Bob’s Burgers‘ appeal is that it has a unique comedic pathos that allows its fans to connect to the underdog Blecher family. And in times like these, we could all use a little comfort food that brings a smile to our faces. “One of my favorite thing is where people say that it just makes them feel good to watch the show,” Schaal said. “A lot of people say it’s good for their mental health. Just anything that can give someone a little piece of happiness in a show I think is really nice and also hard to come by I think selling like you know, a comfort that’s genuine, something that’s happy that feels real, is very difficult to achieve.”
While Bob’s Burgers can make us laugh with its character-driven comedy and sophisticated music, the show’s one constant is that the Blecher family always find themselves in some sort of financial hole. Of course, they are able to get out of it by the end of each episode, the origins of their money troubles is somewhat questionable. Is it because Bob’s a bad business man or a bad cook? “Loren and I have talked about this over the years. And I think I got asked this question yesterday. I used to argue to Lauren that Bob was not a good cook, because there was no customers. or very few, just Teddy, one guy came in. So maybe that’s indicative of a food problem,” H. Jon Benjamin, voice of Bob Blecher, said. “But Loren always suggested there’s the ‘burger of the day.’ There’s these like, you know, flights of creativity that Bob has, and he’s super into his food. And I think over the years, you might have won the argument.”
“I like to think I like to think that Bob is a great cook great artists working in a medium that maybe people don’t even understand he’s maybe ahead of his time or perhaps also clearly a bad businessman,” Bouchard said. “And, yeah, it’s we I think we tend to sympathize with that character.”
But Bob’s bad business skills, musical numbers, and funny misadventures aren’t the only running gags fans can expect to see in the long-awaited film adaptation. The signature hilariously pun-filled burger of the day. And after 200 episodes, one might think the writing staff would run out of ideas. But that isn’t the case. “The writing staff comes up with the burgers of the day,” Bouchard said. “There’s one mentioned in the very first scene that basically gives birth to the entire first number. The first time all comes from Linda, basically pitching to Bob, a very long burger of the day name, which is sort of I guess kind of feels like our daily life.”
The question of whether Bob’s a bad businessman or a bad cook is a comedic bit that the cast and crew would like to see go as long as possible. We really like making the show. We really loved making the movie. It is a great pleasure and privilege and an honor,” Bouchard said. “And we are always shocked and surprised that it is also so hard to make a show this many episodes in you think there’s going to be I think there’s going to be a you know, infinite number of stories. And it turns out that’s, you know, that’s a fool’s stance.”
Bouchard then brought up some of the challenges that comes with keeping the show relevant without having all of its signature pieces become comedically stale. And part of doing that is going back to what they know about the Blecher family and the rest of the people of Wonder Wharf. “You have to actually try to now go back and get in between the 200 something episodes that we’ve done. So the targets getting smaller, if you want the show to be fresh and and still finding new things to say,” he said. “But we love the challenge. We love the challenge. It seems like a really, the characters suggest to us that they are worthy of more stories, they kind of keep us going and coming back and trying to figure out how to keep going and will go as long as we can.”
But Bouchard never could have imagined Bob’s Burgers getting past season one much less a movie. In fact, it’s a fear that he held onto for a while. “We went into this with fear and humility and trepidation that we were going to be cancelled immediately. And we actually held on to that for many seasons,” he admitted. “I actually thought it would be better if they lied to us and told us we were about to be canceled. I was afraid that we’d lose our edge I guess or our that somehow the fear was part of it. So yeah, we never dared admit it. And I don’t think it would have been good for the show. We were Bob and you know in some ways we still are, we imagine failure at every turn. And and we just accept success begrudgingly agreed.”
Dedicated fans who has watched Bob’s Burgers from its start 11 years ago to now has always wondered about where the film would fit in the larger continuity, if there is even on begin with. But Bouchard says fans shouldn’t be really concerned about that. “It’s not any kind of linear timeline that we can understand using our own lives. I mean, this is a sort of a circular space where this, this family seems to be going through this sort of roughly a year over and over again with different permutations and then some things we’ve pulled through,” he said. “You can’t call it continuity, really, and certainly not for somebody who’s watching early seasons, and late seasons, you know, in the privacy of their own home streaming. And for them, it must be doubly weird Louise’s on her on her little green mean, you know, being green machine one episode, and then she’s riding a bike and the next episode and so that’s not continuity.”
But Bouchard has a clever answer to that question about the show’s continuity and where the film fits within the timeline. “We have made a deal with the fans. I think that as long as it feels, right, that as long as there’s this sort of it’s not narrative growth over time, but it’s kind of this layers that build up, it has depth,” the director said. “And so for the movie, yeah, I mean, it’s got to fit in there. We are just, you know, now starting to think about these episodes that are that are going to air after the movie, and they’re going to air in the shadow of this event, but of course they also kind of happened before. I mean, in a way that movie happened before the first episode. So this is a weird game to play, but it’s fun.”
The Bob’s Burgers Movie hits theaters on May 27, 2022.