After twelve seasons airing on the FOX network, the cult-favorite Belcher family of animated seaside restaurateurs is hitting the big screen this Friday in The Bob’s Burgers Movie.
During a recent press conference promoting the film, Bob’s Burgers creator Loren Bouchard spoke about development of the movie, how it will appeal to fans and newbies alike, and how the “burger of the day” factors into the plot.
The release of The Bob’s Burgers Movie was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Loren Bouchard says that actually helped them create the best final product possible. “We worked on this movie until… it feels like last week. We were determined to take every moment they gave us and keep working on it. So yeah, it changed [along the way], [but] it wasn’t like it drastically changed. It was more like any time we had, we were excited to take advantage of [to] tweak jokes, change picture, fool around with the sound. It was not just the script– everything was in our hands until they tore it from our little fingers.”
Those who may be unfamiliar with the animated sitcom need not worry that they’ll be completely lost in the theater. “You do not need to see the series to understand the movie,” says Bouchard. “It is [about] a family that runs a restaurant and the restaurant's in trouble. You'll get it all in the first five minutes. We have literally made no homework for you. You are invited to come cold. You don't need to know a thing.” And what about the film’s musical nature, something that has become a recurring staple of the series? “One of the things we knew early on with this movie [was] that music was gonna be part of it. We knew it was 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. [Screenwriter Nora Smith] would videotape herself dancing in her kitchen and [director Bernard Derriman] could take that and draw it so beautifully. So all the dancing you see comes from [those] two. No training.”
Bouchard also commented on the perception that family patriarch Bob Belcher may not be very good at his chosen profession. “I like to think that Bob is a great cook– [a] great artist working in a medium that maybe people don’t even understand. He’s maybe ahead of his time [and] perhaps also clearly a bad businessman. I think we tend to sympathize with that character, because who knows how the movie is gonna do.” And fear not– the long-running “burger of the day” gag from the series also plays a role in its big-screen counterpart. “In the movie there’s one on the board, and then there’s one mentioned in the very first scene that basically gives birth to the entire first number. The first song all comes from Linda basically pitching to Bob a very long burger of the day name. Which sort of feels like our daily life.”
Responding to a question about continuity in the world of Bob’s Burgers, Bouchard had this to say: “It's not any kind of linear timeline that we can understand using our own lives. This is sort of a circular space where this family seems to be going through this roughly a year over and over again with different permutations. And then some things we've pulled through. That's not continuity exactly, but 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 these layers that build up. It is depth. So for the movie, yeah, it's got to fit in there. And we are just now starting to think about these episodes that are gonna air after the movie. They're gonna air in the shadow of this event. But of course, they also kinda happen before. In a way, the movie happened before the first episode, so this is a weird game to play. But it's fun.”
Adding to his thoughts about how the series and the movie will be interconnected, Bouchard continued, “We kept thinking this one will speak to the other– that if maybe the movie hopefully was taking 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 gonna somehow come out the end of this feeling like we made the right decision.” And don’t worry, even though the Belchers have now made a feature film, their series won’t be going away anytime soon. “We really like making the show. We really loved making the movie. It is a great pleasure and a privilege and an honor. 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 gonna be an infinite number of stories, and it turns out that’s a fool’s stance. Now you have to actually try to go back and get in-between the 200-something episodes that we’ve done. So the target's getting smaller if you want the show to be fresh and still finding new things to say. But we love the challenge. The characters suggest to us that they are worthy of more stories. They keep us going and coming back and trying to figure out how to keep going, and we’ll go as long as we can.”
Like Bob Belcher, Loren Bouchard is consistently hesitant about the success of the Bob’s Burgers franchise. “We went into this [series] with fear and humility and trepidation that we were going to be canceled immediately, and we actually held onto that for many seasons. I was even afraid, once we got to about season four and it seemed like we might make a run, 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– that somehow the fear was part of it. 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 we just accept success begrudgingly.”
The Bob’s Burgers Movie opens this Friday, May 27th in theaters nationwide.