Ever since the animated comedy Bob’s Burgers debuted on FOX in January of 2011, the hilarious, heartwarming series has won over critics and audiences with its quirky characters, delightfully silly songs and offbeat storylines.
Set in an unnamed beach town, the show follows the members of the ever-relatable Belcher family as they persevere through struggles ranging from the mundane to the absurd. No matter what obstacles come their way, though, worrywart dad Bob, upbeat wife Linda and their three children—boy-crazy Tina, affable Gene and precocious Louis —overcome them by relying on (and good-naturedly ribbing) one another.
After 12 acclaimed seasons, Bob’s Burgers has amassed a devoted fan base that has taken the quirky restaurant proprietors into their hearts. Now, series creator Loren Bouchard, working with screenwriting and producing partner Nora Smith and director Bernard Derriman, has crafted The Bob’s Burgers Movie. Original and inventive, the murder-mystery musical-comedy should satisfy longtime viewers at the same time as it invites newcomers into the Belchers’ colorful world.
The story begins when a ruptured water main creates an enormous sinkhole right in front of Bob’s Burgers, blocking the entrance indefinitely and ruining the Belchers’ plans for a successful summer. While Bob and Linda struggle to keep the business afloat, the kids try to solve a mystery that could save their family’s restaurant. As the dangers mount, these underdogs help each other find hope and fight to get back behind the counter, where they belong.
In celebration of the upcoming movie, Disney held press conference with the creators and cast, including H. John Benjamin (voice of “Bob Belcher”), John Roberts (voice of “Linda Belcher”), Kristen Schaal (voice of “Louise Belcher”), Dan Mintz (voice of “Tina Belcher”), Eugene Mirman (voice of “Gene Belcher”), Larry Murphy (voice of “Teddy”), Loren Bouchard (Creator/Director/Writer, Bernard Derriman (Director) and Nora Smith (Producer).
“The movie is about optimism,” says Bouchard, who serves as the film’s co-director, co-writer and producer. “We wanted to tell a story about a family that does not have all the answers. They have not figured out how they’re going to pay for college or retirement—or how they’re even going to pay the bills next month—yet they’re irrepressibly buoyant and excited to get up each day. That kind of optimism feels especially relevant right now.”
Just like Bob Belcher with his clever daily specials, the Bob’s Burgers creative team has long sought to take the most innovative approach possible to their work, devising adventures for the Belchers on television and beyond. After cooking up holiday episodes and live table reads, the series’ cast and crew had embarked on rehearsals for a pair of special live shows set to take place at Los Angeles’ historic Orpheum Theater back in the summer of 2017. It was then that Loren Bouchard got the call asking if he’d like to make a Bob’s Burgers movie.
Given the ambitious nature of the production he’d been planning—which would feature the cast performing well known songs from the TV show with a full backing band, enormous puppets and copious amounts of confetti—the timing felt fortuitous.
“One of the things we knew early on with this movie is music was going to 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. One of the things we wanted to do in addition to songs was dancing. Nora would videotape herself dancing in her kitchen and Bernard could take that and draw it so beautifully,” Bouchard finished.
“I forced a lot of me dancing on people. I’ve filmed a lot of videos of me dancing and I sent them all. And I try not to watch them again [but] I’ve been doing it since the movie stopped being made, also. [I’m] just sending dances to everyone,” said Nora.
“And I’ve got quite a library, which it’s good. It’s basically all of Nora placing the phone on the bench, backing up, a little move, and then going back and pressing stop,” said Bernard. I felt like we were ready to try to scale up ‘Bob’s’ and do something that would be worth going to the theater to see,” he continued. “We were already thinking about taking a small show about a restaurant and a family and making it feel so big that it pinned you back in your seat.”
“When Loren first was like, ‘So I think we’re going to 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. Making the show is like a fulltime job and then we were making a movie along with it. We want to, like, to keep working on the show in a way where we were focused on it, and it was still good. We didn’t want one to suffer because of the other,” said Nora.
“We used to hear it. I remember 15 years ago, we’d hear in press conferences all the Simpsons creators, when they talk about making their movie, and everyone’s just pissing and moaning about how hard it was to make a show and a movie at the same time. And I’m like, “Can’t they just, you know, can’t you just hire more people?” And then we worked that, no, it’s really hard. Like, now I feel sorry for making fun of them back then,” Bernard agreed.
“Every episode we do, we would love to make it look like the movie. But the problem is, we do 22 episodes a year. It’s 11 hours of Bob’s Burgers. So, we’ve only got a few weeks at a time where we can focus on each episode. It wasn’t actually that big of stretch on the movie, it’s just we had four years for an hour-and-a-half. It was all the stuff that we’ve always wanted to do on the show, we were able to now, in the movie,” said Bernard.
In time, they settled on an idea that was part murder mystery, part musical—and entirely in keeping with the show’s unconventional bent. The Bob’s Burgers Movie opens with the family preparing for what will surely be the sunny-side-up summer of their lives. Linda is confident the bank will grant an extension on their loan payment, Bob, not so much.
“Loren and I have talked about this over the years. I used to argue to Loren that Bob was not a good cook, because there were no customers. Just Teddy. One guy came in, so maybe that’s indicative of a food problem. But Loren always suggested there’s the burger of the day, there’s these flights of creativity that Bob has and he’s super into his food. It’s been pointed out by many chefs, even just to me, how much they like the burger of the day element. They think that’s the signal that Bob is a good cook,” said Jon.
However, Loren disagreed, “I like to think Bob is a great cook, great artist 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. I think we tend to sympathize with that character because who knows how the movie is going to do.”
“I think a lot of the people in the world, and in the Bob’s Burger audience are unsung artists that haven’t been discovered yet. That are probably making really good burgers, or wherever that goes at home that nobody really knows about,” Kristen chimed in.
While all of this is occurring, lovestruck Tina is hatching a scheme to make crush Jimmy Jr. her boyfriend, and Gene is excited to play some shows with his underappreciated but influential band, The Itty-Bitty Ditty Committee—he’s even created a rad new musical instrument sure to take the town by storm. But things take a turn for the worse when an enormous sinkhole opens across the entirety of the restaurant’s storefront. Suddenly, Bob and Linda are forced to find unconventional ways to sell enough burgers to pay the bills, with a little help from their most loyal customer, Teddy. Meanwhile, the children begin to unearth surprising truths about local waterfront amusement park the Wonder Wharf, as well as the family’s wealthy landlord, Mr. Fischoeder, and themselves.
The adventure becomes particularly poignant for young Louise, with the screenwriters exploring just how the youngest Belcher came to wear her signature pink hat. “We wanted that to feel lived-in and real and sweet,” Bouchard says. “Our secret hope was that this isn’t just a mystery where this family saves the town—it’s the story about a nine-year-old girl and how she can get to that place at the very end of the movie where the hat falls off and she’s ok.”
Loren who started writing the script in 2018 before the movie was delayed by the pandemic spoke about the fluidity of the script. “We worked on this movie until just, it feels like last week. We were determined to take every moment they gave us and keep working on it. It wasn’t like it drastically changed, it was more like any time we had, we were excited to take advantage of. [We would] tweak, [insert] jokes, change [the] picture, fool around with the sound. It was not just the script, just everything was in our hands until they tore it from our little fingers.”
For Nora, the film’s producer one of her biggest challenges in adapting Bob’s Burgers for the big screen was balancing the show’s references while welcoming and engaging in a new audience. “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. We were trying to not make it too just chock-full of inside references and we wanted people to come at it fresh and still enjoy all the characters. I think we did a good job.”
Reflecting back on the success of Bob’s Burger, the cast is in awe at the success of the show and now the movie. “We went into this with fear and humility and trepidation that we were going to be cancelled immediately. 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 cancelled. I was afraid that we’d lose our edge that 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. We were Bob, and you know, in some ways we still are. We imagine failure at every turn. And we just accept success begrudgingly.
“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 going to an infinite number of stories, and it turns out that’s a fool’s stance. 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, ” said Loren.
Dan continued with, “Loren has always had a knack for creating characters that really sound like real people in a way that you didn’t even realize you’re missing from other shows until you hear it. There’s someone for everyone to be like, ‘That’s exactly who I am.'”
“And then we also get to go off script and try things. And sometimes we go, ‘oh, can we try this?’ For a while during the pandemic, we weren’t recording together. But now we’re back recording virtually and so, we can play off each other,” interjected Eugene. “And as far as the, do we embody our characters while we’re performing them, the analogy would be like Robert Patterson from The Batman.”
“He imagines himself as the Batman when he’s playing Batman, when he’s doing it. So, it’s similar to that. I would describe myself as a method cartoon character. So, if you come up to me while I’m doing Gene, good luck getting me to not joke around as a little boy. Do you need me to sign this mortgage? Uh-oh, I can’t, I’m 11.” Eugene finished.
The Bob’s Burgers Movie will release in theaters on May 27th.