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The Bob’s Burgers Movie directors on the future of the animated series

In our interview with the directors and writers of The Bob's Burger movie we talk animation, and go over what is next for the popular TV series

Bob's Burgers Movie directors interview: The Belcher family and Teddy singing

The Bob’s Burgers Movie sees everyone’s favourite TV family take to the big screen in a colourful musical. With the original cast of the long-running series returning, quick-witted humour, and a fun script, the animated movie is finally out in theatres on May 27. To celebrate the long-awaited release, we sat down with directors Loren Bouchard, Bernard Derriman, and writer Nora Smith to discuss the film as well as the future of the series ahead of Bob’s Burgers season 13.

First announced in 2017, fans of Bob’s Burgers have been waiting a while for this feature film to come out. Luckily the flick doesn’t disappoint and offers a story full of high stakes, and even murder. After a sinkhole appears in front of the Belcher Family’s restaurant, a skeleton is found, and the family must work to uncover the true killer while also saving their restaurant in the process. Loren Bouchard is no stranger to Ocean Avenue; in fact, he is the creator of Bob’s Burgers. Both Nora Smith and Bernard Derriman serve as producers of the series as well before signing on to work on The Bob’s Burgers movie.

In our interview with the three, we discuss their choices made in this film, how the movie will tie into the future of the TV series, and how important their fanbase remains to be to this day.

The Digital Fix: First of all, I’m a huge fan of Bob’s Burgers, and it was so nice to see this movie after the long wait. When I first watched the movie, something that really surprised me was the fact that it was a musical. Why did you make that decision?

Nora Smith: I think we never would have been able to make a movie without putting songs in it. Like we can’t help ourselves, I guess. So we always planned to do songs just because we love it so much. And we love that the fans love it as well.

Because, in the show, we’d never do like a full-on musical, the show always has like one, maybe two songs. So, we decided we weren’t going to be a full musical, we were going to be a Bob’s type of musical musical. And then we just liked the idea of mixing that with mystery and action-adventure and having it be like a little bouquet of all these different genres.

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Loren Bouchard: I mean, the other thing is we knew that music can give you that thing that is so important in a movie. It can give you that spectacle. And I knew that was one of the most important tools that we had going in. We were going to try for it. And in lots of other ways, too.

We were going for it, you know, spectacle was on our minds, but music gave us at least a sense like, ‘ok, when the movie starts, we’re going to tell the audience that this is a plane taking off’. And the way to tell the audience that is with that opening musical number.

A thing I appreciate about this movie, too, was there were tons of callbacks to the series. But it also felt like a good introduction to Bob’s Burgers for someone who’s new to the franchise. As creators, how did you find that balance between giving longtime fans the fan service they want and being accessible enough for everyone to jump into the series if they hadn’t seen it before?

LB: We love our fans. We do. As Nora has said before, we work for them. They are the reason we, you know, attack our job with as much enthusiasm as we do because of our relationship that’s been there since the beginning. Our fans are incredible.

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But that said, we knew if we just made a movie for them, that even they would be disappointed. They would think that they were getting the movie they wanted with lots of cameos and callbacks and details that only they would know and appreciate, and lots of ways for them to elbow each other in the theatre and say ‘I get that because I watched that show’. But even they would leave feeling empty.

If we didn’t first and foremost make a movie that stood on its own. That absolutely works. If you’ve never seen the series. Even if you don’t like animated movies, it has to just work as a movie first and foremost.

So we gave up on the idea of making a movie for the fans even as much as we love them and try to first make a movie, that stood on its own two feet. And we didn’t look back. Once we adjusted our attitude to that, we knew it was the right thing to do. And we hope the fans agree.

Bob's Burgers Movie directors interview: the sinkhole outside the restaurant

Bernard Derriman: I think one of the things we love doing on the show, and it’s because the fans see it all, are all the little details. And I don’t think it’s going to affect anyone’s viewing pleasure if they’ve never watched the show before.

But as far as the sinkhole and a lot of fans picked up on this too, once we knew there was going to be this sinkhole that opens up in front of the restaurant, we introduced the crack in front of the restaurant and had characters starting to trip on it from as soon as we knew.

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And we love that you can do those things and they always find them. So the fans are like people are putting together little montages of characters tripping all in the lead up to the movie, you know, and that’s great. But again, it’s like, if you’re a fan, you’ll love it, but you’re not going to be left out if you don’t know the show.

Yeah, the only criticism as a fan that I have is that there was a lack of Gayle, my favourite character. So…

[Everyone laughs]

BD: I die every time that comes up to us [laughs]. Every time I see online someone said, ‘Oh, I hope Gayle’s in it’ you’re like, ‘oh!’ [exclaims in regret]

Bob's Burgers Movie directors interview: Gayle

Yeah, she’s a great, great character! Without giving too much away, the film’s ending features something new for the restaurant. Will we see season 13 have a different, slightly altered opening sequence because of the film’s closing scene?

LB: Funny you should say that! We have just been discussing that. It makes sense to us. There’s a continuity to the show that we enter into carefully because it’s not regular continuity. It’s sort of a strange circular continuity that only makes sense, I think, if it makes sense to everyone.

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So we approach all those decisions with a little bit of like. It almost gets metaphysical. How can this be something that carries through, but other things aren’t? We like that question. Let’s put it that way.

This is a broader kind of question about animation in general. In the last Oscar ceremony, we saw that there was quite a lot of controversy about how animation was introduced as a category. It was labelled as ‘just for kids’. As professionals working in the industry, I wanted to know what you would say to people who misjudge this art form?

LB: I really don’t get too upset about that particular statement. That controversy didn’t feel personal to me, and I never am bothered by people who say they don’t like animation. I generally, let them have that; I don’t say, ‘Well, now, wait a minute. And maybe there’s sort of, you know, a show that you would like, if you and I could just flip through Netflix really quick, we find something, and we agree.’ [laughs]

Generally, it’s if somebody wants to think of it as something they don’t like, or just for kids, I kind of feel like that’s fine. That’s personal. That’s, that’s up to them to decide. It’s like, What’s your favourite colour or something? Or, if somebody thinks they don’t like jazz, it’s like, ‘Alright, I guess’ and ‘how can I talk you into this?’

Bob's Burgers Movie directors interview: the Belcher family behind some bushes

But I will say for those of us that have sat in a theatre or watch something at home, and it’s affected us deeply, either made us, laugh till our sides hurt, or made us cry, and it was animated. We know otherwise. We know the difference. It’s a medium. And it’s not; it’s not a genre. It can be anything; it can be lots of different things.

And those of us who work in the industry, I think the other dirty little secret is, we don’t always watch every animated thing that comes out where we work in the industry, because we love making it. And because it’s the tool that suits our storytelling style, and our personalities.

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So, again, if you don’t want to watch, you certainly don’t need to watch. No, it’s totally fine. We’ll all go and watch The Crown together, and we’ll be very happy. Watching live-action, it’s also a great medium. Yeah. And live-action is not just for kids either.

You have another show, which is The Great North. In my mind, it’s got the same kind of wholesome vibe as Bob’s Burgers. They’re very different shows that have that signature charm. Will we be able to see crossover a time soon?

[all laugh]

LB: Nora, you want to take this one?

NS: We are pretty firm and proud of keeping our world ‘our world’. And like the Bob’s family doesn’t know that they’re, you know, on a TV show. I mean, there’s certainly a lot of crossover already as far as like Megan Mullally is really great on both shows, you know? They already like sort of blend a little in a wonderful way.

But technically, I think that we like to keep both worlds as real as possible. So it might break it too much if they meet. But a fan can make it! And then we can watch it and be like ‘ ah you did it. Thank you.’

Bob's Burgers Movie directors interview: the Belcher family sitting on their couch

BD: We do stress a lot over that. You get all sorts of requests to do crossovers. You know, the biggest one, of course, was when we did a Simpsons opening, which was a great honour, and there’s no way you’re going to pass up on that.

But it took us a while to crack. You know, ‘how do we do this? And not break our show?’ You know, even though it’s something as sort of crazy as the opening of the Simpsons always is. But yeah, we really had to work hard even to convince ourselves to do that.

Thank you so much for talking to you guys. It was lovely chatting with you. And again, I love the movie.

All: Thanks, Emma!

The Bob’s Burgers Movie hits theatres on May 27, 2022.