The Bob’s Burgers Movie

The Bob’s Burgers Movie champions working class people with an urge to create

We spoke to series creator Loren Bouchard and the film’s co-director Bernard Derriman about bringing the musicality and thematic strengths of the TV show to the big screen.

Since Bob’s Burgers premiered just over a decade ago, it’s become a cultural touchstone. People resonate with the eccentric, working-class Belcher family as they try to navigate the struggles of keeping their small business alive while also balancing the struggles of family, friends and school. The inheritor of earlier seasons of The Simpsons that allowed characters to be flawed, complex and finicky, the show’s enduring appeal has a lot to do with how it centres on familial love as a cornerstone of happiness and survival. After 12 seasons and over 200 episodes, the Belcher family branches out for the first time on the big screen with The Bob’s Burgers Movie

While there are a lot of blue-collar families on TV, Bob’s Burger co-creator Loren Bouchard still felt something was missing. “There are tons of working-class people out there who work hard every day and have a strong need to express themselves creatively,” he explained over Zoom. “Anybody building a birdhouse in their garage or doing karaoke every weekend, I think that’s beautiful. So, here is a guy making a different burger every day. He’s not trying to make money; he barely understands it. And his whole family is the same way.”

Bob and Linda struggle to pay back a loan when disaster hits and a sinkhole opens up in front of their restaurant. As they’re forced to get creative in raising the money to pay back the bank, the kids’ imagination goes wild as they try to solve the mystery of a dead body at the bottom of the hole. This creative urge propels Bob’s Burgers and is central to the script for the big screen. The script brims with musical sequences, strange contraptions and out-of-the-box thinking. It’s hard to imagine a movie that better expresses the creative impulse central to Bouchard’s vision. 

With the added time and money for the feature, the filmmakers could push the animation into new directions, with new layers of detail and complexity. In particular, the film features action sequences that took a lot of time to plan out. The film’s co-director, Bernard Derriman, explained that they’d imagine these sequences in live-action and worry about rendering them in 2D later. “The beauty of working on this film,” he says, “and having that extra time is that we can do the action sequences exactly the way we want. If this were a live-action film, I would have shot it the same way, too.” 

The other luxury that came with bringing the film to the big screen was the ability to invest in a larger orchestra and score. With numerous musical sequences, the movie leans heavily into the musicality central to the show. The musical sequences are catchy and bouncy, capturing the sense of play central to the Bob’s Burgers ethos. Bouchard and Nora Smith worked together on most of the songs, building on a trusting and collaborative relationship they’ve already established on the show. 

“There’s a natural handoff between us,” Bouchard says. “I can start with music and sing nonsense lyrics into my phone and send it to her. And I get back sometimes a whole song. I’ve just been dazzled by these voice memos she sends me back. She’ll have the lyrics figured out and, for many verses, sometimes harmonies. I loved working on the songs for this movie.”

Part of the pleasure of the film — and of great comedic animated films in general — has to do with its inherent musicality, which extends as far as even the dialogue. The movie brims with rhythms and double-entendres that create a fantastic flow that bridges the gap between different voices and experiences.

“Often, I try to explain to people what we’re listening for,” says Bouchard. “It’s not always the loudest take or the most natural. You want this dynamic rise and fall, sometimes slow, sometimes fast, and you want the characters to sound like they’re influencing each other with their language and thoughts. It’s an amateur mistake to choose the cleanest line read. You realize there’s a more musical version where they pause for a moment to find the right word like it wasn’t written down for them. You want it to sound like music.”

The beauty of The Bob’s Burgers Movie is that even with the opportunity to go bigger, the story remains personal and intimate. The life or death stakes reflect a family trying to keep their home and business. While the story has fantastic elements, it feels personal and rooted in real anxieties. Though geared towards its TV audience, the movie also stands alone as a charming and engaging animated film that will appeal to all ages. ■

The Bob’s Burgers Movie, directed by Loren Bouchard & Bernard Derriman

The Bob’s Burgers Movie opens in Montreal theatres on Friday, May 27

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