Based on the Bob’s Burgers television series, The Bob’s Burgers Movie is currently playing in theaters. BGN had the honor and privilege to interview Creator/Director/Writer Loren Bouchard, Producer/Writer Nora Smith, and Animator/Director Bernard Derriman.
Bob’s Burgers started its first season with mixed reviews, then grew into a critical phenomenon for twelve seasons! Now here’s this blockbuster movie! What made y’all decide, “Oh. Now’s the time to do a movie.”
Loren Bouchard: The fans asked for a movie multiple times. Not everyone, but some. In the early days, I think we were nervous. The answer would have been “No” in those days. Or at least, “Don’t ask us now. We’re freaking out trying to make this show.”
Then [20th Century Studios] asked us, and it was a nice time. We were later in our run, which built up some confidence. We knew we would at least do a good job [making the film] while still doing a good job [making the show], at the same time.
I’m so glad [20th Century Studios] asked us! The Simpsons Movie was a big success [Laughs]. I hope they’re not disappointed that The Bob’s Burgers Movie doesn’t make as much money as The Simpsons Movie.
Nora Smith: I don’t think they care about money at all. When I talked to them.
Bouchard: It’s true, you’re right.[Smith laughs]
Why a murder mystery?
Smith: I don’t know if we’d be able to do a murder mystery on the show. It didn’t feel quite right to wrap up in twenty-two minutes: “Oh! That guy got murdered. We figured it out!” You know?
We all love that [murder mystery/horror] genre a lot. We were excited to have a body and have that play out; go a little bit darker than we do on the show.
Bouchard: Yeah! When death is in the frame, it changes everything! It ups the stakes for sure. If someone died, then anybody could die.
Smith: As a horror-comedy fan, I love juxtaposing jokes with darkness and scary moments. For me, it just makes jokes more fun to write.
Bernard Derriman: The skeleton stunt was one of the most fun bits to work on in the movie. That was a busy time. I remember I took that [concept] to save for the end for myself and worked on it over the weekend. That was something we’d never do on the show. That was a fun thing to work on.
A huge theme in this movie is fear. There’s Bob [voiced by H. Jon Benjamin] and Linda’s [voiced by John Roberts] fear of losing the family restaurant, Tina’s [voiced by Dan Mintz] fear of talking to her crush, Gene’s [voiced by Eugene Mirman] fear of performing. But the fear that stood out to me was the fear for Louise (voiced by Kristen Schaal) because, in the show, she’s the bravest of them all.
Bouchard: What’s great about Louise is she is brave. But she wears this hat. She won’t take it off. So she’s got a vulnerability that she’s literally walking around with. Yet, she’s brave! We wanted to unpack that and explain to the audience a question we get all the time: “Why does she wear the bunny ears?”
Some people ask, “What’s under the hat?” I find that question perfectly fine but less interesting. In my mind, it’s just the top of her head. What is interesting is “Why?” So we find a moment where she contemplates that maybe, she’d be ready to take it off. Maybe.
Y’all have been asked a lot about the lack of women who are voice actors in your show. I’m more curious about, and I’m aware of the racial diversity in your shows The Great North and Central Park, the lack of Black people and people of color, in general, having a lack of speaking roles in this movie. What would it look like for Bob’s Burgers to have more racial diversity — especially with the growing amount of voice actors of color Bob’s Burgers has?
Bouchard: Glad you asked that. We are forever feeling behind where we would like to be, behind where we feel the show should be — always trying and then failing. The movie is a perfect example. We aspire to make the show more diverse because it will make the show better.
In the movie, it’s painful to realize, as we were trying to make some diversity on screen, that we ran into minutes. The number of minutes and our own limitations as storytellers. We had the story to tell and the characters we had.
But fortunately, thank goodness, the show is an ongoing thing. The show isn’t done. We just have to redouble our efforts. Make sure we don’t take the foot off the gas of our efforts.
Smith: My husband [Producer/Writer Jon Schroeder] also works on the show. We were just talking about [the discontinued character of the show] Marshmallow. It’s almost a little daunting because she’s such an amazing person; the person that writes the episode worthy of [bringing back] Marshmallow, it’s like: “Ohhhh, that’s gotta be a good episode!” But also, she is just one character.
It’s also exciting to think about how we could make ourselves better. I wouldn’t say “challenge” because it’s a fun thing to do, you know? Who could we incorporate into the school? What voices are we hearing? Who are people we like [we can put on the show]? It’s exciting to be able to make it happen. And we need to start making that happen, obviously.
I didn’t see anyone listed in the credits for choreography. How did the choreography get mapped out for the animation?
Derriman: It was all just very us, really. We trolled the internet a little bit and found things we found funny or thought would translate well to our animation. And the majority of it was Nora. Nora has a great knack for doing those funny little dances. It often would happen where I’d run into a wall, and then we’d turn to Nora, and she’d every time come back with three or four [dance moves] to choose from.
I find animating dancing time-consuming, but I always find it’s kind of easy when you have someone to provide you with references like that. I have animated for long enough that I could just copy what’s being done; wouldn’t need to think about it, and listen to music frame for frame. Draw the character I see Nora doing. That’s where a lot of the dancing came from — Nora in her kitchen.
Smith: I mean, Bernard also makes the dances funnier when he draws them. I have a goofball family that I came from. I think on the weekends when we did chores, we’d make each other laugh with our dances. So I think I’ve just been trying to earn my parents’ love for a long time.[All laugh].
The Bob’s Burgers Movie is currently playing in theaters.
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Maya Williams (she/her & they/them) is a writer based in Portland, ME. Maya has contributed to spaces such as The Tempest, Black Youth Project, RaceBaitr, The Gay Gaze, and more.