Loren Bouchard, Bernard Derriman, And Nora Smith On Why Now Is The Perfect Time For The Bob's Burgers Movie [Interview]

After 12 critically acclaimed and audience-loved seasons, the Belcher family of "Bob's Burgers" is finally heading to the big screen. On the surface, "Bob's Burgers" seems like your average adult animation family sitcom, but the Belcher family's eccentricity, community building, and unwavering familial support has grounded their oddball antics with a hell of a lot of heart. "The Bob's Burgers Movie" heads to theaters this Friday, and fans are in for a marvelous and meaty adventure. (If you're looking for an array of episodes to check out before the movie, have no fear, we've got you covered.)

We were fortunate to have a chat with co-directors Loren Bouchard, Bernard Derriman, and co-writer Nora Smith to discuss why now is the perfect time for the film, how they come up with Bob and Linda's wacky and wonderful parenting decisions, and how they all managed to pull it off in addition to keeping up with the series and their other animated projects.

(This interview has been lightly edited for brevity and clarity.)

'It was perfect timing'

My first question is for Loren. There's not really a blueprint for the series-to-movie adaptation. "South Park" went for the movie almost immediately, "The Simpsons" waited for what felt like forever, and "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" fell somewhere in the middle. Why now for "Bob's Burgers?"

Bouchard: There's the math that the studio executives have to do. And thank gosh, we're not responsible for that. We don't have to make those kinds of decisions. So, I can't speak to what they were thinking, but I will say there was a beauty and sort of elegance, if you will, to the timing for us, because we had done the series long enough that we had just started figuring out how to do little things on the side. And each one got a little bigger than the one before it. It was a cookbook, comic books, and then a live tour. And then we did a concert in L.A. that we didn't take on the road, but we could have. It was a spectacle and it was all about scale and bigness. And that was when they called us and asked if we wanted to do the movie.

And it was perfect timing because we were finally really thinking about a theater. Because it's not just the screen that's big, it's the number of bodies that are together in one place, and all the humanity in one space that you are starting to understand is its own unique thing. And so doing the live show was really eye-opening. The cast is all comedians. They all knew this already. But some of us animation nerds never leave our houses and had never been in front of that many people, and had never had to think about it. But once you're faced with the possibility that "Bob's Burgers" has to entertain 2,000 people in a room and they've paid to be there, it puts a unique kind of spin on things. So it was really good timing. They said, "You want to make a movie?" And we were like, "Yeah. Yeah, we do. We'd like to take that challenge on."

'The positivity of just moving forward'

Oh, amazing. This next one is for Bernard. The restaurant feels like it's always on the verge of closing throughout the series, but in the movie, the stakes feel higher than they've ever been. So how do you maintain the low stakes charm of the series while telling this huge story that demands the big screen?

Derriman: I guess it was these guys [gestures to Loren and Nora]. Obviously the sinkhole was the thing that we came up with that set up Bob losing the restaurant. And so for me, it was just, I think, having the characters — they're still doing their thing. Bob, Linda, they're always fighting to keep that restaurant going. And so even though we had these greater stakes, and this is the closest Bob has really been to losing it, I think having the characters doing their own thing was what it always came back to. It was really just a character thing. It always just came back to what they do in the show and the positivity of just moving forward and doing their best to keep it going.

The Belchers are based on the creators' families

I'm glad that you mentioned the positivity, because that kind of leads into this question that I had for Nora, which is that there's been so much discourse surrounding how children are "supposed" to be acting, especially in animated films. A lot of people have this misconception that animation is strictly a children's medium, which we know is not true. Bob and Linda let their kids be these weird, vibrant, sometimes gross, but ultimately unique people. I'm curious if you could share any thoughts that you have on why this sort of family dynamic is important to see and how you write that?

Smith: Well, we're all really good parents [all three laugh]. I mean, we all have kids and we take the stories from trying to be good parents. And our parents — we bring a lot of our real life to a lot of these episodes and the movie. We just want to protect our little, special, unique children and how they're just weirdos. And I think we want Bob and Linda to be that way too, because they have a lot in common with them as well. Linda was very weird when she was younger, in a wonderful way. It's a supportive family, and that's just what we want. We want to see that. We want to be around that. We want to work in that world. So I think it was easy. And also, we strive for that in our real life. So I think it's like, there's a lot of therapy going on in the show. Like, what parents do we want to be? What struggles are we going through that we want to see? What are our kids going through? What did we go through as kids? So it's really just processing our lives on screen.

'We have to make the best movie we can make'

That's beautiful! For Loren and Nora, as writers, there seems to be this pressure whenever an animated series goes to movies that you have to include every single character that exists within the show's universe. And I was very pleasantly surprised to see that "Bob's Burgers" did not do that. But I am curious if there are any characters that you wish you could have given a little bit more time to in the movie that just didn't fit in this specific story?

Bouchard: We did make that movie that would've disappointed you, but fortunately only in early drafts, and we saw very quickly that to serve that urge, whether it was in ourselves or in our fans, would be to the detriment of the best movie we could make. And so we had to suppress it. We had to cut a few characters that we had already written in, and we had to just tell ourselves, "Look, it's okay." We love Aunt Gayle, but Aunt Gayle does not have to be in this movie. There isn't a rule that says that. There's only one rule, which is we have to make the best movie we can make. And then it clarified itself and we kind of moved on. But look, we love our fans. And if they say over and over again this is what they want, it's so hard to ignore. We want to give them everything they want because they've given so much to us. So we almost accidentally did.

'We exploded several times'

I'm ride or die for Aunt Gayle and Marshmallow, so I was thrilled when they were in the credits. I was like, "There they are! Okay, my heart is happy." So, you all are so busy because you had the movie, you have the series, and you've got stuff like "Central Park" going on. How did you not explode during this entire process?

Bouchard: Oh, we did.

Smith: We exploded several times.

Derriman: Oh, Yeah.

Bouchard: Yeah. There was a series of explosions.

Derriman: It's funny because I remember 15 years ago, or whenever it was when they made "The Simpsons Movie," I would hear them all the time in interviews saying how hard it was for them to make that movie because they were making the series at the same time. And I remember just hearing it, just going like, "God, why are they whining about this so much? Just go and hire some more people. You're in Hollywood, you find some other artists!" But when it came to, it's like, "Holy s***. Yeah, this is really hard." And because you find the best people to work on the show, you want them to be running the show. But it's hard to get that many talented people. And so to then suddenly take what could be half of them off the show is just not possible. You want all of them. You don't want the show to suffer. So that was really hard. Plus, as you mentioned, "Central Park." We have a whole lot of other shows, we had so much going on, and it was the hardest thing, I think, about this whole project.

'The movie is a happy place'

Bouchard: And that was before there was a global pandemic.

Derriman: That's right.

Smith: I feel like the movie was the thing where we could ease into a movie meeting and be like, up until the end, "This isn't something that has to air on Sunday. So we get to do everything we want and make it exactly how we want." So it was sort of nice to take a break from putting on shows that had to be on a really strict schedule and being able to be like, "Okay, the movie is a happy place where we get to make it exactly how we want." Because none of us like to give up a thing until it's ripped from our hands.

Bouchard: It's true. The meetings where we got to talk about the movie, in a way, were this little reward for the foxhole that we were in doing the series, which is, production for a TV series is pressureful. And so it was nice. The light came through the windows in a different way in the movie meetings. It was just a little more air you could breathe — at least, like you said, in the early days. Then it got pressureful again.

"The Bob's Burgers Movie" arrives in theaters on May 27, 2022.