Making TV Taught The Bob's Burgers Team An Important Lesson For The Movie

You've seen the Belchers flip burgers, act weird, and break out into full-on musical numbers, and soon you'll get to see them do all of that, but on the big screen in "The Bob's Burgers Movie." The 2D adult animated show from creator Loren Bouchard brings one of television's most wholesome families to movie theaters, and I'm really excited to see how the team was able to adapt this strange little show to a significantly different medium.

It's always tricky when a television series has to adapt its world and characters for a theatrical release for a number of reasons. You usually have to walk a tightrope of creating something special for longtime viewers, while also making it accessible enough for newcomers. In the case of "Downton Abbey: A New Era," it was not only a sequel to one film, but over six seasons of serialized storytelling. I still think it did a great job of making the characters feel so approachable that it's easy to fall in with everything that's going on, but "Bob's Burgers" is kind of a different story.

Bouchard's hilarious animated series isn't exactly serialized television, yet it features its share of recurring characters and jokes that progress throughout the series. You can kind of pop on an episode and go from there. One of the biggest challenges, I imagine, is taking a 2D animated series and making it feel worthy for the big screen experience, a lesson the "Bob's Burgers" team seemed to take to heart.

Bring in the shadows!

Supervising producer Janelle Momary talked to Entertainment Weekly about the constraints the "Bob's Burgers" animation team is usually under, having to churn out over 20 episodes a season:

"We're not able to dissect frame by frame, pixel by pixel in what is the best for the image. That's even with story. The writers on the series have a limited time to do their story, outline, get it in, and get it into production. Even with our production and rewrites for TV, it is a very tight schedule."

As with any creative endeavor, sometimes little details slip by in order to make deadline. But with making a movie, however, it's an entirely different ballgame. Momary went on to explain how seeing the series projected onto a bigger canvas allows for more room to go in and make it look as polished as it can be:

"We have the time and we have the resources because we're able to see it in a different space and we're able to see in a theater and see those pixels and you don't want those to go by, either."

One thing you'll inevitably notice with any animated leap to theatrical exhibition is sharper lines, a greater depth of field (things that usually never have shadows suddenly do), and the introduction of 3D animation that makes the established world feel bigger than it ever has. It sure looks like they succeeded, given what we can see through the marketing for "The Bob's Burgers Movie." So while the challenges of adaptation seem to have paid off, there's something Momary said that has me wondering about the film's place within the series.

Does the movie serve a place in the show?

When speaking with Entertainment Weekly, Janelle Momary talked about the balancing act of making a movie and a television series at the same time:

"There's a scenario where every little thing that drips off of the 'Bob's Burgers' movie ends up in the show ... when you're working on the movie, you are simultaneously trying to avoid things [on the show] that you will do in the future. So, you really have to thread the needle in terms of the episodes you're breaking."

I suppose the tricky thing about making a movie while a show like "Bob's Burgers" is still running is adhering to continuity. "The Simpsons Movie" came out during the summer between the series' 18th and 19th seasons. Given all the major events that took place, you would think the start of the next season would involve Springfield going through a massive rehabilitation. Despite some references, the closest the show comes to acknowledging the movie is in the opening intro to the 19th season, which briefly shows Simpsons characters as they were featured in the movie.

Will the events of the film play into future seasons of the series? It's hard to tell, given that "The Bob's Burgers Movie" was initially set for a July 17th, 2020 release, which would have been between the 10th and 11th season. A delay pushed it to April 9th, 2021, which would have been about a month before the season 11 finale. And now, the movie will be arriving just as the series just finished its 12th season. Only time will tell if the Belcher's big screen adventure plays a significant role within the show beyond a passing mention.

"The Bob's Burgers Movie" comes to theaters nationwide on May 27, 2022.