The Bobs Burgers Movie cast on bringing their “more nuanced” characters to the big screen

The all-singing, all-dancing Bob’s Burgers Movie is almost here. The animated series, which first debuted in 2011, almost feels antithetical to the feature-length treatment: it’s a cutesy, grounded series that sticks out like a sore thumb in a landscape filled with cynical TV shows that often preach shock value over sweet character moments. But have no fear – it’s “business as usual” for actor H. Jon Benjamin, who plays Bob on the show.

“They were talking about making a movie for a few years, so it wasn’t totally unexpected,” Benjamin tells Total Film. “The way they crafted the movie, it was this sort of expansion, or expansive version of the show. But it kept to the core roots of the show. So it was pretty similar.”

Larry Murphy, who voices lovable sad-sap Teddy, adds, “I liked how it followed the plot of a regular episode, but kind of raised the stakes and everyone got to act in their character roles.” Dan Mintz, who plays Tina, is in agreement: “I think they really threaded the needle. I think they got the stakes high enough to be super excited that there’s a movie, but everything is in the spirit of the show.”

For Murphy, it’s also a perfect jumping-on point for newcomers, all thanks to The Bob’s Burgers Movie’s desire to stuck with what brought it to the dance, “If you were seeing this movie for the first time, you’d be kind of blown away because you’d know that if you enjoy the characters and you’ve enjoyed the world that you were in, there are 200 episodes that you could stream of this show.”

Summer dreams

The Bob's Burgers Movie

(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

That’s not to say it’s going to be a carbon copy of Bob’s Burgers, stretched out to 100 minutes. In our interview with creator Loren Bouchard, he said, “We knew we wanted the characters to be forever changed, but in a subtle way.”

There are plenty of external forces to change the Belcher clan, too. Bob and Linda are undergoing money troubles in a bid to save the restaurant, while kids Louise, Gene, and Tina find themselves on the precipice of an exciting and fretful summer as doubts begin to encroach on their biggest dreams, all backed by a murder mystery on the doorstep of their restaurant.

“I think they’re excited for summer, they have their dreams, but they’re also nervous. Gene wants to play the big band show at Wonder Wharf, and Tina is unsure of where her romantic heart lies. She’s on the fence about a summer boyfriend,” says Eugene Mirman, who plays wannabe musician and middle child Gene.

Mintz is also acutely aware of how Tina’s on-again/off-again flirtation with Jimmy Jr. has been quietly remixed in Bob’s Burgers big-screen debut. “Tina’s dilemma is: ‘Do I want Jimmy Jr. to be my summer boyfriend or do I not want him to be?’ Which is interesting because you expect it to be ‘Will he say yes or will he not?’ The fact that Tina feels it’s all within her control is a new level of competence. With that new level of competence comes new things to worry about,” Mintz says.

“I was interested in Gene’s vulnerability and the idea that he’s like, ‘What if my music isn’t good?’ Everyone else knows it’s amazing. That was a new layer to me,” Mintz remarks on one of the new sides we see from the Belcher kids. “I guess all characters have a vulnerability that we didn’t see as much in the show.”

On the movie’s premise, Benjamin adds: “I think, for Bob, he’s faced with a real existential crisis. Bob probably has never felt like he can’t go on or can’t solve the problem for the family to keep the restaurant going. So I think the movie gave him higher stakes and the family helping him had greater significance for Bob. That was a good way to go for the movie.”

The Bob's Burgers Movie

(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

But Bob has his rock. Linda, played by John Roberts, is the cheery yin to Bob’s downbeat yang. In the movie, things kick off with an epic musical duet between the pair which not only cements their status as one of television’s most endearing couples, but sets the stage for the adventure to come.

“I think it speaks to who the characters are, their essence, which is that Bob is constantly worried and Linda is always a foil to that, someone who’s always positive and pushing Bob forward,” Benjamin explains.

Roberts chimes in, joking, “Deeper than that: behind every unsuccessful man is an unsuccessful woman. Bob and Linda started their dream together, which is Bob’s dream. Linda is a part of it and she supports him. It says a lot about their characters and their lives that they are there for each other – for their dreams and for their family.”

It’s youngest child Louise, though, who is the major benefactor of what Mirman calls the movie’s “more nuanced” take on these familiar characters. “She is still the ringleader here, but the whole story of the movie comes from Louise being worried – someone calls her a ‘baby’ –  and she wants to prove that she’s brave,” Mintz says. 

“The kids especially do pull together the family in a weird way, despite being children. They’re going to make a mess of it, [but] they try really hard,” Benjamin explains. “They know the family is in a crisis. Louise is the spark… The story of this movie really gives that a lot of air. The kids really do feel obligated as part of this family to rectify the situation for everybody.”

The secret behind success

The Bob's Burgers Movie

(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

At this point, you’d be forgiven for thinking a movie is the last dying wheeze of a franchise that’s fresh out of ideas. If you’ve been watching Bob’s Burgers for the past decade, you’ll know that couldn’t be further from the truth. 

On the secret behind the show’s longevity, Benjamin has a good sense of exactly how Bob’s Burgers stands out from the pack, “I think there’s a sense the characters care about each other and that’s not the focal point of a lot of animated comedies. That’s not much of a concern for a lot of shows. Not that that’s bad, but I think the show does squarely fit on its own.”

Mintz and Mirman also point to behind-the-scenes stability as another reason why Bob’s Burgers has been so successful for so long. “A lot of times when a show goes down in quality, it’s because all the original writers left. I think everyone just has such a great time there that they’re not leaving for other jobs,” Mintz explains. 

“There’s like a camaraderie, and a lot of the people who work on the show have also known each other for a decade before the show even began,” Mirman adds. “So I think like the cast and the writers and a lot of the people involved are sort of like a family. We’ve all worked together for so long and also love working together.”

There’s a reason why, when pressed on what could come next for Bob’s Burgers, Benjamin says he’d be happy to do it all again another decade. If The Bob’s Burgers Movie is a success, there’s every chance that could come to pass – on the big screen or otherwise.

The Bob’s Burgers Movie is now out in cinemas.

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