Phil Lord and Chris Miller: A Dynamite Duo

By: Cal Parsons

Phil Lord and Chris Miller have been killing it in Hollywood. There’s no denying that everything they’ve put out recently has been absolutely stellar entertainment, well, as far as I’m concerned. Although they’ve only released 4 feature films in Hollywood so far, starting with Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs and recently releasing 22 Jump Street, the duo has consistently been creating quality comedic content. And now, they’re working on the Han Solo anthology film that’s set to release next year, and fans of both Star Wars and the directors cannot be more excited.

These two directors have now established themselves as creators you should never underestimate. Each property they’ve taken charge of sounds ridiculous and stupid as concepts, and they turn them into wonderfully enjoyable films that you can watch over and over and pick up new themes and visual quirks. Take The Lego Movie, for example, which they wrote and directed in 2014. At a glance, you’d expect it to be a giant commercial for Lego that has no sort of flair or nuance to make it stand out, and is just a ploy to sell more toys. But after seeing it, everyone quickly turned around on their attitude towards the film, and it garnered universal critical acclaim and audiences loved it.

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Hill and Tatum in 21 Jump StreetSource

Now, look at 21 Jump Street. A movie remake of a somewhat decent detective TV show in the late 80s that ran for five years about undercover cops in high school? Well, put Phil Lord and Chris Miller on to write and direct and you’ve got a fresh buddy cop comedy with Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill that exceeds box office expectations and garners widespread critical acclaim. And it’s absolutely hilarious. And then with 22 Jump Street, it was widely known comedy sequels never turn out well. But if you make a meta, self-aware comedy that plays off the idea of sequels ripping off the story of the first, then you’ve got a hit that one can argue is better than the first.

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The Lego Movie promo art – Source

And they’re not simple entertainment films to make you chuckle for a couple hours and forget about. The Lego Movie pushed the boundaries of animated film by playing with frame rate, depth of field and camera angles to make a visually stunning film that looks like a stop motion film made by Lego fanatics. The film tackles an array of themes like commercialism, individuality, and authoritarianism, and is still full of great comedic voicework and visual comedy that set the comedic and thematic tone for the Lego film franchise. There can be plenty of essays written on how the film satirizes cliches and our society, but that’s too much for a blog post. If you haven’t seen The Lego Movie, I promise it’s not as silly as it sounds. I highly recommend it. This video goes more in depth on the film’s themes, MAJOR spoiler warning.

People who are very familiar with the directing duo are waiting impatiently for their next project, the Han Solo anthology film, set when Han Solo is much younger than when we see him in A New Hope. This is yet another property met with skepticism until it was announced that Lord and Miller were set to write and direct, with Alden Ehrenreich and Donald Glover starring in the film as Han Solo and Lando Calrissian, respectively. They are unstoppable, and I’m looking forward to every new film they release in the future.

Here’s a NY Times article that expresses some these views on the pair as well.

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3 Responses to Phil Lord and Chris Miller: A Dynamite Duo

  1. mediaphiles says:

    I LOVE all of these films – Lego Movie, 21 Jump Street … they are advertised as silly, stupid films but when you find yourself watching them, they turn out to be some of the most clever, hilarious movies. I really appreciate this review focusing on perhaps less high brow films that still showcase a certain mastery.

    -Meg Schmit

  2. mediaphiles says:

    I think The Lego Movie and 22 Jump Street are two of the films that have surprised me the most in recent years. I didn’t expect that much going into seeing them, but absolutely loved them. The Lego Movie especially is so much more than a silly movie trying to sell toys, and I think its Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s excellent directing ability that makes it so. I truly can’t wait for their next project!

    -Walker Rise

  3. mediaphiles says:

    I have seen 22 Jump Street three times and still laugh uncontrollably at the hilarious situations that the legendary duo of Channing and Jonah find themselves in. I have also seen The Lego Movie because the kids I babysat were watching it one afternoon. I have to say I was very impressed by the visual depth and camera angles along with the relatable themes. They are both very good movies and I am impressed by this director duo.

    -Sarah Holt

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