Philip A. Lord (born July 12, 1975) and Christopher Robert Miller (born September 23, 1975) are Hollywood's duo of the 21st century. Lord and Miller met at Dartmouth and became inseparable, going on to create the Cult Classic MTV animated series Clone High in 2002. Despite lasting only one season, many of their later works harken back to its sharp humor and creative visual style.
Lord and Miller moved to feature films with the 2009 animated movie Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, and later to their first R-rated, live-action feature 21 Jump Street in 2012. They stayed on to direct 22 Jump Street in 2014, as well as The LEGO Movie earlier that same year. They've also produced other projects in film and on television, as well as served as guest writers and directors on TV shows like How I Met Your Mother and The Last Man on Earth.
Afterwards, the two were attached to direct the Star Wars anthology movie Solo before leaving the project a mere few weeks before filming wrapped due to Creative Differences. It didn't stop them from bouncing back though, as they wrote and produced both Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Versenote and The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part, released in 2018 and 2019 respectively to universal acclaim. In addition to that, they'll hop back on the director's saddle with two sci-fi films currently in development: Artemis (an adaptation of The Martian author Andy Weir's novel of the same name) and The Last Human (another adaptation of an upcoming book by Lee Bacon). They also signed first-look deals with Sony Pictures Television for overseeing Spider-Man-related TV seriesnote and with Universal Pictures.
Works Lord and Miller have credits on:
- Clone High (2002-2003; creators, writers, directors, executive producers, voice directors)
- How I Met Your Mother (2005-2006; writers, producers)note
- Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009; directors, writers)
- Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 (2013; writers, executive producers)
- 21 Jump Street (2012; directors)
- 22 Jump Street (2014; directors, producers)
- Brooklyn Nine-Nine (2013; directors, writers)note
- The LEGO Movie (2014; directors, writers)
- The Last Man on Earth (2015-2018; directors, executive producers)note
- Storks (2016; executive producers)
- Son of Zorn (2016-2017; executive producers)
- Brigsby Bear (2017; producers)
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018; executive producers)note
- Smallfoot (2018; executive producers)
- Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018; writersnote , producers)
- Bless the Harts (2019; executive producers)
- The Mitchells vs. The Machines (2020; producers)
- Artemis (TBA; directors)
- The Last Human (TBA; directors, producers)
- Author Appeal:
- You might notice that their films star protagonists with little confidence who have to sell their worth to their peers.
- Heavy improvisation.
- Father/son relationships.
- Creative Differences: They departed during production of Solo due to disagreements with producer Kathleen Kennedy and writer Lawrence Kasdan. In fact, both Kennedy and Kasdan felt that their fondness for improv got on a lot of people's nerves with Kasdan even personally coming to the set to berate them for it (leading to an agreement that they would shoot at least one take exactly as written before letting the actors go nuts). Alden Ehrenreich was concerned as well since he felt that his portrayal of Han Solo could end up being a caricature of Ace Ventura. As a result, Lord and Miller were asked to depart as directors and Ron Howard was brought in to replace them.
- Harpo Does Something Funny: They really love just letting the actors go off and do whatever they want. This ended up backfiring on them when they directed Solo, as their allowance for the actors to improvise ultimately led to Creative Differences and the duo exiting the project.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Their projects love to be nudge-nudge-wink-wink about what kind of story they're in. The Lego Movie enjoys always reminding the audience that what they're watching is essentially a bunch of toys doing silly things, and 21 Jump Street is always winking at the audience about how it's a shameless reboot of a mildly popular show from The '80s.
- Production Posse: Aside from Lord and Miller themselves, the two have collaborated with Will Forte on Clone High, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, and The Last Man on Earth. They even gave him cameos in the first Cloudy and The LEGO Movie, the latter serving as a meta joke to Forte's role on Clone High.
- Rapid-Fire Comedy: A lot of their style is contingent on editing and improvisation, resulting in jokes that come at you like a high speed meteor shower.
- Rewatch Bonus: They might as well be the Edgar Wright of the animation medium with how their animated films have layers upon layers of Freeze Frame Bonuses and Funny Background Events that warrant multiple viewings to catch.
- Signature Style:
- Most of the films are usually Affectionate Parody or love letter to something (whether it's a children's book they hold dear, a crime drama show, teen dramas or a product that everybody loves). It's more on the idealistic edge of the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism filled with flawed yet endearing characters and good-natured humor all with well developed character chemistry.
- Their style of humor is a well-honed mix of metahumor/fourth-wall leaning, smash cuts, subversions of dramatic moments, and cutaway jokes. On the surface, their animated offerings compared to the very foul-mouthed 21 Jump Street might not seem like they have much in common, but their jokes are delivered in very similar and effective fashion.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism:
- All of their films, even their 21 Jump Street film series, are very much on their idealistic edge. All with a sense of fun, likability, and good-natured humor.
- Clone High is a more irreverent parody of the cheap gimmicks and corniness of teen dramas.
- Stylistic Suck: When it's funny, the quality of the film's animation will drop considerably. In terms of their live action work, Special Effect Failures like very obvious green screens are abound. In fact, in some montages in their films, they include pictures that anyone with Google could literally pull from search results.
- What Could Have Been:
- As stated above, Lord and Miller were attached to Solo for four months before their fondness for improv got them removed from the project. Supposedly, the film was going in a much more comedic direction under their helm, which didn't suit the tone producer Kathleen Kennedy wanted for it.
- They were on the shortlist to direct Steve Jobs before Danny Boyle officially signed on.