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Creator / Phil Lord & Chris Miller

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That's Miller on the left and Lord on the right.
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Philip Anderson 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. They're returning to work on the revived series for HBO Max.

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.

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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.

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Works Lord and Miller have credits on:

Tropes:

  • Author Appeal:
    • You might notice that their films star protagonists with little confidence who have to sell their worth to their peers.
    • Heavy improvisation.
    • Children's relationships with their fathers. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, The LEGO Movie, Into the Spider-Verse, and The Mitchells Vs. The Machines all have conflict between a child taking a different, usually more creative path than the one their father wants, and the two ultimately coming to understand each other at the end. Mitchells is the only case that is father/daughter instead of father/son.
    • Bright colors and glitchy effects show up a lot in their animated films, especially Into the Spider-Verse (which uses glitchy imagery as a plot point) and The Mitchells Vs. The Machines. They also really enjoy blending 2D and 3D animated effects.
  • 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.
  • In Name Only: Lord and Miller like to take existing properties and turn it into something completely new.
    • 21 Jump Street is a very loose adaptation of the series it is based on. Lord & Miller were less interested in recycling the shows conventions and preferred to make a film that was a lot more light-hearted and wacky compared to the show.
    • Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs retains the title, premise, and a few illustrations from the original book. Otherwise, the entire plot and all of its characters are completely original.
    • Outside the concept of having multiple Spider-Heroes from across the multiverse meet, Spider Man Into The Spider-Verse has nothing to do with the plot of the 2014 Spider-Verse storyline from the comics, where hundreds of Spiders must come together to defeat Morlun and his family. In fact, it has far more in common with the plot of Spider-Men, as both have Peter Parker enter Miles' dimension and serve as a mentor for the novice superhero.
  • 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.
  • Medium Blending: Their animated works often incorporate different animation styles, either for a gag or for stylization purposes. Clone High has at least one bit with a live-action twist, The LEGO Movie (a 3D film) uses live-action footage as part of The Reveal, its sequel has a gag with a 2D "intermission" reel, and The Mitchells vs. the Machines (another 3D film) uses 2D animation for Katie's drawings. Into the Spider-Verse has a similar effect by animating Peni Parker and Spider-Ham in the style of anime and old 2D western cartoons respectively, though the film is consistently animated in 3D barring a Medium-Shift Gag with a live-action popsicle and a stinger animated like the 1967 Spider-Man cartoon.
    • The Afterparty was based entirely on this trope. The series is a about a retelling of a murder done in a different format with a separate style (accompanied by Aspect Ratio Switch) in line with their respective witnesses. Despite the show being in live-action, one of the episodes has a retelling presented in 2D animation.
  • 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 work serves as a meta joke to Forte's role on Clone High: in both works he plays Abraham Lincoln.
  • 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:
  • 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 and cynical 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, invoked 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.

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