Chris Miller

LEGO Movie Batman

With the release of The LEGO Movie on DVD and Blu-ray this week, we’re taking a look behind the scenes of the movie with the cast and crew. Christopher Miller and Phil Lord lead the commentary, joined by many of the actors in the studio, as well as Elizabeth Banks who phones in her contributions from an undisclosed location. Miller and Lord are riding a wave of cinematic goodwill with two of the biggest openings of 2014 (is a 23 LEGO Jump Street far of?), but they managed to tear themselves away from counting their cash and diving into piles of gold coins like Scrooge McDuck to devote an hour and forty minutes to the cause of pulling the curtain back from the magical world of LEGOLAND.

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Closing credits The Lego Movie

Dynamic directing duo Phil Lord and Chris Miller have done it again, turning a seemingly terrible idea (a sequel to a movie based on an eighties television show about teen cops? Surely you jest!) into one of the year’s best comedic outings and a financial juggernaut, as least week’s uproarious new release 22 Jump Street has already laughed its way to over $60M at the box office. Although the re-teaming of Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill has plenty to offer — big emotions, sage commentary on the power of words, sad Dave Franco, lobsters, Ice Cube yelling a lot, a star turn from Jillian Bell – there’s one thing that everyone is talking about: its closing credits that imagine some of the other sequels the franchise has in store for us. Over at Mashable, Jordan Hoffman dives deep into the “best part” of the film — its crazy credits, naturally, although the entire film is a very funny, very satisfying sequel and we certainly won’t balk at a whole slew of new titles — analyzing some of the better sequel options (we’re holding out on 33 Jump Street: Generations, 35 Jump Street: Traffic School sounds particularly good and any franchise that sends its cast to space gets thumbs up in our book). If you’re looking for something quick and dirty, Vulture posted the full listing of every sequel that appears in the credits, though damn if this doesn’t even remotely do justice to the final product itself (but it will do). Although the end credits of 22 Jump Street are easily the best credits of any Lord and Miller joint (and certainly the best of this year and, […]

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The Last Man on Earth trailer

Here’s the only problem with Will Forte being the eponymous last man on Earth in Fox’s, uh, The Last Man on Earth: there’s no one left to laugh at his jokes. Well, except us. In Fox’s upcoming high concept comedy, series creator and writer Forte plays Phil Miller (and, yes, that’s definitely a play on the names of producers and pilot directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller — yes, that Phil Lord and Chris Miller, so obviously you should be clearing your calendar for this one ASAP), the last man on Earth. Probably. Most likely. And we get to watch. As the show’s official website tells us: “The year is 2022, and after an unlikely event, only one man is left on earth: PHIL MILLER (Forte), who used to be just an average guy who loved his family and hated his job at the bank. Now, in his RV, Phil searches the country for other survivors. He has traveled to every city, every town and every outpost in the United States, Mexico and Canada, and has found no one, which leads him to the painful realization that he is almost certainly the last living being on the face of the earth.” Let’s imagine the (hilarious, but also heartbreaking) future after the break.

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Emmett in The Lego Movie

There’s no pleasant way to say this, so let’s rip this Band-Aid off right now: Phil Lord and Chris Miller will not be directing the sequel to The Lego Movie. Choke back a sob. Curse the heavens. Scream something unintelligible and overturn the nearest table (in slow-motion, if possible). Let it all out. The guys who made 21 Jump Street uncharacteristically awesome and turned soulless product placement into childlike wonderment are moving on to greener, non-Lego Movie sequel pastures.

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It’s been a few weeks since Fox declared war on the long-held tradition of TV pilot season. And no, “declared war” isn’t really an exaggeration; Fox’s Kevin Reilly is quoted as saying “R.I.P. pilot season,” presumably with scythe in hand and an icy wind rustling his hooded black cloak. And in the weeks since, Fox has stuck to that audacious (and spooky) claim. They’re producing less pilots and developing full series orders without any kind of seasonal timetable, with Gotham and the Tina Fey/Margaret Cho joint Cabot College being the first to benefit from the new and improved network. And now comes a third: Last Man on Earth. Created by Will Forte, the series will see the Nebraska actor as, well, the last man on Earth. Originally, the series was meant to feature “two strangers who must ensure the survival of the human race,” but somewhere along the line, Forte must have figured out that you can’t call something Last Man on Earth when it has more than one person in it. Thankfully, the show is now being billed as having a single lead in Forte.

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cloak and dagger poster image

Considering I do these weekly lists of movies to watch in order to highlight new releases as gateways to older works, it’s particularly fun to focus on something geared toward children. Young people aren’t as familiar with a lot of movies, so they’re more in need of such recommendations. A lot of time, though, the allusions they should subsequently become familiar with are for an older audience. At least one movie included in this week’s list inspired by The LEGO Movie, for instance, is definitely not suitable for children at all. Others won’t be of much interest to them. Meanwhile, there are a lot of obvious, explicit movie references in The LEGO Movie that I didn’t feel necessary to spotlight, such as Star Wars, Harry Potter, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Lincoln and any of the many DC superhero movies featuring some of the characters represented in LEGO minifig form. There are some fairly obvious titles included, though; the first half of the list is mainly movies that many critics have mentioned in comparison. And then there is the second half, which is filled with pretty obscure films, most documentaries, tied to LEGO in some way. As always, name any movies this one reminded you of as well as any you think we ought to check out next. Also as always, beware that there are spoilers for this week’s movie, so if you haven’t yet seen The LEGO Movie, you need to do so right now and then come back to […]

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Lego Movie

Film critics are heaping it with almost universal praise, with The Lego Movie sitting pretty at a 96 percent Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes thus far. Warner Bros. is wasting little time in greenlighting a second installment to what is expected to be an enormously successful opening weekend family film. Early predictions have The Lego Movie pushing $40m or more in first weekend gross, which suggests the movie will easily outpace its competitors, Vampire Academy and The Monuments Men. Screenwriters Jared Stern (Mr. Popper’s Penguins, Wreck-It-Ralph) and Michelle Morgan (Girl Most Likely) have been tapped by Warner Bros. for co-writing duty for the sequel. The Lego Movie is one of the first pieces in what is designed to be the studio’s return to prominence in animated fare, having last year hired a stable of writers and filmmakers to bolster their ranks in that department. Including Stern, they have onboarded Chris Miller and Phil Lord (Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs), John Requa (Cats & Dogs), Glenn Ficarra (The Angry Beavers), and Nicholas Stoller (The Muppets).

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Clone High 2

Way, way back in 2002, a little show about teenage clones hit MTV, delighted audiences, and was promptly cancelled. Clone High was a slapstick satire of the teen shows that grew out of the Dawson’s Creek mold, but it had a sci-fi twist and an irreverent sensibility that allowed it to send up just about everything. But more than anything, it was about love. The dry kind, and the kind you find in a meat locker. We’re talking versatility here. Sadly, even though the first season adventures of Abe, Cleo, Joan, JFK, Gandhi, Principal Scudworth and Mr. Butlertron ended with a massive cliffhanger, a second season was never to be. Until now. Despite being insanely busy with a follow-up to 21 Jump Street and an epic Lego Movie, Clone High co-creators Phil Lord and Chris Miller agreed to explain what might have happened if we’d gotten to see more of our friends from Clone High High School. Today, in a very special Film School Rejects feature, we reveal the insanely unbelievable things that they probably made up right before I called.

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21-Jump-Street

Ever wonder why comedy sequels are rarely ever able to be as funny as the originals, even when all of the same people come back to make them? Well, Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the writing and directing team who have brought us things like the gone too soon cult TV show Clone High, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, and last year’s surprisingly excellent TV-to-film adaptation 21 Jump Street, have just done an interview with Collider, and in addition to confirming that they are now officially signed on to make 22 Jump Street, they also had some interesting things to say about the hurdles you need to jump over in order to make a comedy sequel. First off, what’s the plan for a 21 Jump Street sequel? The only specifics regarding what the new film is going to be about are that it’s called 22 Jump Street because the program gets moved across the street to a fancier building, Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill will both be back as our undercover agents, this time infiltrating a college, and Ice Cube will once again be back as their commander, who continues to be abhorred at their general idiocy and lack of professionalism.

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The LEGO Movie

“The Lego Movie combines all your favorite pop-culture characters: Batman, Superman, The Green Lantern, (most likely) Hobbits and Harry Potter, all for one giant commercial for Lego!” Good thing for us, that’s not the animated picture directors Chris Miller, Chris McKay, and Phil Lord are making. A movie that literally has “Lego” in the title could easily be interpreted as just that, but at the film’s Comic-Con press conference, the three filmmakers stressed the actual movie is far from an ad. This was a project treated with a good deal of skepticism when it was announced, but after the trailer, it’s shown skeptics they’re not going to see the movie they were dreading. We learned plenty more about the film while in attendance at Comic-Con, so if you’re curious in how the film is more than a payed advertisement, read what the the three men had to say about Michael Bay, Morgan Freeman voicing a crazy wizard, and more.

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Cloudy 2

Have you seen Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, the adorable 2009 animated film from the undeniably talented duo of Phil Lord and Chris Miller? Of course you have. Not having seen it would be an atrocity. Seriously. Imagine, if you will, that the lords of cinema were gracious enough to grant us a sequel. A return to Swallow Falls in which Flint (Bill Hader), his beloved Sam Sparks (Anna Faris) and their ragtag group of supporting characters returned to the scene of the previous crime, where food had begun to evolve and turn sentient. A land of Shrimpanzees and Tacodiles. No, this isn’t a fever-dream for your inner child, it’s an actual Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2. Exactly the sort of thing this world needs, if you ask me.

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The LEGO Movie

It was only natural to respond to Warners  announcing a LEGO movie by throwing things. When they first went public with the idea in 2010, it was just another toy adaptation from a studio drooling at the success of Transformers and fighting for viability alongside a lot of other plastic-based movie pitches. If you’re a fan of Clone High, the news of Phil Lord and Chris Miller signing on to writer and direct provided some hope. That hope grew as story details emerged, but for everyone else out there that’s still incredulous that this is anything but moronic, the trailer should melt away the rest of the cynicism. Check it out, and enjoy Will Arnett as Batman:

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Lord and Miller

As far as we’re concerned, directing duo Phil Lord and Chris Miller are three for three on their high profile projects, as both their television series Clone High (R.I.P.) and their two feature films (Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs and 21 Jump Street) are hilarious, clever, and scarily watchable entertainment diversions. Now the pair is attached to helm their very first sequel to their funniest film yet (sorry, Cloudy fans), as the pair are reportedly back in the saddle for 21 Jump Street 2: More Jumpier (perhaps not the actual title). When the sequel got finalized back in July, we only knew a few scattered facts – like that star Jonah Hill and screenwriter Michael Bacall were set to draft a new screenplay, that Channing Tatum and Hill would return to star, and that it would send the boys to college – and now we’ve got lots more to get excited about when it comes to this project (seriously, who knew we’d all be salivating for a sequel to a modern reboot of an ’80s TV show). In a delightfully comprehensive interview with Neal Mortiz over at Collider, the producer spilled a ton of details about the upcoming sequel and, as is often rare with this type of thing, they all sound awesome.

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Some people may wonder why a movie idea like, say, Battleship gets raked over the coals while a film built on LEGOs gets the benefit of the doubt. The reason partially has to do with the absurdity of basing a movie on a game where you call out letters and numbers with no story attached to it  versus a toy that has a lot of different characters and environments built in. The rest of the reason is that Phil Lord and Chris Miller – the writer/directors behind LEGO: The Piece of Resistance are Midas ever since Clone High. Their track record is unimpeachable, and it’s only grown in respect after Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and 21 Jump Street (a movie concept that wasn’t totally given the optimism treatment early on). According to Deadline Hollywood, the animated movie’s cast – which already boasts Chris Pratt and Will Arnett – just signed Morgan Freeman and Elizabeth Banks. Freeman will voice a character named Vitruvius, who may or may not be a reference to the Roman architect of the same name (one Leonardo da Vinci invoked with his Vitruvian Man). That’s beyond speculation, although the idea of riffing on an architect might fit into a story based on toy building materials. Regardless of what we think the roles may be, Freeman and Banks are excellent additions. It’s sad that we’ve come to a point in major studio animated work where professional voice actors are out of the running for the big roles, but it’s a silver lining […]

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21 Jump Street Sequel

For all the complaining we might do when it comes to Hollywood’s love of reboots and sequels, on occasion, they do get this stuff right. Just look at this year’s 21 Jump Street big screen reboot (re-imagination?) – a hilarious, original, and meta (“We’re reviving a canceled undercover project from the ’80s and revamping it for modern times. The people behind this lack creativity and they’ve run out of ideas, so what they do now is just recycle shit from the past and hope that nobody will notice.”) spin on the ’80s television series that is still one of the funniest films of the year. The film, starring Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill as newbie cops (and best friends) who get sent undercover at a local high school to root out their massive designer drug problem, left audiences wanting more, so it’s convenient that a sequel was announced back in March, with Michael Bacall and Hill set to pen a script treatment for Bacall to craft a full screenplay from. But when, oh when, would we get more of the boys and their hilarious hijinks? According to a new report, really damn soon. F**k you, science!

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Drinking Games

Whether you like it or not, 2012 is the year of Channing Tatum. It’s also the year when the world is supposed to end. Those may be two facts that go hand in hand, but even Tatum’s most bitter critic should recognize that he showed some serious comedy chops with Jonah Hill in this spring’s hit 21 Jump Street, now out on Blu-ray and DVD. Based on one of Fox’s flagship television series, which aired from 1987 to 1991, this film follows two cops who enter the Jump Street program, in which they pose as high school students to uncover a drug ring. It’s a funny film with plenty of irresponsible drinking in it, so tap a keg of cheap beer and have your own party.

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21 Jump Street ain’t no Hot Fuzz, Airplane, or Phil Lord and Chris Miller‘s Cloudy with a Chance of Meetballs. This TV adaptation is no satire or parody. 21 Jump Street is a straight-faced comedy, with only a few pokes at the action genre. Miller and Lord never go further than pointing out the TV adaptation/remake craze and how awesome it is to have doves in your action movie. But like Cloudy with a Chance of Meetballs, 21 Jump Street is a late coming-of-age story. Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) are both nerds. When they join the police force, they want their lives to become Lethal Weapon, Bad Boys II, or Red Heat. As Flint Lockwood did in Cloudy, the duo have to grow up. Here’s what directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller had to say about not making a parody, pro-nerd messages, and invoking the cop genre style:

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Kevin Carr

This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr dresses up in skinny jeans and bling-bling (‘cause that’s what the kids nowadays are wearing, right, dawg?) so he can sneak into his old high school and pose as a student. After spending the following night in jail, he heads to the multiplex to watch the biweekly Channing Tatum movie spectacular. Unfortunately, he goes in the wrong theater and ends up seeing a movie that requires him to read the whole time. And he doesn’t even get to see Genesis Rodriguez’s breasts. It’s a sad day.

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A movie based on the show 21 Jump Street? Dumb, right? Well, directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller acknowledge that right out of the gate. In doing so, they’ve crafted a hilarious and whip-smart comedy with a big heart and mind. The duo didn’t make a series of a action movie references, but an actual action movie. The Jump Street program, which remains the same concept as the original television series, has been resurrected due to a “lack of imagination.” Two of the young-looking cops chosen are Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum), two wannabe badasses. Schmidt and Jenko were on opposite sides in high school: Schmidt was a juggling club loser who went through an Eminem phase, while Jenko was the popular jock. A few years later, the dynamic has changed. Schmidt and Jenko become buddies to even out each other’s respective athletic or academic weaknesses. When they’re thrown back into high school to crackdown on a drug aptly called “Holy Fucking Shit,” their friendship gets tested.  Schmidt is no longer the outcast, and Jenko quickly realizes acting like an asshole isn’t exactly cool anymore.

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SXSW: Rob Riggle on 21 Jump Street

Rob Riggle has a presence unlike most comic actors working today. Most are not exactly domineering or towering, and Riggle fits both of those descriptions. It helps Riggle standout, especially in minor roles. The actor’s one of those guys who’ll come into your movie for a few minutes and mark an impression, and usually as an oblivious asshole. From his collaborations with director Adam McKay to plenty of his other work, Riggle displays what he likes to call “arrogant ignorance.” No matter how much of a loser Riggle will play, there’ll still be a cockiness there. This is a bold statement, but that may be the actor playing at his most arrogant and ignorant yet. There’s only a slight sliver of Riggle arrogance and ignorance in 21 Jump Street, but what’s there is pure comic idiocy. Here’s what actor Rob Riggle had to say about getting to play on set, the awkwardness of studying acting and drama, and how he pushed through bartending:

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