Two heads are better than one. Of course, when it comes to humor, there have been numerous duos who have been known for their comedy. Abbot and Costello is one example. Laurel and Hardy are another. Being able to partner up with another comedian can produce legendary results, especially if one of them is the “straight man.” Stand-up comedy can be brutal, so with another person, comedy can be a little easier. Directing a movie can also be a daunting task, but if two people partner together to make it happen, the results are similarly outstanding. Plenty of siblings have paired up to create films, with the Coen Brothers and the Wachowskis being two prime examples. The key to any partnership is being on the same wavelength. Concerning comedy and directing, Phil Lord and Chris Miller certainly have a great partnership. This week’s two films highlight some comedy gold by Phil Lord and Chris Miller.
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
Length: 90 minutes / 1.50 hours
When Phil Lord and Chris Miller met at Dartmouth College, they found they both had similar artistic tastes and passions. One of these passions was making animated films. While they created short animated films growing up, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009) was their breakout movie. It took them almost six years to see the movie come to fruition. During this time, they learned a lot about characters, story, and writing, partly because they were fired from the project, then re-hired to finish it. Executive feedback drove them to develop as writers and directors, which certainly helped their craft. At the very least, even the CGI used to create Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs was used in such a way as to emphasize their love of traditional animation, hearkening back to their humble origins.
Somewhat based on the children’s book of the same name, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is set in the small town/island of Swallow Falls. The town is floundering due to its lackluster sardine industry, and the locals are sick of having to eat the excess amounts of the oily fish. Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader) is an idealistic inventor whose creation of a device that can turn water into food has the potential to save the town. It’s not until after his initial test of the machine fails that he realizes the device is using the moisture of the clouds around the city to make it “rain” food. Everyone is delighted that there’s something else to eat other than sardines, thus making Flint an overnight success. Unfortunately, the device starts to go out of control and the food gets progressively bigger, threatening to destroy the town with a hurricane of food. It’s up to Flint to stop his machine and save the city.
The LEGO Movie
Length: 100 minutes / 1.67 hours
After the success of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Lord and Miller managed to become the directors of 21 Jump Street (2012) and its sequel, 22 Jump Street (2014), straying somewhat from their animation roots, but sticking to the comedy they proved they could produce together. Their adherence to comedy has created some friction over the years, causing them to be removed from directing such films as Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) since it didn’t meet the tone Disney wanted to convey for the movie. Despite stepping back from the directing side of filmmaking (having only directed four films), they have been writers and producers for many films, including the Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs sequel in 2013. Fortunately, the movies they have written and directed have been quite hilarious, including the phenomenal The LEGO Movie (2014).
Emmet Brickowski (Chris Pratt) is a generic construction worker in the city of Bricksburg. He goes about his normal routine, touting how everything about his life is awesome. One day, he finds a mysterious woman named Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) who seems to be searching for something. Going to confront her, he falls into a deep hole and discovers an odd device known as the “Piece of Resistance.” After passing out, he wakes up under interrogation from one of the subordinates of Lord Business (Will Ferrell) with the Piece of Resistance fastened to his back. Through a series of adventures, he’s rescued by Wyldstyle and meets many other “Master Builders” who are trying to stop Lord Business’ plan to use the Kragle to glue all the LEGO pieces together, permanently. It’s up to Emmet to band the resistance together, discover his own latent talent, and save the world.
2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 animated adventures by Phil Lord and Chris Miller
Bacon #: 2 (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (directed) / Danny Mann -> Balto / Kevin Bacon)