Lord & Miller: Cartoon cut-ups ‘Jump’ at live-action feature debut

Comedy Impact Report 2012: Film - Phil Lord & Chris Miller

After scoring with 2009’s animated hit “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs,” directing duo Phil Lord and Chris Miller could have easily stuck to cartoons. Instead, they took a chance on helming the bigscreen revival of “21 Jump Street,” putting a raunchy comedic spin on the 1980s TV series. The result racked up more than $200 million worldwide, including $138 million domestic.

According to Miller, the duo is lucky to be working together at all, considering the nearly disastrous first meeting they had back in college, when an inebriated Miller accidentally lit Lord’s girlfriend’s hair on fire at a raucous party. “Her hair smelled terrible, but she was OK, and we became great friends,” he recalls.

While they enjoy working in animation, the lengthy three-year process involved in making “Cloudy” spurred the duo to seek out the faster, more spontaneous pace of live-action filmmaking. The prospect of “making a hard-R-rated action comedy with Jonah Hill also seemed like the most different thing we can do,” Miller says.

The directors are teaming up again on a high-concept Lego feature.

“It’s getting more common to direct in duos,” Miller says. “It forces you to be extra-collaborative, and what’s great about film is that it’s a collaborative medium: Hundreds of people are all part of making something come together with one clear vision.”