Interview: The 21 Jump Street Directors On How To Make Great Movies Out Of Terrible Ideas

By Katey Rich 2012-03-14 15:50:00discussion comments
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Phil Lord and Chris Miller have become much bigger deals since we last spoke, right before the release of their first feature, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. The former writers for How I Met Your Mother and Clone High had taken what seemed like an awful idea-- a high-energy, animated adaptation of a lovely children's book-- and injected it with enough bizarre humor and genuine heart to become a huge hit. There's a sequel to Cloudy on its way, but Miller and Lord aren't involved, instead moving on to yet another idea that seems absolutely awful on paper-- a movie based on the 80s TV show 21 Jump Street.

Lord and Miller are the first to admit they tend to make movies that seem terrible at first-- and same goes for their next project, a movie based on Legos-- but they also take a joy in figuring out how to make them good, which in the case of 21 Jump Street was crafted an undercover cop story around the friendship between Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill's characters, unlikely partners who are devoted to each other even when things get a little hairy. As you might have read already in my review, they pulled off the challenge marvelously, making them 2-for-2 on really good movies that really had no right to be good at all.

Lord and Miller are very quickly becoming big deals, but not so much that Miller-- who shares his name with the Oscar-nominated director of Puss in Boots-- has the guts to attend a Lakers game with Jeffrey Katzenberg. That's where this interview starts, and we go on to talk about the boundaries of "realism" in 21 Jump Street, their affection for the original show, why they wanted to cast Channing Tatum, and how irritated Channing Tatum gets when you don't let him do his own stunts. The second half our interview, in which they explain the Clone High inside joke they snuck into the movie, will run tomorrow. 21 Jump Street opens in theaters this weekend.


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