If you've been paying attention to the career trajectory of director Todd Phillips, you've probably noticed a certain pattern in his work -- with his early movies being much lighter than his darker more recent work. On the surface, Road Trip and War Dogs look like they were made by completely different filmmakers. Aware of this tonal change, I recently asked Phillips if his sensibilities have evolved, but that's not the case. Instead, it's more about the writer/director at this point in his career having the freedom to make films the way he wants to make them.
With Todd Phillips currently promoting his new movie War Dogs, I had the pleasure of talking with the director over the phone earlier this month. His new film being darker and much more dramatic than any of his other studio work prompted me to ask about his approach to certain material as my first question in the interview, and he explained what's really going on:
Essentially, the tone present in Todd Phillips' last five movies is more consistent with the tone that he really wishes to strike in his films. Of course, this does not at all mean that he looks down on his earlier work, as he went on to explain:
So why are Todd Phillips tonal sensibilities more in line with the darker elements of The Hangover, Due Date and War Dogs? Using his most recent film, which is based on a true story, to illustrate his point, he noted that his interests lie in telling real, grounded stories -- with comedic and dramatic elements comingling to create a particular type of experience. Said Phillips,
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