This post is in partnership with Warner Bros. Pictures
Producing duo Phil Lord and Chris Miller has had quite a busy past few years. The two were hard at work getting Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse and The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ready. Both were hands-on with the latter, and they can say with full confidence that they are pleased with the results of the upcoming sequel.
We had a chance to sit down with the two with our fellow bloggers to talk about developing the film, the key to making a good film, some of their life choices that led them here.
Though it may seem like there is a formula for making a film good, Miller doesn’t quite know the specifics of it. For him, they just try to make it as good as possible. While it is subjective, it is hard to define what is good and what is bad. But he knows making something good requires collaboration and teamwork. “We have great partners, and we collaborate deeply with everyone,” Miller said. “And we play to the buzzer. You know the reason these movies turn out good is because they turn out bad like ten times in a row before it gets released. And we–and then we go back into everything and realize what we did wrong, and we just try to keep making it better every day.”
Lord adds that they start out with thinking about “what do they want to say, what are the themes, what do they want to put out in the world, what do they want people to walk away thinking.” If it doesn’t have that foundation, he says “then it just feels empty.”
That train of that plays a huge part in The LEGO Movie and The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part. In the original, the film addressed themes of creativity and that audiences are all “inherently creative.” And that in itself plays to the idea that “Everything is Awesome.”
But in the sequel, the two recognize some of the flaws that come with that line of reasoning. And for Miller, there is one of two ways you can approach this when you come to the realization that Everything is not awesome: “You can choose or like I’m going to prove that I’m grown up by being cynical and angry and detached, and gritty,” Miller said. “Or what we think is a more sophisticated and actually more mature thing is to choose to be kind, to choose to be positive, to choose to be.”
In The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part, Finn is slightly older but has yet to mature. And while he shares the same love for LEGO as he does with his younger sister Bianca, the two don’t quite get along. So Lord and Miller both drew from their own experiences as brothers and with their own children as well.
And even know most brothers and sisters would find their siblings annoying, Lord wants everyone to walk away from the film knowing that they can be your greatest ally. My mom pulled me aside much later than I care to admit in my life, and said, ‘you know your sibling is your greatest ally. And don’t forget it, because we’re not going to be around as long as she is you know.”
And since LEGOs and movies can bring families together, what better way to celebrate siblinghood than The LEGO Movie 2. The highly anticipated sequel has all of the charms of the first, including some of those jokes that are tailor-made for kids and adults. That being said, they never want to make a joke for kids. “It ends up pandering and lowest common denominator and it ends up being something that parents are just checking their phones during,” Lord said. “The trick for us has been to approach all of our movies the same way, whether they’re a raunchy R-rated comedy or The LEGO Movie, and have it–right make a movie that we like. Luckily our sensibilities are immature enough that kids seem to go along with it. And the only difference is that we don’t put bad words in these.”
The two credit a lot of that to Monty Python and Steve Martin movies. Lord says their work appealed to him because “the people who made them were intelligent and that they were playful and that there was a kind of impish joy in them.”
Lord and Miller come a really long way since working on MTV’s short-lived animated show Clone High. The two first started out making short films in college, and when Lord was being a “mooch” as Miller was interning at ILM, they had a very cheesy moment at Quote Tower. Miller recounted a moment when Lord told him “We should come out to California when we graduate, and try to make TV and movies.” Lord added, “I remember us looking at ourselves and I mean like I think we can do this.”
Miller says it was an embarrassing moment because it was so cheesy at the time. However, Lord told him “don’t be ashamed, be proud of who you are.”
While it did take 22 years, the two reminded us about the importance of believing in ourselves. Lord points out that there may be some challenges and some talent required, but as Miller says that as long as everyone you collaborate with is “all headed in the same direction, working together can, you can grab great ideas from anywhere and put them together into something special.”
One of those ideas came from simple observation. Watching what Pratt has become now, the two thought it would be great if the sequel would tackle themes of maturity. “You have boundless creativity that nobody’s shaming you about, right,” Miller said. “And then you get a little bit older, and, you know you then also take on this more performative adult version of yourself. And what the world asks you. And then–you get into situations where you need to be tough and you get, you take on scars and you have to fall down and get back up.”
He adds, “as boys, like we learn a certain kind of like performative, you know, like masculinity that then is out of phase with this little dude that you were. And so then a lot of your adult life is like trying to resolve these two things. Like you’re supposed to be this, but you’re really that.”
Though films try not to be too preachy, Miller says there is a lot that younger members of the audience can walk away from after watching The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part. Particularly, the boys, maturity is a part of growing up and even though there are a few bumps in the road, it will make them a better person. “We’re really, you know, we’re all afraid of having broken hearts. And a lot of our behavior is about that,” Miller said. And once you realize that having a broken heart is just like it happens all the time anyway, you might as well not be afraid of it. And the real–the real danger is that you will stop like being vulnerable. You’ll stop being generous because you’re afraid that that, it will happen to you again. And when you stop being afraid, right when the worst thing that can happen to you happens, like OK great like she didn’t want to go to the prom with me, you know?”
The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part opens in theaters on February 8, 2019.