The names Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are synonymous with the freshest comedies with the most cynical premises.
So far, Lord and Miller have adapted a picture book into an animated send-off to disaster movies, made a cop drama into a chaotic action-comedy flick, turned a toy commercial into a solid animated movie, and reinvented a beloved superhero into one much fresher.
Their ability to reinvent IPs while inserting their clever style of humor have made them into an iconic creative duo—but more than that, they're now seen as a reliable brand for empowering movies and TV shows.
Here are our picks for the best movies made by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller that spotlight their genius capabilities.
9. Storks (2016)
Lord and Miller was part of the "think tank" for Warner Animation Group, and one of the projects they produced was Storks, a movie that took on the lore of storks delivering babies.
It follows an ambitious stork named Junior (voiced by Andy Samberg) who, along with a human worker named Tulip, must deliver a baby that's been requested by a family.
On the surface, Storks might look like your typical kid's movie filled with silly gags and slapstick. But once you look past that, it shows itself as subtly ingenious in its execution.
From the storks performing mail courier services to a pack of wolves transforming into different modes of transportation, there's a lot of creativity that went into this film. And, most importantly, it never forgets to have heart and humor in the right places.
8. Brigsby Bear (2017)
Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are frequent collaborators with Andy Samberg and his Lonely Island troupe. Did you know that they directed the pilot episode for the hit TV comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine?
And, strangely, they also produced the Sundance Film Festival gem Brigsby Bear, which follows a young adult named James (played by Kyle Mooney) who was kidnapped as a baby but returns to his real family.
Finding a hard time adjusting to his life, James shares his passion for his self-made show Brigsby Bear and plans to make a movie to finish the story.
The film is a sincere love letter to nostalgic children's programming that ends up being moving without being cynical. On top of that, Brigsby Bear is a great movie for inspiring young filmmakers.
7. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs (2009)
Loosely based on the children's book by Judi and Ron Barrett, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs centers on a town called Chewandswallow—a town that experiences food-based weather.
It follows Flint (voiced by Bill Hader), the inventor of the machine that's been causing this strange phenomenon, and his attempts to stop it from creating even worse food storms. Overall, the animated flick is literally eye candy, complete with food gags and disaster movie homages.
However, this was Lord and Miller's directorial debut that acted as a testing ground for the duo. After numerous firings over its story demands, the movie taught the duo of the power of collaboration and emotional arcs. Lord and Miller fans can thank this flick for that!
6. 22 Jump Street (2014)
After the unexpected success of 21 Jump Street, Lord and Miller delivered yet another homerun with an equally riotous sequel.
22 Jump Street finds Schmidt and Jenko up against another mission, this time infiltrating a college and uncovering a secret drug ring that's suspected of being behind a student's murder. Per usual, hijinks ensue.
Lord and Miller took what worked in the first Jump Street and amped up the fun to new heights, with the best element still being the chemistry between leads Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum.
The two made Schmidt and Jenko grow as bromantic partners, even as they deal with the same madcap misadventures. But the cherry on top is its meta comedy, most especially its hilariously iconic end credits.
5. The LEGO Batman Movie (2017)
With such a consistent track record, Lord and Miller could easily helm DC projects, Marvel projects, or both. Well, at least with animation. Their clever sense of humor works for superhero homages in that form, and the best example of this would be The LEGO Batman Movie.
Sure, it's a spin-off of The LEGO Movie that centers on its version of Batman, but this full-on Batman spoof of a film somehow ends up feeling like an actual Batman movie.
LEGO Batman (voiced by Will Arnett) brings in Robin (voiced by Michael Cera) and Barbara Gordon (voiced by Rosario Dawson) to stop a scheming Joker (voiced by Zack Galifianakis). What a cast!
You'll find tons of Batman, DC, and other pop culture Easter eggs in this film, and they don't distract from the plentiful laughs throughout.
4. 21 Jump Street (2012)
The idea for an R-rated action-comedy version of an 80s cop TV drama series was... absurd. But after several lackluster TV-to-movie adaptations, Lord and Miller made it happen with 21 Jump Street.
Its success was rooted in Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum's performances, with Tatum stretching his comedic chops with Jenko's jock-like attitude while Hill bounced hilariously back and forth between straight man and loose cannon.
The rest of the likable cast (particularly an outrageous Brie Larson) helped make the plot work, which involved the two lead cops going undercover as high school students. It was odd for Lord and Miller to go from Cloudy to this, but they made it work!
3. The Mitchells vs. The Machines (2021)
The Mitchells vs. The Machines might look like your typical animated road trip movie turned humans-versus-technology tale, but it's more.
The story basically centers on aspiring filmmaker Katie (voiced by Abbi Jacobson) who's dragged off by her dad (voiced by Danny McBride) and her family on a road trip to drop her off at college, only for everything to go haywire—and the journey is more than rewarding.
Creativity is baked into this movie. Using the same 2D-style 3D animation from Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, we get a storybook feel that incorporates various animation mediums. Colorful, hilarious, and poignant, The Mitchells vs. The Machines is one great trip.
2. The LEGO Movie (2014)
Back in 2013, any moviegoer would've been skeptical at the idea of a theatrical animated LEGO film. But Lord and Miller surprised everyone with the thrillingly amazing The LEGO Movie.
On the surface, it's yet another "chosen one" story, this time about an average construction LEGO named Emmet (voiced by Chris Pratt) who stumbles into a hero's journey to stop a tyrannical leader named Lord Business (voiced by Will Ferrell) from wrecking their LEGO world.
Lord and Miller's attention to heart and humor is what elevated this feature-length LEGO commercial. With sharp animation, fun characters, and a solid emotional core, this is everything awesome.
1. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)
A cinematic animated take on Spider-Man? Oh, that's too easy and franchise-friendly—at least, that's what most of us thought before we actually got to see Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
What we ended up getting wasn't just an ingenious superhero movie, but one of the best animated movies of the decade. Sure, they might've been "only" producers for this film, but Lord and Miller have their heart and humor scattered all throughout, start to finish.
For all the grandeur and spectacular animation, the beloved characters, the thrilling action, and the wall-to-wall Easter eggs, the success of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse rests in its core story.
The origin of Miles Morales (voiced by Shameik Moore) is familiar, yet it's executed with such elegance and craft that it elevates the essence of Spider-Man and makes him grow throughout. This living-and-breathing comic book shall live on as a masterpiece!