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Todd Phillips, WTF?

PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2011 1:22 pm
by King Of Nowhere
Was just listening to Smodcast Internet Radio & found out about this.

Not in a million years would you think the guy who made Road Trip, Old School, Starsky & Hutch, Due Date and The Hangover was responsible for Hated: GG & The Murder Junkies.

Re: Todd Phillips, WTF?

PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2011 2:26 pm
by Fievel
Yeah, I knew of him as the director of the Phish documentary Bittersweet Motel. So when he came out with Old School it shocked the shit out of me.

Re: Todd Phillips, WTF?

PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2011 2:34 pm
by Fried Gold
Isn't Ivan Reitman responsible for his change in...genre?

Re: Todd Phillips, WTF?

PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2011 1:30 am
by Tyrone_Shoelaces
A friend of mine bought Hated right after Old School came out because it was made by Phillips. It's pretty interesting. I hadn't heard of GG Allin until my freshman year of college when he pussed out on his threat to kill himself onstage by OD'ing on Heroin and "Spin" ran articles on him for three months. One of the extras on the DVD is video from his last show which quickly escalates into a small riot. The last thing you see is a nude and pissed off GG quickly walking down the street with his girlfriend while sirens get closer. He would die that night.

Re: Todd Phillips, WTF?

PostPosted: Sat Jun 04, 2011 9:45 pm
by Ribbons
Yes, haters, I stand by liking 'The Hangover Part II.' But is this really the best that director Todd Phillips can do?

Owen Gleiberman, Inside Movies wrote:The Hangover Part II may have had the biggest opening five-day haul of any comedy in history, but the collective Internet/media/spectator-snark voice has spoken, and the verdict is not pretty. The Hangover Part II, it is said, reduces the first Hangover to a transparently contrived formula; it’s a cookie-cutter comedy, way too safe and pat; it doesn’t do anything that’s really unpredictable; it’s more of the same; and beyond that (did I mention this point yet?), it’s more of the same. To which I can only react by asking: And you were expecting the movie to be what, exactly…?

Two summers ago, if you happened to think that The Hangover was one of the funniest movies you’d ever seen, I guess it makes sense that you’d find The Hangover Part II a lot less fresh, wild, and original, less full of the shock and surprise that a great comedy thrives on. There’s no question that The Hangover Part II is, at heart, a cookie-cutter movie (though I would say it’s a good one). Here’s the thing: To me, the original Hangover was a cookie-cutter movie, too, and in a fairly obvious way. The moment that Phil, Stu, and Alan woke up in that Vegas hotel room in their groggy-druggy morning-after daze, the implication is that they must have been involved in some extremely crazed and dangerous stuff — but as each clue got explained, the picture was revealed to be a series of very standard sitcom mixups played in reverse. It became apparent, roughly halfway through, that the movie was completely formulaic (albeit in a breezy likable way). So how can you make a sequel to a comedy that’s that rigidly engineered and come up with anything that’s less than cookie-cutter?

Okay, we could probably debate this all day. But here’s what can’t be debated: Todd Phillips (pictured above), the director of The Hangover and The Hangover Part II, has become Hollywood’s new king of comedy. He now has the clout, the high visibility (he’s shrewd about exploiting his reptilian hipster vibe in cameo appearances in his own movies), the fanboy following, and the mainstream stylistic stamp (“A Todd Phillips Movie”) to do more or less whatever he wants. And that leads me to the real question of this post: What, aside from The Hangover Part III, does Todd Phillips really want to do? He’s a very talented director, with a sixth sense for how to make people laugh. Yet does he have any desire to become, you know, a more organic artist of screen comedy? By which I mean: Would he ever like to make a mainstream comedy that really takes a chance?

In the interests of disclosure, a little background. I was friendly with Todd for a few years in the ’90s, before he went off to Hollywood (I’ve had no contact with him since), and when he did, I was thrilled to see his ascent. Back when I knew him, he was a wickedly witty straight shooter (and a very nice guy) who idolized Howard Stern and had a boundless appetite for stuff that was funny and darkly subversive at the same time. He had a thing for comedy that rose up from the edge of reality. (That’s why he dug the vérité spectacle of walking outrages like Al Goldstein.) I got to know Todd around the time that he showed his first film, the 1994 documentary Hated (made as his senior thesis at NYU), about the scandalously depraved punk rocker GG Allin, and I began to follow his work, taking a particular interest in Frat House, his funny and scary exposé of fraternity hazing rituals.

It was at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival, where Frat House premiered, that a bit of Hollywood history was made. Ivan Reitman was there, because his son Jason (who would go on to direct Juno and Up in the Air) had his own first short film in the festival, and Phillips seized the opportunity to introduce himself to Ivan Reitman and pitch him on the spot. He said, in essence: I want to make a movie that brings back the 1980s. The bawdiness and the rowdy joy. The spirit of Animal House.

The pitch worked. Two years later, with Reitman serving as producer, Phillips left the world of indie documentaries behind to make his first Hollywood movie, Road Trip (2000). I thought it was the perfect way for an eager young filmmaker to show off his chops, to create a sense of fun, and to prove his commercial mettle. When the movie came out, I gave Road Trip a B and had this to say about it:

“No one could have guessed that the grade-Z Animal House clones would one day be remembered as hip, dumb touchstones and fondly recycled in movies like American Pie and the clever, shallow, genially vulgar Road Trip. The new models, if anything, are superior to the old — smartly paced studio machines stocked with gifted young actors who love to clown… The very title Road Trip has a basic-goods, ’80s-nostalgia flavor; it hints that the movie is going to revel in its high-concept, lowbrow glory. The director, Todd Phillips, is careful not to break any taboos that haven’t already been thoroughly pre-smashed; he stages the movie as a series of flip, naughty but not too naughty set pieces.”

I was probably being a bit churlish. Over the years, I’ve caught bits and pieces of Road Trip on TV again, and it always makes me grin. I love DJ Qualls doing his oh-no-he-didn’t nerd-dance to Run–D.M.C.’s “It’s Tricky,” and a handful of other scenes. Road Trip is the definition of a movie that is what it is — in this case, an affectionate non-ironic flashback to ’80s schlock. It was the perfect entry point for a shrewd novice who understood that Hollywood had become a great, big recycling bin. But though I always expected Todd Phillips to be successful, it never occurred to me that he would do so by basing his entire career on recycling that same ’80s vibe — the now all-but-officially sanctioned slob humor and faux-naughtiness, the guys will be guys stupido high jinks, the how-smart-can-we-be-about-being-dumb VHS-era nostalgia.

Okay, you say, what’s wrong with that? Well, for one thing, it gives all of Phillips’ movies a slightly synthetic quality. That may be appropriate when he’s doing a stylized lark like Old School (2003), or even a low-camp Cheez Doodle like Starsky & Hutch (2004), but I really became aware of the limitations that Phillips was bumping up against when I saw the first film he made after The Hangover — Due Date (2010), the road-trip buddy comedy that paired Robert Downey Jr. as a short-fused architect struggling to get back to L.A. before his wife gives birth and Zach Galifianakis as a metaphysically annoying dim-bulb loser-schlub. It’s the kind of movie we’ve all seen a million times before, but Phillips staged it beautifully, letting the actors perform in their own rhythms, so that their hate chemistry came to a hilarious slow boil. It was an impeccably executed high-concept movie…and yet, when it was over, I thought: It never transcended being a high-concept movie. I mean, what can you say when a very talented director, coming off his biggest hit, makes what is arguably his most personal film to date, and it’s basically just a hipper, less bumptious version of Planes, Trains & Automobiles?

What I wonder about Todd Phillips is that, in buying so fully into the ethos of the ’80s, did he also buy — a little too much — into the Hollywood mentality that was born at the time, the one that said: Give the people what they want, over and over again, and watch success at the box office become its own reward. Personally, I’m cheered that Phillips is so successful, but what I’d love to see him do now is to make a movie that breaks off into a more naturalistic behavioral zone, the way that the best Judd Apatow-produced comedies, like Superbad and Bridesmaids, have done. I’d also love to see him make a movie that goes deeper into the outrageousness I know he has in him. Probably the funniest sequence in The Hangover Part II is the one where Stu discovers what he was up to in the back room of a Bangkok strip club. The dialogue is, almost literally, balls-out hilarious, but the only trouble with a scene like that one is that it suddenly sets the bar very high. The movie would have done well to deliver half a dozen more laughs on that same level of I-can’t-believe-what-I’m-hearing.
Of course, Todd Phillips doesn’t need my advice. He’s running his career just fine. The question he should ask himself is: Now that he’s the king of comedy, does he simply want to go on and on in his cautiously quasi-outrageous pre-chewed-for-middle-class-consumption I love the ’80s way? Does he just want to rule? Or does he truly want to rock?

Did you think The Hangover Part II was a dud, or (like me) do you think that the people who went into it expecting something “different” went to the wrong film? And what’s your favorite Todd Phillips movie? What do you think is his defining feature as a comedy director…apart from the obvious fact that his movies are, you know, funny?

Re: Todd Phillips, WTF?

PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2011 5:14 pm
by DerLanghaarige
Never saw HATED, which means that for me, ROAD TRIP is his best movie.

Re: Todd Phillips, WTF?

PostPosted: Mon Jul 25, 2011 7:56 pm
by TheButcher
Todd Phillips options Rolling Stone 'Dudes' - 'Hangover' helmer to produce, possibly direct pic based on 'Arms' articl
Jeff Sneider wrote:VARIETY EXCLUSIVE:
Todd Phillips' Green Hat Films banner has optioned feature film rights to Guy Lawson's Rolling Stone article "Arms and the Dudes," which will be developed as a potential directing vehicle for Phillips.

Phillips and Scott Budnick will produce the project, which follows two stoners who became major arms dealers. Mark Gordon and Bryan Zuriff will also produce for The Mark Gordon Company.

Story, which appeared in the March 31, 2011 issue of Rolling Stone, chronicled the tale of David Packouz and Efraim Diveroli, who won a $300 million contract from the Pentagon to arm America's allies in Afghanistan. Duo made 85 deliveries of munitions to Afghanistan worth more than $66 million before their arms-dealing careers were cut short when federal agents raided their Miami Beach offices in Aug. 2007, culminating in 71 counts of fraud.

Phillips is coming off the global success of "The Hangover Part II," which has grossed more than $562 million worldwide since opening over Memorial Day weekend. While Phillips hasn't found his next directing vehicle yet, his next pic as a producer is Nima Nourizadeh's teen comedy "Project X," which Budnick exec produced and Warner Bros. will release early next year.

Re: Todd Phillips, WTF?

PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2012 8:41 pm
by TheButcher

Re: Todd Phillips, WTF?

PostPosted: Fri Sep 05, 2014 3:42 am
by TheButcher
Warner Bros Has Jesse Eisenberg, Shia LaBeouf In Crosshairs For ‘Arms & The Dudes’
Mike Fleming Jr wrote:
Warner Bros and Todd Phillips are starting to get serious about Arms & The Dudes, the film about two stoners who become arms dealers. Talks are about to get underway with Jesse Eisenberg and Shia LaBeouf to star in a film that Phillips will direct about the two unlikeliest arms dealers who got a $300 million contract to supply weapons for its allies in Afghanistan. They soon found themselves in danger abroad and in trouble back home because they were completely out of their depth. The pic is based on a Rolling Stone article by Guy Lawson and Phillips has been working on it for years under his Green Hat banner; it becomes the first major project since he joined forces with Bradley Cooper. Mark Gordon is also producing and Bryan Zuriff is exec producer. Jason Smilovic is writing the script with Phillips.