Could Chris Miller and Phil Lord’s ‘Ghostbusters 3’ Actually Feel Like a ‘Ghostbusters’ Movie?

Directors Chris Miller and Phil LordColumbia Pictures via Everett Collection

If there’s something strange with your sequel, and your director drops out and it don’t look good, who are you gonna call? Well, if you’re the team behind the perpetually in-development Ghostbusters 3, you call Chris Miller and Phil Lord, the duo behind The Lego Movie and 21 Jump Street . The pair is reportedly in talks to helm the film after Ivan Reitman recently stepped down. Since they have yet to officially sign on, it’s unclear whether the change in directors will affect the proposed 2015 release date, although if Miller and Lord plan on making any adjustments to Etan Cohen’s script, it could mean that fans will need to wait even longer to finally see Ghostbusters 3.

Miller and Lord’s successful track record might not be enough to satisfy all fans, especially those who want Ghostbusters 3 to have the same style and tone as the first two. Miller and Lord have a very distinct directorial style and all of the films they’ve made – regardless of whether they wrote the script or not – bear their signature. The pair does have a lot in common with Reitman and the original team, which could help that Ghostbusters tone to remain in place, but those key stylistic differences could keep Ghostbusters 3 from slotting neatly into the lineup, even if it is a major success. So, how do Miller and Lord’s directorial trademarks match up with the Ghostbusters films? Let’s take a look:

One of the trademarks of a Miller and Lord production is manic pace. Their jokes fly at the audience rapid-fire, cramming as many gags as possible into a single scene. Ghostbusters, meanwhile, takes its time with its jokes, and isn’t afraid to draw out a long scene for a really good punch line. Part of this is likely due to the amount of ad-libbing that the actors have done, resulting in a film that feels loose and laid-back. 

Pop Culture References
Miller and Lord love a good pop culture reference – think the Batman song in The Lego Movie, or the way the mere mention of Glee becomes a running joke in 21 Jump Street, or the entire premise of Clone High – which is something they share with the Ghostbusters crew (the climax of the movie centered on a popular advertising mascot destroying a city). Of course, Miller and Lord manage to pack about 50 times more references into their projects than Reitman ever has, but it appears that Miller and Lord tend to draw comedy from many of the same sources as the Ghostbusters films, which is a good sign for this potential partnership.

Visual Gags
Another good sign is the fact that Miller and Lord tend to utilize sight gags in much the same way that the Ghostbusters films do. Again, they probably appear with a bit more frequency, but it’s another way that the two find humor in the same places. In order to overcome the difference pace with which the pair use these visual gags, they will likely have to rely on Cohen’s script, but in the end, Miller and Lord’s skill with visual gags should make them a great fit for the film.

Although Miller and Lord aren’t afraid to get goofy with their characters or jokes, there’s always a level of self-awareness that adds another dimension of humor to their work. They’re always willing to parody themselves or the genre that they’re working in, and a similar kind of wry self-awareness exists in the Ghostbusters films. The films are never afraid to point out when the characters or situations are getting a little ridiculous, which is part of what makes them not only enjoyable, but also helps them appeal to a wider range of audience. Miller and Lord should have no problem imbuing their Ghostbusters installment with much the same tone, which would help them overcome some of the stylistic disparities that still remain.

The Lego Movie, VitruviusWarner Bros via Everett Collection

One such key instance where Miller and Lord’s style differs from that of the Ghostbusters films is on the issue of character development. On Clone High, they sacrificed a lot of character continuity in favor of independent jokes, which worked perfectly for that kind of show. 21 Jump Street and The Lego Movie used characters in a similar way, though to a lesser extent. Sure, they had their fair share of witty one-liners and goofy punchlines, but they existed in the film, and the Ghostbusters universe, as actual people, rather than a way to fill the runtime with jokes. 

Use of Music
The Ghostbusters theme is perhaps the greatest film theme song in history. Luckily, Miller and Lord know their way around a musical number, as almost all of their projects have featured at least one instance of characters singing and dancing. Of course, Ghostbusters 3 is probably not the best venue for a big musical number, but the pair are also skilled at using music cues to brilliant comedic effect, which is likely the route they would take with this film. After all, what’s the point of having a theme song that epic if you’re not going to use it?

You can’t have a Ghostbusters film without the ghosts, and the best way for them to show up onscreen is animation. With Clone High, The Lego Movie, and two Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs films under their belt, Miller and Lord have more than enough experience with animation to take on the cast of ridiculous, hilarious and sometimes terrifying ghosts. Although their animated features have all been targeted at children, they have been equally appealing to adults, which means that Ghostbusters fans don’t have to worry about the film being dumbed-down or made into a kid’s movie simply because of the animation. Plus, anyone who has ever seen Clone High can attest that these two know how to make smart, goofy, adult-friendly cartoons.

If you’re looking for even more overlaps between Miller and Lord and the Ghostbusters films, look no further than the ghost of Vitruvius, who delivered the funniest scene in The Lego Movie. You want ridiculous, funny, sarcastic ghosts? These are your guys.