The 10 Films Of Todd Phillips: Ranked
The American film-maker Todd Phillips has made a name for himself in Hollywood and beyond for his raunchy style of movie-making. His movies are usually extremely funny, bordering on slapstick, but also with some intelligent comedy thrown in. They would make for great flicks to watch during this lockdown period, being light and funny and allowing people to take their mind off things for a couple of hours or so. With that in mind, here are his top ten films in the order of his best films to his least liked film:
1. The Hangover (2009)
Phillips had directed a few movies before signing on for this movie, but it is the one that shot him to global fame and is probably his most successful one as well. It is based on a real-life story that happened to Tripp Vinson (a friend of executive producer Chris Bender) during a trip to a VIP casino in Las Vegas during his bachelor party. The original story – of three friends who ‘misplace’ the groom at his own bachelor party and then must find him – was sold to Warner Bros. for more than $2 million, with Phillips and Jeremy Garelick extensively re-writing the script to include other elements, including a bizarre subplot involving boxer Mike Tyson and his pet tiger.
2. Joker (2019)
No, this movie is not one of Phillips’ light-hearted comedies – it’s a nightmarish cross between Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver (1976) and The King of Comedy (1976) while taking inspiration a lot from Alan Moore’s graphic novel The Killing Joke (1988) as well. Although an origin story for the Batman villain known as The Joker, it’s not considered part of the DC Extended Universe; Phillips’ film is its own beast, with a gritty aesthetic and a tortured Joaquin Phoenix performance that recalls John McNaughton’s Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986) more than any other kind of superhero film. Phoenix’s turn as the Joker is phenomenal, earning him an Academy Award for Best Actor, and Phillips’ writing and direction, while not without their faults, were major facilitators for this film’s success.
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3. The Hangover Part II (2011)
The sequel to 2009’s runaway hit was not as well-loved either by audiences or critics, but there are still laughs to be had, as well as some alluring shots of Thailand. Set two years after the first film, Stu Price (Ed Helms) tries to avoid repeating events from before by opting for a sober pre-wedding brunch – but things end up going bad for him regardless as he goes missing, and the rest of the gang try to find him in time for his wedding in Bangkok. Despite the on display, the film was not controversial in the Land of Smiles and in fact helped boost the country’s tourism.
4. Starsky and Hutch (2004)
Starsky and Hutch was probably Todd Phillips’ first venture to get noticed on a large scale, with Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson playing the eponymous police detective duo. It was an adaptation of the original action television show from the 1970s, and thus the film was set in that decade as well, but Phillips adds an ironic, postmodern twist that mocks the datedness of the era. It’s very much a product of the nostalgic TV remake boom of the mid-2000s, alongside Scooby Doo (2002) and The Dukes of Hazzard (2005), but it’s superior to those films thanks to the affable charm of Owen Wilson and the prickly Ben Stiller.
5. Road Trip (2000)
Road Trip was one of many sex comedies released following the gargantuan commercial success of Paul and Chris Weitz’s American Pie (1999) but has since been overshadowed by The Hangover series. It features Breckin Meyer as Josh, and Seann William Scott (who had shot to fame in the Weitz brothers’ film) as his best friend, and the story involves a group of friends who need to rush into a road trip to recover a sex tape mistakenly sent to Josh’s girlfriend.
6. Due Date (2010)
Phillips recruited his Hangover cast member Zach Galifianakis for this black comedy, while also getting newly-minted Avenger Robert Downey Jr. on board. It’s another road trip movie, with Downey Jr. having to travel across the country to be on time for the birth of his child, and thus being forced to share the ride with Galifianakis. Other notable stars include Jamie Foxx and Michelle Monaghan.
7. School for Scoundrels (2006)
This 2006 movie starring Billy Bob Thornton and Jon Heder is a remake of the 1960 film of the same name. Whereas the original, which was directed by Robert Hamer of Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949) fame, was very English in tone with Alastair Sim as the devious public school headteacher Dr. Potter, Todd Phillips’ remake features Billy Bob Thornton as a very American, very aggressive Dr. P., who slaps and shouts at Jon Heder’s character into becoming a more ‘manly’ figure for his love interest Amanda (Jacinda Barrett).
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8. Old School (2003)
Old School is one of those films which has gained a cult following in recent years, due to the mainstream success of many of the cast. The main cast included Luke Wilson, Vince Vaughn, Will Ferrell, Simon Helberg, Elisha Cuthbert, and Rob Corddry, all of whom were at the beginning of their careers but then found success in the comedy genre.
9. War Dogs (2016)
War Dogs is a biographical comedy about two arms dealers who receive a $300 million US Army contract to supply the Afghan National Army. Most of the events of the movie are heavily fictionalized and dramatized, and so it is the only biography in the loosest sense of the word. Jonah Hill and Miles Teller play the two arms dealers, with other notable cast members including Bradley Cooper and Ana de Armas.
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10. The Hangover Part III (2013)
The last movie in The Hangover trilogy was undoubtedly the weakest, despite it being a box-office success like the preceding two films. Set two years after the events of Part II, it follows the main cast as they try to get Alan’s life back on track, but events from the first movie catch up with them.