Ivan Reitman was a staple of ’80s cinema and directed some of the most memorable titles of the era, including movies like Stripes and the iconic Ghostbusters and its sequel. He also produced the 1978 comedy classic Animal House, as well as well-remembered ’90s movies like Beethoven, Space Jam, and Private Parts.
Later, Ivan Reitman’s son, Jason Reitman, would become an indie film-darling, especially after his Oscar-worthy film Juno, which won Best Original Screenplay. Jason Reitman has built a career on quirky intimate dramedies, much different from what his father did. However, with the son directing the upcoming Ghostbusters movie, everything has come full circle. Here are some of the best movies from this father and son duo.
10 Ivan Reitman: Meatballs
In 1979, Meatballs accomplished two things. It established Ivan Reitman as a director in the United States (he was already making movies in Canada) and allowed Bill Murray to appear in his first starring role. The comedy was so popular it became the highest-grossing film from Canada that year.
It also allowed Ivan Reitman to become known as a comedy director who is still going strong today. Meatballs was a camp comedy, which was a popular subgenre at the time. It spawned several sequels that unfortunately lacked the presence of Murray.
9 Jason Reitman: Young Adult
Jason Reitman’s first collaboration with Charlize Theron was the 2011 dramedy Young Adult. It was also a reunion between Reitman and Oscar-winning screenwriter Diablo Cody, who came up with the idea for the film after being asked often in interviews about her “fixation” on teenage stories.
The movie follows Mavis, a 37-year-old writer of young adult fiction who thinks her future is back in the town where she grew up. It is quirky in the same way other works Cody and Reitman have worked on, but Theron adds a new dimension to their characters.
8 Ivan Reitman: Kindergarten Cop
For those who are still young and happened to have seen that gif of Arnold Schwarzenegger shouting at the top of his lungs “shut up!”, here is where it comes from. 1990’s Kindergarten Cop was one of those ’90s films that saw Arnold trying to expand his range from action star to comedy actor.
This film, in particular, received mixed reviews when it was first released but it’s remembered very fondly by fans of the actor since it demonstrated the Austrian guy who played The Terminator had some comedy chops.
7 Jason Reitman: Tully
A spiritual sequel to Young Adult, Tully is the return of the “hipster” trifecta of Reitman, Theron, and Cody. This time, the trio tried to tackle the topic of motherhood through Theron’s character Marlo, an overwhelmed parent of three who seeks the help of a night nanny: The titular Tully.
The film received some flack about its depiction of post-partum depression since it never actually addressed it. However, Theron’s performance was praised for her subtle expression of the character’s inner journey.
6 Ivan Reitman: Dave
After the success of A Fish Called Wanda, Kevin Kline was one of the most recognizable actors around. After all, it granted him an Oscar win. Through the ’90s, he would establish himself as a star, which is why Kline was picked for the part of Dave, a president impersonator who must take the actual leadership of the country.
Ivan Reitman was approached by Warren Beatty, who was actually going to take the principal role. The film was a hit with critics and audiences. Its set of the oval office was used several times by other productions in later years.
5 Jason Reitman: Juno
The 2007 Oscar-darling surpassed all expectations when it was released. Juno, the independent dramedy about a teenager dealing with an unplanned pregnancy, received all kinds of accolades and praise from critics, especially Ellen Page’s performance as the titular character and the screenplay by Diablo Cody.
Juno was the first collaboration between Reitman and Cody, and it is still probably their most resonant film. At the time of its release, the movie pointed attention to the pro-life vs pro-choice debate, sparking interesting conversations about the thorny topic.
4 Ivan Reitman: Stripes
Starting as a Cheech and Chong vehicle that would put the legendary comedy duo in the army, Reitman decided to rewrite the script when the comics wanted to take all creative control. In the new version of the movie, the principal roles were given to Bill Murray and a then new-comer Harold Ramis.
Much of Stripes was improvised by Murray and Ramis on the spot, which was encouraged by Reitman. The film demonstrated the talents of these actors who were at their comedy peaks at the time.
3 Jason Reitman: Up In The Air
After the success of Juno, Reitman would go on to work with George Clooney in Up In The Air, a film more dramatic than his previous ones but that still maintains his characteristic charm. Based on the novel of the same name by Walter Kim, the film was a critical darling.
Clooney plays a “downsized,” a person who travels around the United States firing people from companies that don’t want to deal with the firing themselves. The movie tackles themes of commitment and personal philosophies.
2 Ivan Reitman: Ghostbusters
It seems that Ghostbusters was destined to be a comedy-horror classic from the start. From its director to the cast and its writing, everything converges into one of the most successful comedies of all time. The film also was notable for being one of the first comedies to make use of heavy special effects.
The story was conceived by Dan Aykroyd and was meant to feature Jim Belushi. After the latter’s death, the script was rewritten in conjunction with Harold Ramis and developed to add all the usual collaborators like Reitman and Murray.
1 Jason Reitman: Thank You For Smoking
Jason Reitman’s first movie was a poignant satire about the tobacco industry, driven by a stellar performance by Aaron Eckhart. Reitman sought to direct the movie and wrote a script for Mel Gibson’s production company Icon Productions, which had the movie rights of the book the film was based on.
Interestingly enough, Elon Musk has a credit in the movie as an executive producer since the COO of PayPal at the time (a company Musk was part of its creation), David O. Sacks, financed the film.
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