The world has lost yet another influential comedic talent whose work has been key to the modern evolution of the genre on the big screen. On February 12, 2022, Ivan Reitman passed away at the age of 75, leaving behind a golden legacy as the writer and/or director of some of the funniest and, simply, most fun films of all time, including the original Ghostbusters and plenty more.
Following the beloved filmmaker’s death, his son, Jason Reitman - a successful filmmaker himself - said that “nothing would make him happier” than to “enjoy his movies and remember his storytelling gifts.” As our own tribute, that is exactly we intend to do. The following are some of the best Ivan Reitman movies with a tip on how to watch them on streaming, as a digital rental, or on physical media.
Ghostbusters And Ghostbusters II (1984, 1989)
Four men (Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson) - three of whom are former parapsychologists - team up and start a business using experimental technology to rid New York City of bizarre threats from beyond the grave.
Why they are great Ivan Reitman movies: Written by stars Aykroyd and Ramis (who passed away in 2014), Ghostbusters is, arguably, Ivan Reitman’s defining and most inspirational work as a director, spawning an even stranger sequel (Ghostbusters II), an all-female remake in 2016, and a third installment that saw the filmmaker’s son take the reigns in 2021.
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Rent/buy Ghostbusters II digitally on Amazon (opens in new tab).
Buy Ghostbusters And Ghostbusters II on DVD/Blu-ray on Amazon (opens in new tab).
An irresponsible, womanizing summer camp counselor (Bill Murray) decides to turn over a new leaf and tries to help his younger campers break their longtime losing streak at the annual Camp Olympics.
Why it is a great Ivan Reitman movie: Before Ghostbusters took off, the first time Ivan Reitman directed Bill Murray was in Meatballs - just about the craziest and raunchiest coming-of-age comedy set at a summer camp ever made.
A pair of irresponsible, dissatisfied grown men (Bill Murray and Harold Ramis) decide to turn over a new leaf and enlist in the United States Army, but the experience proves to be a little more than they bargained for.
Why it is a great Ivan Reitman movie: The second time Ivan Reitman directed Bill Murray (and the first time he directed Harold Ramis) was in Stripes - easily the craziest and raunchiest satire about war ever made.
Legal Eagles (1986)
A womanizing New York City district attorney (Academy Award winner Robert Redford) teams up with a no-nonsense defense lawyer (Academy Award nominee Debra Winger) on a case involving an attractive woman wrongfully accused of murder (Daryl Hannah), that becomes even more sinister upon further investigation.
Why it is a great Ivan Reitman movie: After Ghostbusters, Ivan Reitman went in a very different direction with Legal Eagles - a notably breezy take on the courtroom drama genre with a stellar starring cast that is not without its own thrills and suspense, either.
After discovering that he has a twin brother, a man who was created to be a physically and mentally perfect specimen (Arnold Schwarzenegger) sets out to find his long lost sibling, who turns to be a 4’10” wise guy (Danny DeVito) with a tremendous loan debt that puts his life in danger.
Why it is a great Ivan Reitman movie: The first time Ivan Reitman directed his friend Arnold Schwarzenegger, which would also be his first starring role in a comedy, was in Twins - a fun, inventive story about brotherly love that almost spawned a sequel called Triplets, in which Julius and Vincent would have discovered they have another brother played by Tracy Morgan.
Kindergarten Cop (1990)
A hard-hitting detective (Arnold Schwarzenegger) goes undercover as a teacher at an elementary school in order to find and protect the former wife and young son of a dangerous criminal.
Why it is a great Ivan Reitman movie: The second time Ivan Reitman directed Arnold Schwarzenegger, which saw the former bodybuilder utilize his strengths as both an action star and a comedy performer, was in Kindergarten Cop - a heartwarming fish-out-of-water tale that actually did spawn an unrelated, straight-to-video sequel starring Schwarzenegger’s Expendables co-star, Dolph Lundgren.
After their funding is cut, a scientist (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is convinced by his research partner (Danny DeVito) to try out their revolutionary fertility project on a new unlikely test subject: himself.
Why it is a great Ivan Reitman movie: The second time Ivan Reitman directed Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito together was in Junior - yet another inventive story about bizarre family matters that most definitely also qualifies as a fish-out-of-water tale of heartwarming proportions.
Six Days Seven Nights (1998)
An uptight magazine editor from New York (Anne Heche) enlists a grumpy pilot (Harrison Ford) to fly her to a nearby island to cover a big story, but must overcome their mutual disdain for one another when their plane crashes and leaves them stranded on an island inhabited with dangerous creatures.
Why it is a great Ivan Reitman movie: Another action star whom Ivan Reitman directed to amusing comedic effect was Harrison Ford, opposite Anne Heche, in the adventurous romantic comedy, Six Days Seven Nights, which also stars David Schwimmer from the Friends cast and The Book of Boba Fett star Temuera Morrison.
Initially hired to be a momentary stand-in for the President of the United States, a temp agency operator who happens to be a dead ringer for the Commander in Chief (Academy Award winner Kevin Kline) suddenly has to do the job for real when his doppelgänger suffers a massive stroke.
Why it is a great Ivan Reitman movie: Also starring Sigourney Weaver as the First Lady and with a cameo by Arnold Schwarzenegger as himself, Dave is one of the few political satires with a refreshing sense of joy, optimism, and even a little romance, that may also be Ivan Reitman’s smartest achievement.
A pair of college professors (David Duchovny and Orlando Jones), a stern government scientist (Julianne Moore), and a wannabe firefighter (Seann William Scott) team up against an extraterrestrial organism that begins to rapidly change in size and species the moment it suddenly falls to Earth in a meteor.
Why it is a great Ivan Reitman movie: Nearly two-decades after making one of the great sci-fi comedies of all time with Ghostbusters, Ivan Reitman would tackle that subgenre once again with Evolution - an underrated and clever gem that also sees David Duchovny poking fun at his own career as a sci-fi star from playing Fox Mulder on The X-Files.
Draft Day (2014)
Personal matters and a pressing desire to save the state of football in Cleveland complicate things for a general manager (Academy Award winner Kevin Costner) as he runs out of time to decide which up-and-coming athletes to add to his team.
Why it is a great Ivan Reitman movie: For what would become his final feature-length directorial effort, Ivan Reitman offers a tense, often gripping look at the inside world of football in Draft Day, starring someone who is certainly no stranger to sports movies, Kevin Costner.
Considering how his career was predominantly quirky, lighthearted comedies, it seems a little unusual to see a serious sports drama show up on the list of Ivan Reitman’s best movies. However, that sort of surprise is just what made him such a special filmmaker who always sought to reinvent himself and try something new, daring, or bizarre at every chance. You only find that kind of will and versatility in a handful of filmmakers every so often and, for that and many other reasons, Reitman will be dearly missed.
Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in just about any article related to Batman.
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