Ivan Reitman: remembering his 11 best movies

Hollywood is in mourning today for Ivan Reitman, the esteemed Ghostbusters director who has passed away at the age of 75. For more than two decades, Reitman turned out a string of successful and groundbreaking comedy movies that broke box office records and helped put new stars on the map. Just last year, Cineworld was delighted to invite Ivan to the Leicester Square screening of Ghostbusters: Afterlife, directed by his son Jason. Here are some screenshots from the event.

Ivan Reitman Ghosbusters: Afterlife

Ivan Reitman Ghosbusters: Afterlife

Ivan Reitman Ghosbusters: Afterlife


In celebration of this remarkable filmmaker, we've rounded up Ivan Reitman's eleven best movies, including his stints as both director and producer. Check out our list and don't forget to tweet us your own choices on social media.

1. Shivers (1975)

This early feature from David Cronenberg solidified his emphasis on 'body horror', a theme later articulated in the Oscar-winning likes of The Fly. It was also an early hit for credited producer Reitman who helped score Canada's biggest box office hit of that year. One must, therefore, credit Reitman with helping to get Cronenberg's singular and distinctively unsettling career off the ground.



2. Animal House (1978)

Saturday Night Live alumnus John Belushi delivers a career-defining performance as crude frat-boy Bluto in this quintessential college comedy. In the annals of the frat house sub-genre, Animal House still reigns supreme, marshalled by fledgling director John Landis (later of An American Werewolf in London fame) and produced by Reitman. The movie was co-written by Harold Ramis, later to become Reitman's partner-in-crime on Ghostbusters.



3. Heavy Metal (1981)

Reitman took another producing credit on this controversial animation, an adaptation of the sexually explicit and violent series of Heavy Metal graphic novels. Several stories are interwoven via the soaring theme of Reitman's regular collaborator Elmer Bernstein, and the starry voice cast includes John Candy and Harold Ramis. Although a box office flop on its initial release, Heavy Metal has subsequently become something of a cult classic.



4. Stripes (1981)

Now operating behind the camera, Reitman cemented his partnership with Saturday Night Liver alum Bill Murray, with whom he had first worked on 1979's Meatballs. Although many aspects of Stripes feel uncomfortably dated, Murray's characteristically deadpan performance is never in doubt, as he nails the essence of a slacker who joins the Army for a laugh. Once again, the disparate threads of the eventual Ghostbusters universe are in play as Reitman and Murray join forces with writer/actor Harold Ramis.



5. Ghostbusters (1984)

Reitman's most celebrated and successful movie remains one of the most popular comedies of all time. Upon its release, Ghostbusters laid waste to some sizeable box office competition, including Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom – and it's not hard to see why. Even today, the conceit spun by the writing/acting team of Harold Ramis and Dan Aykroyd is a corker: four New York schlubs taking a distinctly blue-collar, deadpan attitude to their emergent spook-busting business, which is further goosed by Bill Murray's inspired, largely improvised performance as the acerbic Pete Venkman. Mix that with some stupendous practical effects, memorable supporting performances (Sigourney Weaver; Rick Moranis), a healthy dose of creepy moments and Ray Parker Jr.'s kicking title song, and it's little wonder Ghostbusters endures.



6. Twins (1988)

Once upon a time, it was hard to imagine the pairing of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito. But such was Reitman's knack with unlikely comedy scenarios that he spun this chalk and cheese pairing into absolute gold. The physical disparity between estranged siblings Schwarzenegger and DeVito is exploited for plenty of laughs, but it also belies a genuine sweetness about brotherhood and sibling connections. Twins was a huge box office hit and led to a less-than-successful reunion in 1994's Junior.



7. Kindergarten Cop (1990)

Clearly inspired by his success with Twins, Schwarzenegger reunited with Reitman for this eminently quotable action-comedy. The full range of Arnie's facial contortions and animalistic grunts is in full swing as he plays a police detective sent undercover as a nursery teacher to help apprehend a notorious drug dealer. Once again, Reitman's knack for humanising ridiculous high-concept scenarios is clearly evident, and the success of Kindergarten Cop helped initiate Arnie's 1990s family comedy period.



8. Dave (1993)

American politics meets a farcical case of mistaken identity in Reitman's delightful and sweet-natured comedy-drama, one of his very best movies. When the American President suffers a stroke, Kevin Kline's ordinary schlub is ordered to take his place, and Sigourney Weaver's First Lady has no idea. The Frank Capra-esque premise, the idea of one ordinary Joe utilising extraordinary circumstances to try and do good, is further juiced by James Newton Howard's joyous and spirited score.



9. Space Jam (1996)

It was back to the producer's chair for Reitman for this hit mixture of live-action, Looney Tunes and basketball. Michael Jordan is a brand all unto himself in this blatant slice of product placement, albeit one with just enough visual invention and humour to get by. When Jordan is sucked into the world of the cartoon critters, he must help school them in a basketball match against their rivals, and if his acting skills leave something to be desired, we've always got the likes of Bugs Bunny to act as a distraction.



10. Up in the Air (2009)

Reitman produced his son Jason's incisive and ironic take on the concept of a life without baggage. George Clooney gives an acclaimed, Oscar-nominated performance as a man ostracized from any kind of personal responsibility to the extent that his morally vacuous job extends to travelling around the country to personally fire people. However, his philosophy is upended by the presence of assistant Anna Kendrick and love interest Vera Farmiga, with both of Clooney's co-stars also attaining nominations.



11. Hitchcock (2012)

One of Reitman's final credits was another producer role. He helped establish this quirky take on the life of the legendary Alfred Hitchcock, more specifically, the making of Hitchcock's seminal slasher horror Psycho. The movie is directed by Sacha Gervasi and stars a portly Anthony Hopkins as the Master of Suspense with Helen Mirren as Hitchcock's devoted, perceptive wife Alma Reville.



What is your favourite Ivan Reitman movie? Join us @Cineworld as we commemorate his memory and his contribution to cinema.