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5 Ivan Reitman movies you need to watch

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Ivan Reitman’s death was a blow. The 75-year-old director, screenwriter and producer was one of the names attached to many films that millions of people grew up with and to see him die so suddenly was quite shocking.

As a child, my family watched ghost hunters and David practically on a loop every Friday night. We quote both films ad infinitum. In fact, I could probably close my eyes and watch either movie in my head without missing a beat. I don’t remember seeing ghost hunters for the first time – I was way too young – but my parents saw it after hearing a few guys talking about this “funny ghost movie” a few weeks after it came out. I watched it endlessly throughout my youth. When I stayed home sick from school, I plugged in our little TV and VCR in my bedroom, relaxed, and watched Bill Murray and the gang take down a ghost. It’s still one of my all-time favorites.

David, on the other hand, was one of those movies that my family stumbled upon primarily because we were Sigourney Weaver fans. To this day, everyone in the cast – including Kevin Kline, Kevin Dunn, Frank Langella, Charles Grodin and Ving Rhames – goes by the nickname “that Dave person” in my eyes – with the exception of Ben Kingsley, who will forever be Cosmo’s Sneakers. I swear I’ve seen this movie a thousand times…even thinking about it brings a wave of 90s nostalgia – a Friday night in the middle of summer with the family, a bucket of popcorn and David.

Thank you Ivan Reitman for all the joy you have brought me and my family over the years. We will miss you. In case you’re looking for some of the best works of the man, here are my five favorite films directed by Ivan Reitman.


Kindergarten Cop (1990)

I missed kindergarten cop when it came out in 1990, but I saw the picture plenty of times at school. For some reason, for a good four or five years, the Arnold Schwarzenegger comedy was my elementary teachers’ go-to movie when they needed some time off before a vacation or a lazy Friday. Naturally, the film’s decidedly intense action and suggestive content – it received a PG-13 rating – wouldn’t fly in today’s market, but nobody seemed too bothered at the time.

Anyway, I’ve always enjoyed goofy comedy for its overtly silly way. Outside of James Cameron, Reitman has probably had the most success exploiting Arnold’s endless charisma, as seen in Twins, kindergarten copand the underrated Junior.

If you haven’t seen kindergarten cop in a moment and really want to feel old – well, at least those of you who grew up with the movie – put it up and watch knowing that the youngsters in the movie are all close to 40 today. Ouch!

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Twins (1988)

Now I remember seeing Twins at the cinema with my parents, my sister and my grandmother. I vividly remember every scene with Kelly Preston capturing my very young attention. I’ve only returned to acting sporadically over the years, including on a recent viewing a few months ago where I was surprised to discover how much the film stuck in my subconscious. I could remember a number of scenes in great detail, including the moment Danny DeVito crawls up to Chloe Webb amidst a bouquet of flowers.

Surprisingly, Twins is holding up very well today. Arnold and DeVito make a perfect comedic combo; and the story, while a bit silly in the way it tries to shoehorn into action to give its big star a reason to flex its muscles, is still surprisingly heartwarming.

Now, in parallel, I actually think Junior is the best film of the three Arnold-Reitman teams, but for nostalgia, kindergarten cop and Twins deserve a nod.

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Stripes (1981)

The stripes look great Caddyshack in that it doesn’t always work, especially in its second half, but when it hits… man, it hits hard. With a gaming cast that includes Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, John Candy, Warrant Oats, Sean Young, John Larroquette, Judge Reinhold and, apparently, Bill Paxton (not really!), Grooves is one of those movies that has a lot of bits (including this one) that you end up quoting long after the credits. It’s not always perfect, but as a carefree exercise in comedy, you can’t get much better.


David (1993)

I’ve shared my thoughts on Reitman’s classic romantic/political comedy before, but in case you’ve never seen the movie, let me repeat: David is an absolute classic that functions as light-hearted comedy, clever political satire, and surprisingly thoughtful drama. Kevin Kline is brilliant as Dave, an ordinary man tasked with posing as the President of the United States, while Sigourney Weaver, fresh off the hook Alien 3 and Ridley Scott 1492: Conquest of Paradise, is perfect as the embittered First Lady, who slowly begins to admire this bizarre clone of her husband. Ving Rhames nearly got away with the movie as Dave’s lovable security guard, while Charles Grodin, Kevin Dunn and Frank Langella are stellar in supporting roles.

On top of that, you get a sharp screenplay by Gary Ross and a score by James Newton Howard that delivers just the right note of whimsy to the proceedings.

For some reason we’re not talking about David almost enough. Apart from ghost huntersit’s easily Reitman’s strongest film and one of the best high-concept comedies you’ll ever see.

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Ghostbusters (1984)

After all these years, ghost hunters remains perhaps the greatest example of a successful big-budget comedy. Somehow, Reitman turned a silly Dan Aykroyd idea into one of the most entertaining movies of our time, filled with great visual effects that still hold up to this day, wicked humor, of a solid concept fantastic enough to dazzle, but grounded enough to relate to; and an incredible cast of young rising stars – Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, Rick Moranis, Annie Potts, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver and Dan Aykroyd – who each fill their roles to perfection.

Reitman keeps the movie on a steady pace and builds to an awesome climax that’s as scary as it is hilarious. Seriously, nothing sticks out ghost hunters.

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