Comedy films

The Ivan Reitman comedies that defined the 70s, 80s and 90s

For someone who made films that defined a generation, Ivan Reitman is not a household name.

His legacy lies in shouts of “togas” at college parties, children dressed in jumpsuits on Halloween, a Dunkin’ Bugs Bunny, and the Arnold Schwarzenegger-worthy delivery of “it’s not a tumor.”

The director and producer died peacefully in his sleep on Saturday at the age of 75.

Here are some of his greatest works.

National Lampoon’s Animal House (1979)

Reitman’s big breakthrough came from his work as a producer on one of the most influential comedies of the 1970s.

The boisterous send-off of college fraternity Animal House, starring Saturday Night Live comedian John Belushi, was a box office success.

In 2001, the Library of Congress added it to the National Film Registry, which is a selection of films deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” to America.

His legacy extends to the popularity of toga parties, food fights, quote lines and one of Belushi’s greatest performances before his untimely death four years later.

Warning: the video contains coarse language


Ghostbusters (1984)

Who are you gonna call?

When actor and comedian Dan Aykroyd penned the screenplay for Ghostbusters, he chose Reitman to direct what would be a defining 1980s film.

Ghostbusters launched a million Halloween costumes, a successful four-movie franchise, and remains one of the greatest comedy movies of all time.

Reitman returned to direct the 1989 sequel Ghostbusters 2 and worked as a producer on the female-led reboot in 2016 Ghostbusters: Answer the Call.

He was also the producer of the recently released third installment of the original series, Ghostbusters: Afterlifedirected by his son Jason Reitman.

The couple worked together on the 2009 film George Clooney In the airwhich was nominated for six Oscars including Best Picture.


Twins (1988)

Before Twins, Arnold Schwarzenegger was the big-armed action man in roles like Hercules, Conan, Terminator and Predator’s Dutch.

Reitman paired him onscreen with Danny DeVito as a long-lost twin brother, and the era of Schwarzenegger comedy was born.

Twins was a box office hit and would have been DeVito and Schwarzenegger’s biggest earner, as they both opted to forgo a salary in exchange for a share of the film’s revenue.

Schwarzenegger would go on to work on the next three Reitman-directed films: kindergarten cop (1990), David (1993) and Junior (1994).

Reitman, Schwarzenegger and DeVito would have been filming the sequel to Twins in Boston last month called Triplets, starring Tracey Morgan as the long-lost third sibling.


Space Jam (1996)

On paper, it was terrible: Returning Michael Jordan teams up with Bugs Bunny and the Looney Tunes to battle aliens in the ultimate basketball game.

But on screen, it was a kind of rare magic that remains special for people born in the 1990s.

The film was based on a 1992 Super Bowl commercial that director Joe Pytka did with Bugs and Jordan to promote Nike’s Air Jordan sneakers.

As one of the film’s producers, Reitman helped bring all the elements together to make Space Jam an iconic film.

He was also responsible for the cameo of Bill Murray, who appeared in the animated showdown because “the producer is a friend of mine”.

Prior to Ghostbusters and its sequel, Reitman made Murray’s first credited film, Meatballsin 1979 and reunited with him for the 1981 war comedy Grooves.

Reitman’s daughter, Catherine Reitman, who created and starred in the television series Workin’ Moms, also voiced the purple Monstar, Nerdluck Bupkus.

While Space Jam has remained a childhood favorite since its release in 1996, the 2021 reboot Space Jam: A New Legacy was considered a shameless cash grab.