I remember being in school around January of 1985. One of my friends sat next to me (can’t remember his name, it was almost forty years ago) and he was telling me how amazing Ghostbusters was, that he had seen it. However, I noticed something strange (in the neighbourhood) as all he kept talking about were scenes shown in the trailer and nothing from the actual film itself.
I mean, he didn’t even know about the giant marshmallow man. It became quite clear that he hadn’t seen the film at all and was trying to sound ‘cool’. I knew he hadn’t seen the film because well, I had. Anyway, that was the first memory that came to my mind when I heard that Ivan Reitman had died. I was a kid back then, I never understand filmmaking at all, I didn’t know what a director did, had zero idea of what (if anything) happened behind the camera. All I cared about was the fact I enjoyed watching the film.
As I grew older and became a fan of not just films but filmmaking. When I began to learn about everything that does go on behind the camera, that was when I understood what a director and producer did. That was when I started to become a fan of Ivan’s work. I remember watching Stripes on TV for the first time. It had a couple of the guys out of Ghostbusters in it, so that was enough to get me to watch. Of course, Stripes was also directed by Ivan Reitman. Then there was Meatballs, the film that really launched both Bill Murray’s and Ivan Reitman’s careers. This film was also the start of the personal and professional relationship between Ivan, Bill and Harold Ramis.
The all-time classic Animal House that really kick-started John Belushi’s film career and the whole National Lampoon’s film franchise was directed by John Landis but produced by Ivan Reitman. I didn’t realise it at the time but Ivan was shaping my tastes in American comedy films as I grew from boy to young adult. Then there was Twins, the mismatched and goofy comedy starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito as twin brothers. It is stupid but harmless and good fun. A film that took the then gargantuan action star that was Arnold Schwarzenegger and showed that he had some pretty decent comedy chops. Something that Ivan would do again later with both Kindergarten Cop and Junior.
Of course, the film that inadvertently made me an Ivan Reitman fan got a sequel. Ghostbusters II has always been a bit of a hit and miss film. A disappointment after the first film sure but still a good watch and it was great to see the old team back together again. As a director, Ivan kept himself busy up to 2014 with his last film being the sports drama Draft Day.
As a producer, Ivan Reitman had a few other notable films under his belt. Cult favourite Heavy Metal, the animated movie based on the magazine of the same name. Full of violence and beewbage! The awfully terrible Sylvester Stallone starring Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot was another. But Ivan Reitman made up for how bad that was with the pretty damn great Space Jam afterwards. Melding live-action with classic Loony Tunes characters for some basketball action… and a Bill Murray cameo. Ivan was also a producer on the biographical making of Psycho with the 2012 film Hitchcock.
When Ghostbusters was remade in 2016, Ivan Reitman was on board as producer. And of course, he returned to the franchise one last time for Ghostbusters: Afterlife, which was released last year. Directed by his son, Jason Reitman, the film worked as a direct sequel to the original films and was pretty damn great too. Ivan was not just a producer on this film, he even had a little ‘hidden’ cameo at the end, which I’m not going to spoil if you’ve not yet seen it.
Ivan Reitman was set to direct a sequel to Twins this year called Triplets. Bringing back Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito but now with Tracy Morgan playing the third brother. Sadly, now that Ivan has passed away, it is not known where the film stands, especially as it was set to begin filming this month. Ivan’s cause of death has not yet been revealed but his family have described it as being an ‘unexpected loss’. Maybe Jason will pick up the mantle and finish what his father sadly could not?
There’s been an amazing backlash for the last decade in America: political correctness. In many ways, I think that, while we’ve been remarkably violent in our media, there’s been a real schizophrenia. In private, on the Internet, and on public-affairs shows or talk radio, we’re way more explicit than we’ve ever been. But traditional Hollywood has been much more frightened than it ever was in the ’70s about presenting things that could be perceived as politically incorrect.
– Ivan Reitman
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