Ivan Reitman didn’t direct a lot of films, just 20 features over a career that spanned over 40 years.
But his imprint on screen comedy was enormous, launching actors to stardom and fellow filmmakers who followed in his irreverent, sweet and distinctly Canadian sensibilities style to reshape the way we looked at the big screen and laughed in his heyday.
Ivan, directly of “Ghostbusters” and “Dave,” father of Jason and producer of “Up in the Air,” died over the weekend. He was 75.
“Meatballs” was the movie that really announced him to the world, a fact sort of lost in the way he made this goofy, sexist, post hippy and definite summer camp comedy the perfect vehicle to launch Bill Murray’s stardom.
He tried making more sophisticated movies here and there, but dopey comedies we’re his specialty — Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito as “Twins,”
I think “Dave” was his best film, with the ensemble farce “Ghostbusters” easily the most popular and most durable. He loved long enough to see his son Jason make an inferior, mostly humorless “Requel.”
It’s east to look over that filmography and see a lot of big name cast/high concept crap in there, with most of his finished features earning poor reviews, and for good reasons.
But I dare say most of us have a soft spot for his work, for the punchlines, the pre-meme “memes” he added to the culture.
And there’s a lot to be said for his brand of juvenilia, the dopey Peter Pans who never grew up (Murray, mostly) and the silliness of the situations he created.
Jason Reitman made “Juno” and “Up in the Air” before losing his mojo. Harold Ramis out Reitmanned Reitman with “Groundhog Day.” But neither of them, or the legions like them, could have had success without the groundwork Ivan laid in the ’80s, the stars he created or got funny work from.