Ivan Reitman’s legacy is larger than the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. While the Canadian filmmaker, who died this past weekend at the age of 75, will forever be known as Mr. Ghostbusters, Reitman’s filmography as both director and producer is startlingly varied – and essential to the evolution of Hollywood (not to be confused with Evolution, Reitman’s underwhelming 2001 sci-fi comedy, itself).
To mark Reitman’s passing and honour his long career, here are five of his best and most influential films, and where Canadians can stream them right now.
Although Animal House was directed by John Landis, Reitman’s role as producer was critical to combining the varied comic forces (National Lampoon editors Douglas Kenney and Chris Miller, screenwriter Harold Ramis, star John Belushi) who would turn the film into a comedy touchstone. What’s most impressive is that Animal House, created during an inflection point for the baby boomer generation, still (mostly) holds up today. Streaming on Netflix, Crave and Starz on Prime Video
Nobody is going to call Meatballs an excellent film. But the 1979 production is key to understanding so many elements of both Reitman’s success and the history of big-screen comedy. Made during the height of Canada’s tax-shelter era, the grungy summer-camp comedy would inspire a legion of sequels, knock-offs and homages (the best spawn being Wet Hot American Summer), establish star Bill Murray’s deadpan-slacker charm and prove that Reitman was a trendsetter in addition to being a tastemaker. Plus: The relatively innocent Meatballs is still awfully cute. Streaming on Tubi and CTV.ca
This military-focused farce proved that there was no greater comedy partnership in the eighties than the one between Reitman, Ramis and Murray. It just might be impossible to overstate how much of a profound effect Stripes had on an entire generation of comedians and comic performers, and how its middle-finger sensibility can be felt in almost every other mainstream comedy to come afterward. Streaming on CTV.ca
I’m already on the record as loathing what’s become of Reitman’s Ghostbusters franchise. But it is easy to see why fans are still so passionate about the adventures of a bunch of proton-pack-wielding dorks: The original 1984 GB is the gold-standard of rewatchable eighties comedies, filled with wonderful characters, thrilling set pieces and not-safe-for-work one-liners that still stick almost four decades later. Slime on, you crazy diamond. Streaming on Netflix, Crave and CTV.ca
Remember when you could make a satire about the White House and you didn’t have to resort to tired Donald Trump riffs? In perhaps his gentlest, smartest, most emotionally acute comedy, Reitman casts Kevin Kline in dual roles – as the insufferable U.S. president and his dopey everyday look-alike – alongside Ghostbusters regular Sigourney Weaver as the first lady. The 1993 film is not mentioned nearly as much as Reitman’s other big-budget, high-concept comedies (Twins, Junior) but it is undeniably one of his most affecting works. Streaming on Crave and Hoopla
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