Remembering comedy royalty Ivan Reitman, who taught us how to laugh at ghosts
It’s admittedly cliche to write “we lost one of the greats,” but nothing feels more appropriate when writing about Ivan Reitman.
Reitman’s work is the quintessential comedy experience for people across at least three generations. His biggest film, “Ghostbusters” was a first-of-its kind pop culture phenomenon. “National Lampoon’s Animal House” flipped frat house humor on its head. “Meatballs” introduced the world to Bill Murray, for cryin’ out loud. Reitman always seemed to know exactly how to blend silliness, innovation, and heart in the most magical way.
Part of Reitman’s gift was his knack for finding funny people. “You get a sense after a while when you’re seeing something special in a person,” Reitman mentioned in a 2007 interview. “They have a way of taking stage, or taking a screen. It’s not just that they know how to say something funny — there’s something about their face where you just have to keep looking at them.”
Reitman even saw the comedic potential of action superstar Arnold Schwarzenegger, who starred in two of Reitman’s movies: “Kindergarten Cop” and “Twins.” This was a near 180 degree difference from the normal bare chested barbarian and souped up killing machine roles that Schwarzenegger had become known for.
Thanks for everything, Ivan. My full statement: pic.twitter.com/lEBmGB9eue
— Arnold (@Schwarzenegger) February 14, 2022
Upon hearing the news of Reitman’s passing on Feb 12th, Schwarzenegger gave a heartfelt statement on Twitter, calling Reitman not only “comedy royalty,” but also “kind, generous, smart as hell, and always there for you.”
Schwarzenegger certainly wasn’t alone. Filmmakers and film lovers alike paid tribute on social media.
I am deeply saddened by the loss of Ivan’ Reitman. Truly a great man and filmmaker who I had honor and privilege of knowing and working with. Deepest condolences to Jason and the entire family. May he RIP #jasonReitman
— Ernie Hudson (@Ernie_Hudson) February 14, 2022
No Strings Attached
— Brett Gursky (@BrettGursky) February 14, 2022
Dan Aykroyd conceived Ghostbusters. But it was Ivan Reitman who was able to see the genius in Dan’s original concept. He was able to ground it and bring it to life along with Harold Ramis. There would not be a Ghostbusters without Ivan Reitman.
— Positively Ghostbusters (@PositivelyGB) February 14, 2022
Opening night of Ghostbusters at UA Plainview was like a rock concert. The place exploded with joy. It was one of the most memorable moments of my childhood. Ivan Reitman influenced everything we all love about film comedy. A true legend. https://t.co/AHKAoo1ahB
— Judd Apatow (@JuddApatow) February 14, 2022
In 1984, I went to see GHOSTBUSTERS in the theater every weekend… for the entire summer. It’s still the movie I’ve seen the most times. RIP Ivan Reitman.
— Elan Mastai (@elanmastai) February 14, 2022
I’m in absolute shock. I had the honor of working so closely with Ivan and it was always such a learning experience. He directed some of my favorite comedies of all time. All of us in comedy owe him so very much. Thank you for everything, Ivan. Truly. ❤️❤️ https://t.co/SGnI7OcT9s
— Paul Feig (@paulfeig) February 14, 2022
Paul Feig, who directed the all-female version of “Ghostbusters” in 2016, reflected collaborating with Reitman for the project. “It was always such a learning experience,” he wrote. “All of us in comedy owe him so very much.”
A legend. The number of great movies he made is absurd. RIP. https://t.co/1d1tWCdrcb
— Kumail Nanjiani (@kumailn) February 14, 2022
Kumai Nanjiani, co-creator of “The Big Sick” and a film trailblazer in his own right, tweeted, “ A Legend. The number of great movies he made is absurd.”
Included in that absurd list is “Beethoven” and “Space Jam”, which Reitman produced. It’s not easy to make family movies that are actually funny to all family members. But Reitman excelled at it.
Ivan Reitman was old school in the best way, and kind. I loved working with him. It’s sad he’s gone, it makes me feel older and like my childhood movies are more faraway than ever. RIP ❤️
— Mindy Kaling (@mindykaling) February 14, 2022
Mindy Kaling, who worked together with Reitman on the rom-com “No Strings Attached,” noted him as being “old school in the best way,” adding, “it’s sad he’s gone, it makes me feel older and like my childhood movies are more far away than ever.”
“Tonight, the lady with the torch weeps, as do all of us at Columbia, and film lovers around the world. Ivan Reitman was an inseparable part of this studio’s legacy, but more than that he was a friend. (1/2) pic.twitter.com/saVhBoBgFG
— Ghostbusters (@Ghostbusters) February 14, 2022
Even Tom Rothman, Chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group, spoke out. According to CNN, Rothman said in a statement, “Tonight, the lady with the torch weeps, as do all of us at Columbia, and film lovers around the world. Ivan Reitman was an inseparable part of this studio’s legacy, but more than that he was a friend. A great talent and an even finer man; he will be dearly missed…”
Ivan instilled a love for comedy into his son, Jason Reitman, whose tribute took on a more personal tone.
“All I want is the chance to tell my father one more story,” the tweet read.
I’ve lost my hero.
All I want is the chance to tell my father one more story.
He came from a family of survivors and turned his legacy into laughter.
Thank you for the kind messages. Enjoy his movies and remember his storytelling gifts. Nothing would make him happier. pic.twitter.com/tSijfxSnLg
— Jason Reitman (@JasonReitman) February 14, 2022
Jason might not be able to fulfill that wish, but he does continue his father’s storytelling legacy. Working with his dad, Jason directed the franchise’s latest installment: “Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” and has produced dark comedy cult classics like “Jennifer’s Body” and “Young Adult.”
Even the official “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” Twitter account paid its respects, saying, “See you on the other side. Rest In Peace Ivan Reitman”
See you on the other side. Rest In Peace Ivan Reitman 10/27/46 – 2/12/2022 pic.twitter.com/Bd9O5DkDz7
— Ghostbusters: Afterlife (@GBAfterlife) February 14, 2022
The world might be saddened by the loss of this icon of feel-good entertainment, but it’s only because he gave us all so so many moments that opened our hearts and brought us to laughter.
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