The 10 Most Legendary Ivan Reitman Movie Moments

Writer, director, and producer Ivan Reitman left an incredible stamp on cinema, delivering classics like "Ghostbusters" and "Stripes" along with beloved cult classics like "Kindergarten Cop," "Evolution," and even "Heavy Metal." The legendary director died suddenly on February 14, 2022, leaving an incredible legacy of cinematic comedy behind him. To celebrate this phenomenal creator, I've put together the top 10 best scenes from the films he helped create, either as a writer, director, or producer. While someone could make a list entirely out of "Ghostbusters" scenes alone, I stuck to one film per entry in the name of fairness. While there are a couple of genuine stinkers in Reitman's filmography, (lookin' at you, "Junior"), it's genuinely impressive how many good or great movies he influenced in his career. 

Without further ado, here are the ten greatest Ivan Reitman movie moments in no particular order, even if "Stripes" will always be #1 in my heart. 

'It's Not A Tumor!' - Kindergarten Cop

Arnold Schwarzenegger was the absolute king of one-liners in the 1980s and '90s. From "Get to the choppa!" in "Predator" to "I'll be back" in "Terminator," he was a man who only had to say (or yell) a few words, and the whole world would soon be quoting them. In 1990 Reitman directed the future Governator in "Kindergarten Cop," about a detective who goes undercover as a kindergarten teacher. The movie is a hilarious family-friendly romp that finds most of its humor in the detective's inability to have patience for the kids, but his best outburst comes when one paranoid child suggests that his headaches might be caused by a tumor. "It's not a tumor!" Schwarzenegger screams in his Austrian lilt, making it sound something more like "It's naht a toomaaah!" Almost anyone can relate to feeling overwhelmed by a group of rambunctious kids, so his reaction is somewhat understandable and entirely hilarious. Reitman knows how to work the scene for comedy, focusing on the many irritating things the children do before the detective finally snaps, then lingering on Schwarzenegger's oddly contorting face, his eyes bulging out of his head and nostrils flaring. This scene only works because of how ridiculously over-the-top it is, and Reitman's direction feels evident in every moment.  

Seann William Scott Serenading A Monster Bird - Evolution

There's an old adage about music taming the savage beast, and in "Evolution," Seann William Scott puts that theory to the test. In the 2001 science fiction comedy directed by Reitman, aliens have invaded Earth and have begun to evolve. One of the aliens, a dinosaur-like flying creature, is loose in the local mall. In an attempt to capture the creature, Scott starts trying to communicate with the bird, first by making "caw-caw" sounds, then by singing "You Are So Beautiful." The plan actually works, and the team manages to shoot down the bird. Scott's character is kind of a moron, so the look on Professor Block's (Orlando Jones) face when this tactic works is just as funny as Scott's off-key vocals. "Evolution" is a lot of gross, extraterrestrial fun, and also stars Juliette Moore, David Duchovny, and Dan Aykroyd in the hilarious ensemble cast. 

A Razzle Dazzle Graduation - Stripes

Reitman often worked with the same actors time and time again, but his most prominent collaborator was Bill Murray. In "Stripes," which Reitman directed, Murray plays a cabbie named John Winger who loses his job and gets dumped by his girlfriend, so he decides to join the United States Army. He even convinces his best friend (Harold Ramis) to join him, and the two are up to hilarious hijinks in no time. "Stripes" is a comedy about people who just don't fit neatly between the lines and have to challenge authority at every turn. The greatest scene comes when Winger's rag-tag unit must march as a group in order to graduate basic training. Instead of royally screwing it up, they manage to deliver a fantastic performance, completing their basic training without a drill sergeant after he's injured. This gets them some major attention, and they're sent on a mission in Italy as a result that kicks off the main arc of the movie. "Stripes" is a blast, and it's hard not to reply to everything with "That's a fact, Jack!" after seeing this one. 

The Stay Puft Battle - Ghostbusters

No Reitman list would be complete without "Ghostbusters," and there are a lot of great moments to choose from. There's the fridge creature, the insane ghost sex scene, and the introduction of Slimer, but nothing stands out quite like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. The giant mascot stomps around like a confectioner's kaiju, brought to life when Ray (Dan Aykroyd) thinks about the Stay Puft mascot from his childhood when his mind is scanned by the forces of evil. "I couldn't help it! It just popped in there!" he cries, though it's too late — the marshmallow monster has already come to life. Bill Murray's incredulous reaction is pitch-perfect, and the team is forced to work together to take on the movie's biggest baddie. "Ghostbusters" went on to be a massive franchise, with sequels, spin-offs, a cartoon series, and more, but it all began with four funny guys, a killer theme song, and some fantastic direction.

Meeting Vincent - Twins

"Twins" stars frequent Reitman collaborator Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito as — you guessed it — twins! Reitman directed this 1988 comedy, about a handsome, physically perfect, and sweet Ken doll of a man named Julius (Schwarzenegger) who goes looking for his long-lost twin, who turns out to be a tiny lecherous loaf of a small-time crook named Vincent (DeVito). The two were part of an experiment to genetically engineer the ideal human, but somehow Julius ended up with all of the good genes and Vincent got all of the leftovers, making them polar opposites in every way. The twins were raised very differently as well, with Julius specially trained by a scientist while Vincent was abandoned to an orphanage in Los Angeles. "Twins" examines our misconceptions about people and tells the story of one truly odd friendship, and one of its best moments comes early on when Julius first meets his brother, who has been locked up for his crimes. Julius is shocked and double-checks with the guard before talking to his brother, and it's obvious pretty quickly that they might share blood, but that's about it. "Twins" is a weird, funny flick that gives DeVito plenty of chances to show off his comedic chops, and Schwarzenegger is great as the himbo straight man to his schemes.

Meeting The Scoleri Brothers - Ghostbusters II

The ghosts in the "Ghostbusters" films are a lot of fun, but the two wildest ghosts in the franchise are probably the Scoleri brothers from "Ghostbusters II," directed by Reitman in 1989. The brothers, played by Tim Lawrence and Jim Fye, were sentenced to death by Judge Stephen Wexler (Harris Yulin). When three of the Ghostbusters find themselves in court and Judge Wexler doesn't believe any of their ghost stories, things start looking bad for the 'busters. The Scoleri brothers' ghosts break out of their holding container and start trying to punish Judge Wexler for sentencing them to death by electrocution. The special effects are a little dated, but the scene is spectacularly fun, and when the Ghostbusters power up their proton packs to save the day, it's a joyous moment that reminds us what makes these movies so fun. It's the first time they put on the packs and kick some ghostly butt in the sequel, and it sets the tone for the rest of the fiercely funny flick. 

Bluto's Speech - Animal House

Reitman didn't direct the 1978 college comedy "Animal House," (that distinction goes to John Landis), but he did produce the National Lampoon favorite. The film follows a fraternity of misfits and losers who fight the establishment at every turn, and as a result, get their fraternity shut down and are in danger of expulsion. The movie's standout star is John Belushi, who plays the not-so-bright John Blutarsky, or "Bluto." He's a loud, crass, alcoholic madman who smashes acoustic guitars and spits mashed potatoes across the cafeteria, the ultimate toxic frat boy. There's something funny about Bluto, though, whose stupidity becomes especially apparent when he tries to rally the frat after a particularly harsh blow from the administration. "Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?" he shouts, and though the more-educated students are confused, they let him continue because "he's on a roll." Belushi's delivery is perfect, and you believe that Bluto believes everything he's saying. While there are elements of "Animal House" that haven't aged well, there's always something funny about an idiot who thinks they're a genius trying to deliver a speech.  

The President's Address - Dave

On the complete opposite end of the spectrum of cinematic speeches is Kevin Kline in "Dave," playing a regular guy named Dave who happens to do a perfect impression of president Bill Mitchell (also played by Kline). After Mitchell goes into a coma, Dave is tasked with pretending to be the president, and he learns quite a few things about the way politics work. /Film's Sandy Schaefer compared "Dave" to "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," and the comparison couldn't be more apt. It's a comedy about how human greed can hinder democracy, and how sometimes the person who wants a job least might be the person who is most deserving. In the climactic scene of "Dave," the faux-president gives a speech that takes a hard look at American politics. "I outta care about what's right better than what's popular," he says, the kind of statement we'll probably never get out of a real-life president any time soon. "Dave" gives me hope for the America that could be.

Let It Out - I Love You, Man

In "I Love You, Man," which Reitman produced, the nice-but-friendless Peter (Paul Rudd) is on the hunt for a best friend. You see, he's getting married soon and some of his future wife's friends think that it's "weird" that Peter doesn't have any male friends. He's a little bit of a stick in the mud, and when he meets free-wheeling Sydney (Jason Segel), the two form an unlikely bond. Throughout the movie, Sydney tries to help Peter unwind a little bit. He recommends yelling and screaming, and Peter freaks out at the idea of doing it on the boardwalk. Sydney has no problem with this and demonstrates, but Peter is shy, so Sydney takes him down below. Rudd and Segel play off one another well, and Rudd's improvised scream sounds to try and irritate Sydney are hilarious. When he finally does scream and we see his real feelings peek out, if only for a moment, it's cathartic. How many of us could use a really good scream under the boardwalk right about now? I know I could. 

Taarna's Bar Fight - Heavy Metal

Believe it or not, Reitman also produced "Heavy Metal," the 1981 animated adult anthology film loosely inspired by the science fiction and fantasy magazine of the same name. The movie is a psychedelic horror show of disturbing and beautiful visuals and a soundtrack one would expect with the name "Heavy Metal." The movie is a set of very loosely connected stories, but the most iconic follows Taarna, a monster-riding, sword-wielding warrior woman and protector of our universe, as she beats the crud out of an entire bar full of mutant barbarians. The scene plays out like an album cover come to life, with the scantily-clad Taarna chopping off heads and never saying a word. It's old-school cool, and when she leaves the bar and gives the bartender a coin for his troubles, it's a beautiful callback to our romanticized notions of cowboys and bar-fights in the old West. Reitman may have been known for helping to create some of our favorite cult comedies, but it turns out that he helped create another iconic cult classic, too. 

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