Ivan Reitman

Ghostbusters

Some movies, no matter how old they are, never age a day. Their situations and themes remain as relevant now as when they were first released. Watching them today, they reflect and comment on our present in ways they couldn’t possibly have anticipated. Every month we’re going to pick a movie from the past that does just that, and explore what it has to say about the here and now. Ivan Reitman’s Ghostbusters – now celebrating its 30th anniversary — might seem an unlikely candidate to include in this column. After all, there’s not a (sane) person on earth who would watch this movie and say “Maaannnn, is this thing dated.” The filmmaking nor the humor has aged a day, and even the special effects make you appreciatively nostalgic more than critical. Still, there are several elements of the story, characters and location that surprisingly evoke the specifics of our present more than one might think. Here are five ways Ghostbusters crosses the time stream from 1984 to 2014.

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Peter MacNicol in Ghostbusters 2

A lot of people went to see Ghostbusters II on its opening weekend 25 years ago, enough to break a box office record (that would be surpassed a week later with the release of Batman). Of course it was hugely anticipated. Ghostbusters was already a classic after only five years, and thanks in part to a Saturday morning cartoon spin-off and toys and other merchandising, kids especially couldn’t wait to see Peter, Ray, Egon, Winston and, of course, Slimer back on the big screen. But it was a huge disappointment for most fans. The plot was too much of a repeat of the original, the cast didn’t give it their all and worst of all it wasn’t very funny, so said — and still say — its biggest critics. Well, I was only 12 at the time and sufficiently satisfied. Already obsessed then by how New York City is represented in cinema, I especially enjoyed the pink slime causing the Big Apple’s notorious reputation for being a mean-spirited metropolis. I even appreciated the corny use of the Statue of Liberty as the antithesis of that negative distinction. But it was enough to see the gang reunited with their proton packs, as well as the return of Rick Moranis, who would have stolen the whole movie if he weren’t beaten at his own game by Peter MacNicol. Some might think of Dr. Janosz Poha as the Jar Jar Binks of the Ghostbusters franchise. For me, he’s still the sequel’s greatest component.

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Kevin Costner in DRAFT DAY

Meatballs, Stripes, Ghostbusters and Dave are four of Ivan Reitman‘s films that have stood the test of time. When Reitman was on top of his game, the now 67-year-old filmmaker hit grand slams. I’m not using these sports metaphors because his latest film, Draft Day, includes the NFL Draft, but because, like athletes, some directors have hot streaks and cold streaks. For an array of reasons, slumps happen. Reitman’s lasted 18 years. After Dave he directed Junior, Father’s Day, Evolution, My Super Ex-Girlfriend, and Six Days, Seven Nights. A few of those films had glimmers of hope that Reitman hadn’t lost his touch, but during those years, only as a producer was he making quality movies. People generally focus on the films that proceeded Dave, not Old School, Up in the Air,  I Love You, Man and Private Parts, and one of those acclaimed films he came close to directing. “It was stupid,” Reitman says, on why he didn’t direct Private Parts himself. “I was doing three movies at once: Space Jam, which I was sort of directing, but I wasn’t officially directing; Father’s Day, which I shouldn’t have directed, because we never got the script right; and Private Parts. Private Parts was the one I gave up, and I shouldn’t have.”

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Kevin Costner and Jennifer Garner in DRAFT DAY

It’s NFL draft time, and the Cleveland Browns’ general manager Sonny Weaver (Kevin Costner) is in a tight spot. The pressure is on from the public, the team’s owner (Frank Langella), the coach (Denis Leary) and the rest of the organization to build the best team possible. He manages the unthinkable early on and gets his team the first pick, but it was a panicked move that actually does more harm than good. Now he’s on the clock and running out of time — it’s the ninth inning, he’s in the end zone, and there’s blood on the ice —  oh, and his girlfriend (Jennifer Garner) just told him that she’s pregnant. This is the kind of crazy day that can only fully be captured with split screens. Lots and lots of split screens. Thankfully director Ivan Reitman is happy to oblige. It’s almost as if he just discovered the technology or is trying to win a contest. Draft Day is a poor man’s Moneyball in the sense that the screenwriters probably watched Moneyball at some point and thought to themselves “what if a rogue personality went against the grain to build their, wait for it, football team?” In addition to changing sports though they also swapped statistics and logic for gut instinct and contrivance, replaced character depth with daddy issues and removed any semblance of dramatic suspense by setting the story entirely on one day and off the field.

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Jason Reitman in Ghostbusters II

It doesn’t come as a surprise that in the wake of Harold Ramis‘s death that Ivan Reitman has dropped out of directing Ghostbusters 3. The silver lining is that he will still be involved as a producer, but that is one more original player that won’t be back in his regular spot. Reitman told Deadline of his decision as well as details about the road the sequel has taken up to this point, including how the current draft from Etan Cohen with Dan Aykroyd has the main characters of the first two movies taking a back seat, as long rumored. “Harold got sick about three years ago, and we kept hoping he would get better,” Reitman says of the latest plan. “I kept pushing forward on the Etan Cohen and we now have a draft that is very good, that the studio is very excited about.” Along with the news that Reitman is vacating the director’s chair is a further update that Sony is still moving the production forward and aims to start filming no later than early 2015. That’s plenty of time for Reitman and the studio to find a replacement to helm the movie, but they don’t really need very long at all because I’ve got a shortlist right here of the five best men (and woman) for the job. 

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Triplets

Back in March, our own Rob Hunter eloquently expounded on the implications of Universal Pictures’ desire to create a sequel to the Arnold Schwarzenegger- and Danny DeVito-starring minor comedic classic Twins, reportedly to be called Triplets and created with the intent to rope Eddie Murphy in as the third “brother” in the already deeply stupid scenario. Verdict? Well, stupid, but not beyond the realm of possibility in remake-happy Hollywood. We’ve heard scarce little about the project – until now! Deadline Hollywood reports that Universal and Montecito Pictures have hired Josh Gad and Ryan Dixon to pen a treatment for the script (weirdly, these things don’t just write themselves and there are rarely any monkeys and typewriters involved), with Dixon set to write the final script. Also, Ivan Reitman will return to direct the sequel, which makes sense, because his Ghostbusters 3 is never actually going to happen.

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Whoever Kevin Costner‘s agent is deserves the most ostentatious, wallet-busting, heart attack-inducing gift basket on the planet because they are working hard for the money. Let’s recap. Costner, who, as of a year or so ago, everyone had pretty much sort of forgotten about other than to mention in passing, “oh, yeah, Kevin Costner, I liked that guy” came smashing back into the collective Hollywood consciousnesses with last summer’s rumor that he would co-star in Django Unchained (though that proved fruitless), used that zing to get cast in Man of Steel, then grabbed an Emmy-winning role in Hatfields & McCoys, a major part in Jack Ryan, and a starring role in McG’s next thriller. Is Costner done yet? Not by a mile. Vulture reports (via The Playlist) that Costner will now topline Ivan Reitman‘s Draft Day, an NFL-centric film that follows the manager of the Buffalo Bills (Costner’s new role) on one heck of a day: the day he’s trying to land the number one draft pick in order to make all sorts of nutty trades, made all the more complicated by personal drama (you know, draft day). Sounds fun and all, but now it seems like Draft Day may have another feather in its cap, and not just of the Costner variety.

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The head honchos over at Universal seem to be undergoing a mid-life crisis of sorts as they reflect on their (relative) youth back in the year 1988. First, they announced last week that they’re going to move forward on a sequel to the Robert De Niro/Charles Grodin comedy Midnight Run (conveniently forgetting the three made-for-TV sequels that already exist). And now they’ve let word get out that they’re eyeballing a sequel to Ivan Reitman’s Twins. As awesome as that doesn’t sound, the news gets even more topical and ridiculous. According to THR, the studio wants to reunite Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito as the unlikely twins and add a third player into the mix so they can call the film Triplets. And who do they supposedly want for the third sibling? None other than Mr. Box Office Poison himself, Eddie Murphy!

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If there’s one great truth in the world that is absolutely indisputable, it’s that everyone loves Ghostbusters. It makes sense then that Sony would want to make as much money off of that love as possible. To that end, there’s good news both for fans of the film (everyone) and Sony’s pocketbooks, because the studio has announced via press release that they will be doing a theatrical re-release of the Ivan Reitman-directed classic on three dates this October. On Thursday, October 13th, and for the next two Thursdays after that, Ghostbusters will be playing once a day in a theater (hopefully) near you. That’s three chances you have this October to see Venkman get slimed up on the big screen, three chances to hear Egon say he collects spores, molds, and fungus on a booming sound system. There isn’t yet any word on which theaters the film will be playing in, but Sony says that it will be hitting 500 theaters in the U.S., and also various theaters in Canada and around the globe as well. You are to check your local listings for showings.

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Welcome back to Commentary Commentary, the weekly analysis of our favorite films and what the filmmakers have to say about them. This week we’re calling someone. Not sure who. It’s almost like there should be a classic line to fit in here, but right now it’s escaping me. In addition to being a modern classic, Ghostbusters is also arguably the best comedy of the last 30 years. Plus, it features Reginal Veljohnson and William Atherton, two co-stars of Die Hard, so that’s something to note, right? The two also co-starred in Die Hard 2. We’ll have to cover Renny Harlin’s commentary on that classic some day. While you’re holding your breath for that, though, we’re in the mood to laugh, get slimed, and laugh heartily some more. So take a ghostly gander – yeah, I said it – at what we learned from the Ghostbusters commentary right here.

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Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Live Free or Die Hard, the list of franchises that were long past their glory days but decided to go for another sequel anyway is growing every year. A lot of these movies end up financial successes when everything is tallied up, but they all have one thing in common: they are needless and lame from a story perspective and they turn off people who used to be fanatics of the brand. We’ve been hearing about a potential Ghostbusters 3 for quite some time now. Everybody seems to want to do it except for Bill Murray. Well, as of now, news on that front seems to be at basically a standstill, but with a little Ashton Kutcher thrown in.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr trolls around hospitals looking for a scorching hot young doctor who doesn’t want a real relationship but would rather have someone she can have copious amounts of sex with many times throughout the week. Upon returning from that fantasy land, he heads to a job-placement agency to rub elbows with laid-off corporate executives who have trouble making ends meet so they can pay the lease on their Mercedes. Kevin is handing out grades for No Strings Attached and The Company Men, and the grades are not good.

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There’s a sweet romance developing in No Strings Attached that’s infused with equal parts hope, humor, and hesitation. Both the characters and the actors bringing them to life are funny and capable of expressing their desires and doubts with brief exchanges and glances that feel honest and heartfelt. But unfortunately for the movie (and the viewers) the romance in question is not the one featuring Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher. Instead it’s a couple of supporting characters who manage to do in fifteen collective minutes of screen-time what the leads fail to accomplish throughout the entire film. Adam and Emma (kids here, but soon to be played by Kutcher and Portman) first meet at summer camp where he tries to turn sympathy over his parent’s impending divorce into a sexual opportunity, but she finds his emotional needs even less appealing than his offer of a good old fashioned fingering. They meet in passing a couple more times over the years, but their story proper begins when Adam awakens naked one morning on a couch belonging to Emma and her three roommates. He’s an emotional mess after discovering his ex-girlfriend is now dating his father (Kevin Kline) and she’s an overworked doctor uninterested in relationships, so the duo decide the best course of action is a ‘friends with benefits’ arrangement. And the downside is…?

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Director Will Gluck had a fairly middling (yet harmless) introduction with the world through Fired Up! but his follow-up, Easy A, has earned him a place as one to watch. With more eyes on him, he’s chosen to make Justin Timberlake perform oral sex on Mila Kunis while singing a Semisonic song. Ivan Reitman, on the other hand, is a veteran. He’s the man who directed every movie you liked in the 80s. He’s hit a snag as a director recently (with My Super Ex-Girlfriend), but he’s on fire as a producer. Friends with Benefits is the Casual Sex Between Friends Armageddon to No Strings Attached‘s Deep Impact. Both movies deal with the same exact plot, both involve incredibly attractive people that in no way would ever realistically be hurting for carnal pleasure, and both come out around relatively the same time. Who will come out on top? Probably Kunis, but you should check out both trailers and weigh in for yourself.

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Despite the lack of Ghostbusters 3 rumors this week, Ivan Reitman is still getting himself into the news quite a bit. It must have something to do with him being hard at work casting his next film, Friends with Benefits.

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One seasoned director. Two stars. One working title. Finally an exploration of the sexual politics between men and women.

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Cannibal Girls

How excited am I to be attending a reparatory screening of an unsung horror film at SXSW? If you’re at all familiar with the articles I typically write for FSR, then the answer is self-evident. If you are lucky enough to have never read anything of mine, let me just say that this experience made me feel like Dr. Jones in the Egyptian desert realizing that the Nazis were digging in the wrong place.

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After a level of conjecture unlike anything the world has ever seen, the details for Ghostbusters 3 are finally seeping out.

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upintheair-reitman-header

Jason Reitman’s next film Up in the Air, doesn’t hit theaters nationwide until December 25th, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t been talking about it for what feels like two years.

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Billmurrayghostbusters3

Oh, Bill. When I think I can’t love you any more, you go and say exactly what most of us have been thinking. People can crank up the hype machine, but without a script, there ain’t no movie yet. And there ain’t no Bill Murray. Yet.

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