The Ivan Reitman ready reckoner

He's made comedy classics. He's directed comedy stinkers. We put Ghostbusters director Ivan Reitman into the ready reckoner chair...

Ghostbusters

One of the finest comedy directors on the planet comes under the glare of the ready reckoner. Who you gonna call?

MeatballsA bad way to start, as I can’t rate this, given that – due to circumstances out of my control (two duff DVD versions that I bought) – I’ve never made it through the film. Better move on quickly to…

Stripes

3 out of 5
A really enjoyable, very 1980s film, that brought together a series of faces that would become comedy stars of the decade. Stripes demonstrates why. It finds Bill Murray, John Candy and Harold Ramis on fine form, as Murray and Ramis sign up the army for giggles. Time has dated it a little, but it still showed Reitman’s talent for handling an ensemble of quality comedy performers.

Ghostbusters

5 out of 5
Ivan Reitman’s best film, a genre-defining comedy classic with special effects that were simply ahead of their time. But it’s the cast he pulls together that really makes this fly, as the likes of  Bill Murray, Rick Moranis, Signourney Weaver and Harold Ramis have an absolute ball with the terrific script they’re given to work with. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant.

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Twins

3 out of 5
Just missing out on four stars, this is the Arnie comedy that really works. The trick is drafting in Danny DeVito as his co-star, and allowing him to carry the comedy weigh. Thus, the script can then poke fun at Arnie, allowing him to take more of the straight man role. It works, too, and Twins is still capable of raising a good few chuckles.

Ghostbusters II

3 out of 5
More a case of ‘it’ll do’ than anything else, while it’s great to see the Ghostbusters return, it would have been nice if it’d been a slightly better end product. Still, there’s lots of fun in seeing the guys back in action, and the special effects have evolved well too. It’s a fun flick, but not the classic that the original is.

Kindergarten Cop

3 out of 5
Just about scraps three stars, this. This time, Arnie plays an undercover cop, who masquerades as a kindergarten teacher. Featuring some surprisingly raw Arnie moments given its subject matter, it does wring a few more laughs than you’d expect from its premise, and the kids don’t all look like they’ve been shuttled in from an episode of Barney, which helps.

Dave

3 out of 5
A nice, enjoyable comedy that pairs Kevin Kline and Sigourney Weaver. Kline plays the lookalike drafted in to become US president when the main man slips into a coma, and the film gently has some fun with the concept. What lifts it are its two leading stars, both of whom surely should be given more quality comedy material to work with.

Junior

1 out of 5
Arnold Schwarzenegger would make a worse comedy than this – Jingle All The Way, anyone? – but the one-joke formula had worn very thin by the time he became the world’s first pregnant man. Emma Thompson and Danny DeVito battle gamely, but the problem here is that it needs a talented comedy actor at the heart of the film to make it work. And it has Arnie, in a move that made the poster more interesting, but fatally damaged the film itself.Father’s Day
2 out of 5
The pairing of Billy Crystal, Robin Williams and Ivan Reitman back in the later 1990s was as close to a comedy movie sure-thing as you could get. But it wasn’t to be. A sizeable budget, a disappointing box office take, and a film that didn’t come close to utilising the talents of all involved mean it’s one very much to miss.

Six Days Seven Nights

3 out of 5
Uneven but enjoyable Harrison Ford vehicle, that mixes up action and comedy. Ford plays the gruff misery guts very well, and Anne Heche isn’t a bad foil for him (David Schwimmer gets the dull role in this one). There’s not much ambition to the film, and it never reaches much beyond competent, but it’s still a decent way to while away a couple of hours.

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Evolution

4 out of 5
Hugely underappreciated comedy, that pairs David Duchovny, Julianne Moore and a scene-stealing Orlando Jones (the single best reason to see the film), in what could almost be an off-shoot of a Ghostbusters movie, albeit with alien creatures replacing the ghosts. Very funny, well directed, and in need of rescuing from the bargain bin at Blockbuster.

My Super Ex-Girlfriend

1 out of 5
The great man’s worst film. A terrible attempt to have some fun with the superhero genre, that also manages to prove that Uma Thurman and comedy isn’t the mix it should be. Simply not generating the laughs that a comedy should, nor the action of a good superhero romp, it’s a quite muddled, borderline dull waste of time, sadly.

Not seen: Legal Eagles. It was on at Christmas once, but I wasn’t in much of a state to watch it…

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