National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978):

National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978)

This 1962-set movie follows a college’s frat house’s raunchy antics.

It’s the only film on this list Reitman did not direct. But Reitman developed Animal House and produced it. He later said that John Landis was handed the directorial reins due to his own lack of experience at the time.

Even so, Animal House is a pioneering template for Reitman’s future hits, from its youthful ensemble spirit to its post-SNL star (John Belushi), to Reitman’s frequent collaborator Ramis (who co-wrote the film).

Animal House feels, more than Reitman’s other producer-only titles, very much like an essential part of his oeuvre.





1. Ghostbusters (1984)

Ghostbusters never should have worked. An over-the-top mix of comedy, horror and special effects (some terrible, even for the time), the film is a masterpiece of getting a unique tone just right that helped viewers take the film’s world and characters seriously enough to fully invest in the story (Reitman daringly lit and shot the film like a drama), but not so seriously that a panting slime monster and giant marshmallow man weren’t hilarious. It also helped, of course, that the film starred Dan Aykroyd and Murray at the top of their post-SNL improv game, just radiating comedic confidence along with a winning Ramis, Weaver and Ernie Hudson. The film spawned three subsequent sequels that all tried (and couldn’t quite) recapture the spirit of the original. There was something about Reitman’s film and approach that was just lightning in a bottle — or a poltergeist in a ghost trap.