Five Favorite Films

Five Favorite Films with Jason Reitman

Director of Up in the Air also talks to us about his personal Tomatometer.

by | December 3, 2009 | Comments

Werner Herzog

It’s no secret that director Jason Reitman comes from an established Hollywood pedigree, and while his father, Ivan Reitman (Stripes, Ghostbusters), is remembered most for his iconic 80s comedies, Jason is well on his way to making a similar name for himself with his edgy comedies of the aughts. Reitman burst onto the big screen in 2004 with a critically acclaimed satire, Thank You for Smoking, then followed that up in 2007 with the quirky, indie comedy Juno. The latter went on to win various awards, including the Best Original Screenplay Oscar for newcomer Diablo Cody’s pop-slang heavy script, and jumpstarted the career of its star, Ellen Page.

This week, Reitman’s latest effort, the George Clooney-powered Up in the Air, opens in limited release, and we were lucky enough to sit down with Jason for a friendly chat about his Five Favorite Films and his personal Tomatometer.


Election (1999,
93% Tomatometer)


Election inspired my voice as a director more than any other film I’ve ever seen. When I think about the perfect balance between comedy and drama on each of my films, the standard that I hold myself to is Election.

Dr. Strangelove (1964,
100% Tomatometer)

Dr. Strangelove

It was my introduction to dark humour. I don’t think I knew what dark comedy was until I saw Dr. Strangelove.

Harold and Maude (1971,
84% Tomatometer)

Harold and Maude

It’s the cinematic definition of charm. We can all only aspire to find love like Harold and Maude.

Alien/Aliens (1979,
97% Tomatometer/1986, 100% Tomatometer)


Alien is a perfect film and if I were to ever make a sci-fi or horror film, the benchmark for me would be Alien. I would put Alien and Aliens side-by-side, actually. I think Alien 3 is mediocre and I think Alien: Resurrection is a travesty. AvP is fun. Whoever wins, we lose, you know — why not? I would love to see a return to greatness for that franchise. Knowing that David Fincher was given a chance, it’s actually kind of confusing. I think with better writers Alien 3 would be measuring up, because obviously he is as quality a director as Scott or Cameron. Jeunet is a brilliant director too, but just not right for that series.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986,
80% Tomatometer)

Ferris Bueller's Day Off

I like to write movies about people who can talk. That’s kind of a defining characteristic of my films. People who are unusually convincing and who do not lose their cool. If I could be reborn the coolest guy alive, I would be reborn Ferris Bueller.

Next, Reitman muses about his personal Tomatometer and how his films have performed on RT.

RT: With your third movie, it’s starting to become clearer the sort of stories you like to tell…

Jason Reitman: And I’m growing a patch of tomatoes. I love it.

That’s true. We’re running out of awards to give you. If you could just make one bad film, that’d really help us.

[laughs] That’d be useful? You mean you don’t send people trophies for the really bad ones?! By the way, Jennifer’s Body really f***ed up my curve — I was a producer. When you click on me, you count that in my sh**. It brought my numbers down. I was kind of upset by that! Up in the Air is like 95% [at the time of the interview], Juno is 93%, Smoking is 85% or 86%. My director numbers are strong.
As a producer, not so much.

[laughs] Well, I produced Up in the Air, too! I’m like a 75% overall.

Do you keep an eye on your Tomatometer, then?

Oh, absolutely. I’m always very aware of my Tomato rating. I’m a numbers guy. You know about my pie chart? I like numbers. My math SAT – through the roof. My English SAT – in the toilet. I’ve always been into numbers and that’s one of the reasons I like Kubrick – he was obsessed by numbers. The only way of measuring the culmination of your reviews is Rotten Tomatoes. Even though I decide for myself if I’m going to see a movie, it’s nice to go on there and see, “How is this going to fare?”

You can catch Jason Reitman’s newest film, Up in the Air, in theaters beginning this weekend.
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