Jason Reitman Movies Ranked and Where To Stream Them

Director Jason Reitman seems like one of the current generation of filmmakers destined for greatness. Raised by his father, the director Ivan Reitman (Ghostbusters, Stripes, Meatballs), Reitman essentially grew up immersed in film, exploring his father's movie sets and learning about the craft from an extremely early age.

Using the knowledge he gained as a child, Reitman would go on to direct some of the best films of the past two decades, including award-winning hits like Juno and Up in the Air.

His movies are complex and feature numerous flawed individuals struggling to attain some semblance of happiness in their lives, balancing some sort of morally unethical career or battling a momentous personal dilemma that will affect themselves, their family, and their loved ones.

Jason Reitman Movies Ranked and Where To Stream Them

With Reitman's newest film, Ghostbusters: Afterlife (fittingly a sequel to his father's most iconic movie), releasing on November 19, we decided to look back at Reitman's short but impressive filmography so far, ranking his movies from worst to best, as well as providing information about where they are currently streaming.

1. Labor Day

Labor Day

After making several critically acclaimed movies in the mid to late 2000s, his most successful period to date, Reitman hit a temporary slump in the early 2010s. At that time, he produced two movies that failed to live up to the popularity of his earlier work. The first of these, Labor Day, tends to be cited as one of the directors' most poorly ranked movies he's ever worked on.

Adapted from the 2009 coming-of-age novel of the same name by Joyce Maynard, Labor Day follows a lonely single mother (Kate Winslet) struggling to care for and connect with her 13-year-old son (Gattlin Griffith). After a chance encounter sees her taking care of an injured, mysterious escaped convict (Josh Brolin), the woman reluctantly takes him into her home. Over the course of Labor Day weekend, the convict develops romantic feelings for the woman, and ultimately serves as a paternal figure for her soon.

Reitman tends to be at his best and most creative when relying on a more nuanced, emotional approach to his characters, treating them more like real people (faults and all) rather than romanticized characters, as he had in Juno and Thank You for Smoking. It's this trait that Labor Day lacks, feeling much more melodramatic and artificial in its plot and characters than any other movie Reitman had worked on prior.

Based on the film's reception, it would appear audiences and critics felt the same way, with the movie earning mostly negative reviews and barely managing to break even at the box office. To date, it's one of Reitman's most poorly regarded movies, second perhaps only to his later, equally disappointing Men, Women & Children.

Streaming on Pluto TV

Image Credit: Paramount Pictures. 

2. Men, Women & Children

Men Women Children

As previously mentioned, Reitman entered the 2010s with a somewhat shaky start. In 2011, he had released the warmly received Young Adult, a movie that felt thematically similar to his earlier works (Juno, especially). By 2013, Reitman had felt his first career failure with Labor Day, a sign that Reitman's momentous rise in Hollywood was beginning to falter. Unfortunately, it would be a few more years before Reitman was able to climb back in the saddle again, with the director making another largely disappointing film (Men, Women & Children) in the meantime.

Based on the novel of the same name by Chad Kultgen, Men, Women & Children examines the massive impact technology and the Internet have had on people of various ages and backgrounds, especially those in younger generations who have been raised with technology. As each character navigates the Internet Age, they each try to find their identity as a person, measuring the impact the online world has had on their own lives.

From its premise alone, Men, Women & Children sounds like it would be an ideal choice for Reitman to direct. Its potential tone and subject matter (technology and how it affects people personally and emotionally) seems like it would thematically resemble his more introspective work on Juno, Thank You for Smoking, and Up in the Air. 

The resulting film was, like Labor Day, more melodramatic and sappy than anything else Reitman had done prior. The messages about technology were heavy-handed and literal, feeling more like a cringey adaptation of a young adult novel than a movie that measured up to Reitman's earlier work.

Negatively received upon release, Men, Women & Children measures up to the worst of Reitman's efforts, with not even its promising cast (Adam Sandler, Rosemarie DeWitt, Jennifer Garner, Judy Greer, Dean Norris, and Timothée Chalamet) able to save this movie.

Not currently streaming, but can be rented online

Image Credit: Paramount Pictures. 

3. The Front Runner

The Front Runner

In the past, Reitman had flirted with more “white collar” movies about morally conflicted characters in corporate settings with impressive results (Thank You for Smoking and Up in the Air). Given his penchant for exploring the cutthroat ethics of the business world, it seemed a natural choice for him one day to dive into the world of politics, something that he would eventually accomplish with his 2018 film, The Front Runner. 

Based on Matt Lai's nonfiction book, All the Truth Is Out: The Week Politics Went Tabloid, former Senator Gary Hart (Hugh Jackman) seems on top of the world, a promising frontrunner set to win the 1988 Democratic Party presidential primaries. His successful campaign is soon thrown into havoc, however, when reporters begin to investigate his private life, accusing him of infidelity, and putting both his marriage and his political aspirations in jeopardy.

Reitman's first biopic, The Front Runner had all the essential elements of a film right up Reitman’s wheelhouse. It has an imperfect main character (Jackman's Hart) facing a personal and professional issue that disrupts his life, and the agonizing choice that he must make to decide how to face it.

However, while Reitman's other movies deal with such issues in a warmer (as it had in Juno) or at the very least more nuanced way (as had been the case with Young Adult), The Front Runner never fully resolves the ethical or moral questions it raises. Namely, is Hart a fundamentally amoral person for cheating on his wife (infidelity is, of course, inexcusable, but does it make him the adulterous monster the media is portraying him as?), does his infidelity have anything to do with how well he can be president and is the press going too far investigating Hart's private life?

Jackman himself won unanimous praise for his role, but the movie earned a mixed reception from critics, and remains one of the more slightly disappointing movies in Reitman's career.

Streaming on Hulu (premium subscription required)

Image Credit: Colombia Pictures. 

4. Young Adult

Young Adult

Reitman's first movie of the 2010s, Young Adult saw his second collaboration with screenwriter Diablo Cody after their earlier success with Juno. Fittingly, the movie shares a similarly complex outlook on high school life, this time from the perspective of an adult rather than a young woman.

Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron) is a depressed, recently divorced, alcoholic ghostwriter whose career and personal life appear to be going down the drain. Desperate to find happiness in life, Mavis returns to her hometown and seeks out her old high school boyfriend (Patrick Wilson), ultimately coming to terms with the person she was as a young adult and the woman she's grown into.

At its heart, Young Adult is an often brutal indictment of high school and adult life, featuring characters who have received the short end of the stick in life and who are struggling to achieve personal happiness. Theron's Mavis, a role that won the actor critical acclaim and Golden Globe nomination, is a character who longs for a simpler time. The adult world has been unkind to her, and she wants only to return to the simplicity and romanticized vision she has of her youth.

Critically acclaimed upon release, Young Adult feels like the perfect companion piece to Juno, mainly due to the two lead characters' completely opposite personalities and worldviews. Whereas Elliot Page's title character, Juno, is a high school student faced with an adult decision, Young Adult‘s Mavis begins reverting back to the selfish, carefree lifestyle of a teenager.

It's a sobering, often dark exploration of adult life juxtaposed with young adulthood, and provides an interesting character study of one of Reitman’s most flawed protagonists.

Streaming on Hulu and Prime Video (premium subscriptions required for both)

Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

5. Tully

Tully

After his underwhelming work on Labor Day and Men, Women & Children, Reitman would return to form in his 2018 film, Tully, which saw him once again reunite with screenwriter Diablo Cody (their third film) and star Charlize Theron following the earlier Young Adult.

Marlo (Theron) is a mother struggling to care for her two (soon to be three) children with her husband (Ron Livingstone), even after her wealthy brother (Mark Duplass) offers to hire her a nanny. When the emotional toll and stress of taking care of the kids causes Marlo to have a breakdown, she reluctantly takes on the nanny (MacKenzie Davis), slowly forming an extremely close relationship with her over time.

Like Reitman and Cody's previous collaborations, Tully is a character study following a woman whose life is seemingly coming apart around her. Like Elliot Page’s Juno, though, she is able to seek solace in the arms of others, facing her problems with those she is close with supporting her along the way.

In a way, it’s a movie that feels like a psychological and emotionally heavier Mary Poppins, all about a mysterious young nanny who is initially hired to take care of children, only to solve the parents’ problems during her stay.

It's touching, heartfelt, and darkly humorous, and would win praise from critics and audiences, all of whom loved the emotional tone of the movie and, as was the case with Young Adult, Theron's powerful performance especially.

Streaming on HBO Max and Hulu (premium subscription required for the latter)

Image Credit: Focus Features. 

6. Thank You for Smoking

Thank You For Smoking

In 2005, Reitman (then a mere 28) directed his first feature film, adapting the Christopher Buckley satirical novel, Thank You for Smoking, into his cinematic debut.

A darkly humorous portrayal of Big Tobacco companies, Thank You for Smoking follows Nick Naylor (Aaron Eckhart), a tobacco spokesperson who uses numerous spin tactics to lobby for his company's products. A professional trickster by trade, known for his dishonesty in selling a product that he knows harms users, Nick divides his time skillfully working in his field while also struggling to appear as a role model to his young son.

Throughout his twenties, Reitman turned down numerous opportunities to direct feature-length movies. He preferred instead to direct short films and commercials until he had honed his craft and was confident enough to take on a larger-budgeted project. The years Reitman spent developing his style no doubt contributed to Thank You for Smoking‘s immediate success. There are no amateur mistakes or any signs the film is directed by someone who is unsure of himself or his abilities. It’s carefully crafted, beautifully shot, and has a remarkably clever screenplay by Reitman taken largely faithfully from the original novel.

A sharp critique of corporate companies who unscrupulously sell their products without caring for its negative effects on people, Thank You for Smoking would earn Golden Globe nominations for Best Picture (Musical or Comedy) and Best Actor (Eckhart), and ensured young Reitman’s successful transition into feature-length films.

Streaming on Prime Video

Image Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures. 

7. Up in the Air

Up in the Air

One of Reitman's most successful films to date, Up in the Air was his third and largest project at the time, utilizing a significantly larger budget than the films he had previously worked on and a larger cast of Hollywood actors.

Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) is a human resources worker hired by companies when they need someone to be fired, delivering employees' notice of termination face-to-face. When his company has a young, aspiring up-and-comer (Anna Kendrick) tag along with him, the two travel to various destinations in the US, with the junior employee soon learning the ruthless realities of her trade and Ryan confronting the moral implications that his work and lifestyle have on his personal life.

Featuring a star-studded cast (led by Clooney, Kendrick, Vera Farmiga, and their co-stars Jason Bateman, Melanie Lynskey, Danny McBride, and Zach Galifianakis), Up in the Air is the perfect meditation on the far more complex side of business, namely the moral repercussions of firing people, essentially throwing their lives in complete disarray.

Casting the famously suave, handsome Clooney as the nuanced main character made for a brilliant decision, with Clooney portraying a surface-level sense of charisma and confidence, while also balancing the air of emotional dissatisfaction and unhappiness he feels as a result of his occupation.

It's a brilliant parallel to show the outwardly successful life business executives have (they dress well, they look good, and they have plenty of money), contrasted with the emptiness they feel actually conducting their business. In one scene, Ryan asks one employee “How much did [your company] first pay you to give up on your dreams?” The kicker being, of course, that like everyone he fires, Clooney’s character has similarly given up on his own dreams a long time ago.

So far, Up in the Air is one of the films that Reitman has received the most critical attention, earning Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress (both Farmiga and Kendrick), and Best Adapted Screenplay, along with numerous other nominations from various award ceremonies.

Streaming on HBO Max, Hulu and Prime Video (premium subscriptions required for latter two)

Image Credit: DreamWorks Pictures. 

8. Juno

Jason Reitman Movies

Reitman's second film, and still one of his most popular and successful movies to date, Juno is also one of the most complex, comedic, emotional coming-of-age stories ever put to film. Written by Diablo Cody, the movie is an exploration of the numerous emotions a young girl confronts when faced with an unplanned pregnancy, as well as the various effects it has on her family and loved ones (including the baby's father).

Set in a Midwestern town, the intelligent, strong-willed sixteen-year-old Juno (Elliot Page) has her life turned upside down when she discovers she is pregnant. Unsure of what to do with the baby and uncertain of her relationship with the father (a fellow high school student played by Michael Cera), Juno contemplates giving the baby away to a seemingly happy couple (Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner), grappling with her own thoughts about what is best for both herself and her unborn child.

Critically acclaimed upon its release in 2007, Juno put at the top of numerous critics' top 10 lists for the year, eventually winning the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, and earning nominations for Best Picture, Best Actress (Page), and Best Director.

As is the case with most of Reitman's movies, there's no villain or central conflict. It's all just individuals trying to sort their lives out. It's this refreshingly human aspect to the story and its portrayal of everyone, regardless of their individual quirks, ages, and temperaments, and each with their own distinct aspirations, that make this movie so enjoyable to watch.

Full of heart and emotion, Juno continues to rank favorably as Reitman's crowning cinematic achievement, and it is easily one of the finest movies to come out of the 2000s.

Streaming on Hulu and Prime Video (premium subscriptions required for both)

Image Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures. 

Final Thoughts

Since his debut with 2005's Thank You for Smoking, Reitman boasts a long career full of career highs, with only a marginally low number of negatively received movies.

From Juno to Tully to Up in the Air, his movies offer introspective looks into mentally and emotionally conflicted heroes, unsure of themselves and their direction in life, eventually learning to adapt and better themselves and their situations with the help of their friends and loved ones.

Based on his filmography thus far, we're sure Reitman has a long, successful career ahead of him, and we look forward to seeing the movies the relatively young director will make in the future.

Like everyone, we’re curious where Ghostbusters: Afterlife will appear on this list, so we'll all have to see it in theaters on November 19 to find out.

Additionally, we also encourage you to check out Reitman's amazing “fan-made” recreation of The Princess Bride, starring a huge ensemble cast (J. K. Simmons, Tiffany Haddish, Adam Sandler, Chris Pine, Jack Black, Paul Rudd, Zoe Saldana, Mackenzie Davis, Hugh Jackman, Elijah Wood, Diego Luna, Finn Wolfhard, Javier Bardem, Pedro Pascal, Charlize Theron, Jason Segel, and many, many more), all filming their roles on iPhones and then edited together.

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This post was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

Feature Image Credit: Tully Productions.


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Richard Chachowski is a freelance writer based in New Jersey. He loves reading, his dog Tootsie, and pretty much every movie to ever exist (especially Star Wars).