Jason Reitman does not think you will finish reading this interview. Which isn't to say Reitman thought it went poorly. Though, he did call it "the most esoteric interview I've ever done." (He has a point.)
Here's what happened: Film festivals are an endurance test for both journalists and filmmakers. For filmmakers, in particular, it can be a never ending parade of answering the same questions over and over again. Jason Reitman famously made a pie chart during his press tour for "Up in the Air," chronicling how many times he'd been asked the same question. I have to admit, this pie chart always made me wary of interviewing Reitman -- and it was on my mind when we sat down to talk. Nobody wants to be a statistic. Still, on the day that this interview happened, it was late enough into the Toronto International Film Festival that both of us had reached a bit of a breaking point, meaning the conversation did drift into some esoteric waters.
Reitman is in Toronto in support of his new film, "Labor Day" (in theaters Dec 25). Set in 1987 and based on the novel by Joyce Maynard, "Labor Day" tells the story of an escaped convict (Josh Brolin) who finds refuge -- at first by force -- with a single mother (Kate Winslet) and her young son (Gattlin Griffith). Soon, a deeper relationship forms between the three (helped by an important scene involving the trio and a peach pie).
When Jason Reitman laughs, he lets out a hearty bellow. I point this out because he laughs a lot during this exchange, which only made me want to laugh, too. Which is probably a reason we drifted off topic so much -- it was fun. So, if Reitman's to be believed, you're most likely never going to finish reading this interview. Just know that two human beings at a film festival did find at least some solace while talking about Garbage Pail Kids, of all things.
I've been wary to interview you after you made a pie chart keeping track of all the times you were asked the same question.
[Laughs] I've long left the pie chart behind. I appreciate you bringing that up. Well, it's an interesting process, what we're doing. And that's what I was trying to look at.
It's interesting and a little ridiculous.
Well, only in that there's sense that we are doing a scene here, you and I. And it's dialogue that we both rehearsed.
I'm not as rehearsed as maybe I should be. And I understand why you have to give the same answer if it's the same question.
Right. And I understand, frankly, why they ask the same question. There are certain things that people want to hear about. But, the process of doing it is somewhat like being a crazy person. You just say the same thing over and over and over again. So, the pie chart, for me, was just kind of an interesting look into that. And it was amazing, frankly, how often.
From my side of it, it comes off looking almost embarrassing.
I wasn't trying to be a dick. I was sincerely ... look, I did more press on that film than I will ever do on another film. And, yeah, I got asked "What's it like to work with George Clooney?" I think over 200 times.
I almost jokingly started this interview for "Labor Day" with "What's it like to work with George Clooney?" just to see what would happen.
[Laughs] You know what the best part is? If you ask me now, though, I would finally have an original answer for "What's it like to work with George Clooney?" You'd have jogged my brain and I'd have been, "Oh, I need to think about that." As opposed to "What's it like to work with Kate Winslet?" or "What's it like to work with Josh Brolin?" -- which I have, oh my God, I've got something so ready in the chamber.
I would be terrible on your side of things, giving answers to questions like that, that I thought people would think are interesting.
Oh, really? I doubt that.
[Reitman proceeds to turn the tables, asking me questions about my job to try to prove his point. I will spare you this exchange because I promise you my answers were as boring as I expected them to be, though the subject of Internet comments came up.]
Do you read the Internet about yourself?
Was there a final straw?
There was no final straw. I think there's no positive reason to read the Internet comments about yourself. No matter what.
I'm glad we agree.
We solved this one.
If this were "The A-Team," we could jump in the air and it would freeze-frame.
I'm fascinated by the '80s references in "Labor Day." I recently bought the same Coleco Donkey Kong portable game that's in the movie.
I did the same thing with Garbage Pail Kids. I went online once and I bought all of the first series -- and that was cool. I remember more clearly, than anything else, begging my parents to take me to the store and buy Garbage Pail Kids.
Wasn't series two the same as series one, just with different names?
No, you're misremembering. What happened was, in each series, there were two identical characters and they would have different names. So, Adam Bomb was also some other thing.
This part is going to look great on that pie chart.
[Laughs] Hm. But, the images, those animated images are burned into my memory. All these memories flush back when I see them. The kid that's getting sucked down the drain. And the identical twin girls that are looking at each other. Jason Basin was the kid going down the drain, then it was something "drain." Duane Drain!
People might not see "Labor Day" after this interview, but they will buy Garbage Pail Kids.
[Laughing] All right, if you don't mind, I'm going to have to buy some stock in Garbage Pail Kids before this prints.
Start hoarding them, then sell them on eBay the day this publishes.
[Laughs] OK, what do you think is harder to find online? A complete Series One of Garbage Pail Kids or a DVD of the "The Garbage Pail Kids Movie"?
I would say the latter?
That's an interesting quandary, though, right?
It's Sophie's choice.
[Laughs] I saw the movie in the theaters. That was a bad movie. That was worse than the "Super Mario Bros." movie. As a director, it's not my place to shit on other movies. And I rarely do. But, I think I'm going to safely... [Reitman's publicist informs us we can buy the "The Garbage Pail Kids Movie" online.] Is it on Netflix? Who directed "The Garbage Pail Kids Movie"? It's going to be someone brilliant. It's going to be Bill Condon.
Or Sidney Lumet.
[We are informed it is Rod Amateau] I don't know who that is. It's $4.99 on DVD. Did you ever see it?
A long time ago. I do like that these references don't hit you over the head in the film. No one says, "I'm going out to buy parachute pants," or something.
Or my Rubik's -- what was the Rubik's?
No. It was rectangular and it had the three circles.
Rubik's Chain? Or Rubik's Magic?
Yeah, it was a chain. It had three circles and you could refold it so it had that shape, then you could refold it into a rectangle. No, you're right, it's not "The Wedding Singer" where it's an '80s movie with A Flock of Seagulls. We tried to treat 1987 for this film the same way one would traditionally do a movie about 1887.
The characters see "D.A.R.Y.L." at the movie theater.
Well, "D.A.R.Y.L." actually came out that weekend in 1987. And I thought that it was important that Henry chose the movie -- it was obvious that the boy chose the movie, not the mom. I would have gone "Cloak & Dagger," also, if that had been in the vicinity.
Jack Flack! God, good memory.
Of Dabney Coleman's movies, that's the one that doesn't get played enough on television today.
I remember getting emotional when I watched "Cloak & Dagger" as a kid. I remember it really got to me, for some reason.
It's probably the father-son aspect of the movie.
Oh, you're probably right. You're right, you're right.
His dad was Jack Flack.
You're right. Do you know what movie also got to me as a kid, an '80s movie? What was the one where Sean Astin goes to summer camp -- or, it's a climbing camp?
"White Water Summer."
My friend and I always quote the last scene in that movie, where you think Sean Astin is in the woods but he's actually in Central Park, and he says, "Not this puppy." Then, "Be Good to Yourself" by Journey plays.
Wow, you remember it better than I do. I just remember thinking of it as really dramatic when I saw that as a kid.
Kevin Bacon was frightening.
He was really scary. "You will climb this mountain." ... Here's the thing with 1987. What makes it more difficult than 1887 is that you probably don't know 1887. If I put in something from 1867 in 1887, you wouldn't go, "Bullshit!" With 1987, for instance, I'll show you, there's an inaccuracy in that movie. You know that "E.T." poster he has on the wall? That's from the home video, not from the release. And home video was 1988.
It took a long time for "E.T." to come out on home video.
It was easier to get "The Garbage Pail Kids Movie."
This is the most fun I've had all weekend. This is the most esoteric interview I have ever done.
Will you make a pie chart about it?
This is un-piechartable. And, by the way, here's the best part of this: It actually falls into the "Labor Day" thing, because it's pie. And Garbage Pail Kids would have been a large slice of pie.
Do I have time to ask something else?
Ask what it's like to work with Josh and Kate.
What was it like working with Anna Kendrick?
Henry has a lot "Star Wars" paraphernalia. A lot of kids had moved on to G.I. Joe and Transformers by then.
I was still playing with all the figures in 1987. Oh, and in my toy death match, they all got involved.
I never did that.
You never did toy death match?
I never combined toys.
Really? [Starts clapping]
The scale was off.
Snake Eyes was never at a tea party with Boba Fett?
But the G.I. Joe characters and the Star Wars characters were the same size.
The G.I. Joe characters had much more articulation. They looked like they were from different universes.
[Laughs] That's really funny.
I'm the oddball, I guess.
Yeah. I'm Alien versus Predator. Can you really write an article about this? What are you possibly going to write?
I think I'll present it at a straight Q&A.
Ha! Did you ever read the Slate article how no one ever finishes online articles?
Are you hinting that no one is going to finish this one?
I have a feeling -- only the true diggers who are like "How could this possibly end?"
Mike Ryan is senior writer for Huffington Post Entertainment. You can contact him directly on Twitter.