Thank You for Smoking
- Jason Reitman
- Reviewed by
- Josť Ruiloba a.k.a. Morris
- Review date
- Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Nick Naylor (Aaron Eckhart) is a lobbyist for the Academy of Tobacco Studies, which means he speaks in their behalf mostly to refute arguments against smoking. An old tobacco baron, ĎThe Captainí (Robert Duvall), wants him to convince the original Marlboro Man (Sam Elliot) against denouncing them; he also sends him to Hollywood to meet up with an exec, Jeff Megall (Rob Lowe), and see what he can do to get big stars smoking on-screen again; meanwhile a beautiful reporter, Heather Holloway (Katie Holmes), is doing an article about him but things eventually become more personal; and he has to deal with Senator Finistirre (William H. Macy), who wants to put a poison warning in every cigarette package. This all happens while Nick is trying to bond with his impressionable son Joey (Cameron Bright) by showing him what he does for a living.
The movie is based on a novel by Christopher Buckley. Many big names had been trying to bring it to the big screen for years, but no one could find the right tone to make the novel justice. Enter Jason Reitman, who wrote the screenplay himself and had good ideas to make it doable. He eventually got backing and a pretty good cast. The rest is history.
I donít like to blame movies for what they arenít, but itís impossible for me not to bring it up when reviewing this one. It is clearly a satire, but its targets are so easy to hit that I was disappointed Reitman didnít go the extra distance. It makes clever jabs and is a very entertaining movie, but itís a project that screams to be taken to a higher level, go over-the-top, be fearless. As it is, it remains soft and occasionally uninvolving. It lacks the edginess it so required.
Having said that, itís important you know that the movie is funny. I especially liked the scenes involving the MOD Squad (standing for ďMerchants of DeathĒ) which have Nick, an alcohol lobbyist (Maria Bello) and a firearms lobbyist (David Koechner) getting together every week for drinks and gossip. The scenes with the Hollywood producer are also a hoot, and Nick convincing the Marlboro Man to take the money is another highlight. The final hearing pays off in a big way and the ending is a treat.
Aaron Eckhart is excellent in a role that requires him to be both likeable and a moron. He threads the line with precision and we do root for him most of the time. He also finds a nice balance when dealing with his son. One moment you think heís the worst parent ever and the next you can see heís doing what he thinks is right and that maybe heís got a point. The rest of the cast is uniformly good, although Iíve always thought of Cameron Bright as a kid who continually seems actor-ly. Macy, Bello and Lowe are standouts.
Great use of songs, by the wayÖ
ďThatís the beauty of argument, if you argue correctly youíre never wrong.Ē
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