THANK YOU FOR SMOKING
Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fire
Release Date: March 17, 2006
Runtime: 92 minutes
Distributor: Fox Searchlight
Director: Jason Reitman
Producer: David Sacks
Writer: Jason Reitman
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Aaron Eckhart stars as Nick, a charismatic, self-classified “talker” who works as a spinmeister for the tobacco lobby. Increasingly under fire from both agenda-driven politicians and the media, Nick is ordered to concoct a strategy to furbish the tobacco industry’s image and to make smoking more appealing to the American public. His efforts lead him to intermingle with a number of movers and shakers, including Tobacco Road magnate The Captain (Robert Duvall), influential Hollywood agent Jeff (Rob Lowe), the cancer-stricken Marlboro Man (Sam Elliott), and a beautiful, seductive journalist (Katie Holmes). Nick’s already difficult task of turning the tobacco industry’s lead into gold meets its match when his nemesis, Vermont Senator Ortolan Finistirre (William H. Macy), pushes legislation for a mandatory poison logo to appear on each pack of cigarettes. Despite his uncanny knack for charming his way through sticky situations, Nick’s skills are tested as he endures a number of trials that include a kidnapping, death threats and an edgy congressional hearing.
Making his directorial debut, Jason Reitman, also credited as the movie’s screenwriter, often impresses with his smart dialogue and fast-paced delivery. The son of director/producer Ivan Reitman, Jason emulates both Wes Anderson’s hipster artiness and talent for saying much with very little, as well as the Coen brothers’ snappy, over-the-top caricatures. Reitman borrows selectively enough, however, to maintain his own aesthetic voice, which shows plenty of potential for future projects. On the other hand, it would be tough to fail with such an outstanding cast.
As Nick, Aaron Eckhart wiles the audience as easily as he enchants his onscreen clientele, and William H. Macy excels at what he does best, annoying and amusing everyone with whom he comes into contact. Perhaps only the retired Jack Palance would have been a better choice to play the former Marlboro Man, but the leather-skinned Sam Elliott handles the part with sobering conviction. Equally convincing is the always-stellar Robert Duvall in the role of the Southern good ole boy tobacco mogul, sipping on mint juleps and offering advice. Rob Lowe’s portrayal of an eccentric Hollywood agent obsessed with Asian culture is priceless, and Katie Holmes is perfect for the role of a Washington journalist-temptress whose elastic morality stretches to whatever extent necessary to acquire a sexy lead.
While the tobacco lobby is certainly an easy pigeon to razz, THANK YOU FOR SMOKING succeeds because it doesn’t limit its mockery to the corporate cancer-stick pushers, but satirizes the full array of red-faced parties involved in the war on tobacco. From the career-minded liberal politician hoping to improve his image, to product-placement happy moviemakers in Hollywood, to a public lacking self-control and discretion, the movie doesn’t discriminate in its dart-throwing and nails each target in the bull’s-eye.
When Nick’s occupation is questioned by his adoring young son (Cameron Bright), he tells him, "If you argue correctly, you're never wrong." The ludicrousness of this rationalization not only drives Nick, but underlies the actions of many of his self-serving opponents and colleagues as well. THANK YOU FOR SMOKING effectively jeers this moral relativism, which serves as the movie’s recurrent punchline.
THANK YOU FOR SMOKING is a very comical and engaging satire, packed with both wit and candor. Regretably, the movie carries its share of offensive material, including humanist worldview elements, strong language and sexual content. Therefore, MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution.
THANK YOU FOR SMOKING is a comical and engaging movie. While the tobacco lobby is an easy target, the movie succeeds because it satirizes the full array of parties involved in the war on tobacco. From the career-minded liberal politician hoping to improve his image, to product-placement happy moviemakers, to a public lacking self-control and discretion, the movie doesn’t discriminate in its dart-throwing, and nails each target in the bull’s-eye. Although the movie implies the dangers of moral relativism, it also contains offensive material, including humanist worldview elements, strong language and sexual content. Therefore, MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution.