1 item from 2005
12 September 2005 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »
Thank You for Smoking, a satire about a D.C. lobbyist for Big Tobacco, takes pot shots at just about everything and everybody -- tobacco, guns, liquor, liberals, red-necks, anti- and pro-smoking advocates and self-serving politicians.
It's really about the Age of Spin, where with the right TV spokesperson even Adolph Hitler might come off as a misunderstood individual. If there is a problem with the feature debut of Jason Reitman, it's that the tone and tenor of the movie is far removed from the real world of a D.C. lobbyist. Put it this way: How many times do you suppose MPAA's Jack Valenti got kidnapped during his tenure in Washington?
The movie is amusing and clever but only skin deep. It lacks the acidity and rage of a satire such as Network. While often entertaining, the film keeps hitting the same comic notes. Smoking will find its audiences in upscale and university venues, although it may founder in, say, North Carolina.
Reitman's script, which derives from Christopher Buckley's 1994 novel, delves into the world of Nick Naylor (Aaron Eckhart), a superb practitioner of spin. And what greater challenge than to lobby for the cigarette industry, which kills upward to 1,200 Americans daily? One of the movie's grand touches is frequent lunch sessions Nick has with fellow lobbyists, who speak on behalf of alcohol (Maria Bello) and guns (David Koechner). The group dubs itself the MOD Squad, as in Merchants of Death.
David is divorced from his wife Jill (Kim Dickens) and too often absent from the life of his 12-year-old son Joey Cameron Bright). When Nick takes a keener interest in Joey, especially on a trip to Hollywood, the two begin to bond over their discussions of strategies for making effective arguments in any debate. As Nick tells his son, "If you argue correctly, you're never wrong."
This is the one area where the movie feels real as the father presents his job in a way that makes sense to the boy. The rest of the movie indulges in implausible subplots involving a newspaper reporter (Katie Holmes), who uses sex to get a scoop; a kidnapping in which Nick receives an overdose of nicotine; a Godfather of Tobacco (Robert Duvall) with a dumb ticker; a Vermont senator (William H. Macy), who never has a snappy answer for opponents; and a Hollywood superagent (Rob Lowe), a transparent dig at former agent Mike Ovitz.
Under Reitman's direction, the acting is energetic and scenes flow smoothly and swiftly. Eckhart and Bright are convincing in their father and son roles, but most of the other actors fall back on caricatures, albeit pretty deadly ones. Sam Elliott has a solid sequence as a Marlboro Man dying of cancer.
Jams Whitaker's cinematography and Dana E. Glauberman's editing are sharp while the sound track makes clever use of vintage songs about smoking.
Room 9 Entertainment presents a David Sacks production in association with Content Film
Writer/director: Jason Reitman
Based on the novel by: Christopher Buckley
Producer: David O. Sacks
Director of photography: James Whitaker
Production designer: Steve Saklad
Costumes: Danny Glicker
Music: Rolfe Kent
Editor: Dana E. Glauberman
Nick Naylor: Aaron Eckhart
Joey: Cameron Bright
Jack: Sam Elliott
Heather: Katie Holmes
Jeff Megall: Rob Lowe
Sen. Finistirre: William H. Macy
BR: J.K. Simmons
Captain: Robert Duvall
Running time -- 92 minutes
No MPAA rating
Buena Vista Pictures
Touchstone Pictures and Hyde Park Entertainment present
An Ashok Amritraj production
Director: Anand Tucker
Screenwriter: Steve Martin
Executive producer: Andrew Sugarman
Director of photography: Peter Suschitzky
Production designer: William Arnold
Editor: David Gamble
Costume designer: Nancy Steiner
Music: Barrington Pheloung
Mirabelle Buttersfield: Claire Danes
Jeremy: Jason Schwartzman
Lisa Cramer: Bridgette Wilson-Sampras
Catherine Buttersfield: Frances Conroy
Dan Buttersfield: Sam Bottoms
MPAA rating R
Running time -- 106 minutes »
1 item from 2005
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