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You'll need to inhale, then exhale slowly and relax before plunging
into the world of Nick Naylor (Aaron Eckhart), lobbyist and bag man for
the Tobacco Industry. The laughs are some of the best abdominal
exercise I've ever had at the movies. Thank You for Smoking is far and
away the best satire to come out of Hollywood in years. The last
attempt I remember was WAG THE DOG. This film is far better at true
satire, its wit biting do-gooders and do-badders alike. It has been too
long since Satire and the Politically Incorrect Sense of Humor have
been allowed to point out the absurd in all sides of an issue. If you
don't laugh out loud, your sense of humor has become a casualty of
malpractice by the Doctors of Spin and the Nursemaids of Political
Young Jason Reitman's direction and screenplay are deft and light. He is never heavy-handed, or worse, condescending (as may have happened more than once in WAG THE DOG). Based on a novel by Christopher Buckley (the son of William F. Buckley), the script is the star here. The double, triple, and sometimes quadruple entendres are spoken conversationally by a star-studded ensemble cast, who clearly revel in great material and great lines. Every reviewer opines that this will be Aaron Eckhart's break-out role. With his Dudley-Do-Right face and "that guy who always gets the girl----- on crack" charm and glibness, his Nick Naylor is the ultimate purveyor of the spin doctor's prescription: "the means justify the end".
The casting director should be congratulated in the same breath as the director. Rob Lowe as the "genius" behind Hollywood "EGO", a consultant firm which helps raise financing for movies with strategic product placement, is note-perfect in a "small role". With William H. Macy, the Vermont Senator who takes on the tobacco industry, Maria Bello, a fellow Merchant of Death lobbyist, and Robert Duvall, the "Captain" of this particular industry--- the cast is jaw-dropping, and sublimely funny. Katie Holmes, pre-TomKat, is gorgeous, seductive, and completely believable as the reporter who stops at nothing to get her story.
Nick Naylor's relationship with his son is the lens which focuses Nick on his own behavior. Even that relationship is not treated as a cliché, or completely reverently by the satirist, who remains true to the last frame to the goal of letting the air out of our self-righteousness. It is a breath of fresh air. I not only recommend it, I intend to see it again.
First of all, sorry for the cheesy title. I couldn't help myself.
Second of all, "Thank You for Smoking" is, in fact, a darn good satire
- one of the best I've seen since "Election". Aaron Eckhart holds the
picture together with a witty, charismatic performance as a tobacco
lobbyist. The film is basically about his profession as he spins the
news, pitches a movie idea, dodges a subpoena, has an affair with a
reporter (Katie Holmes), tries to spend time with his son (Cameron
Bright), and has lunch with an alcohol lobbyist (Maria Bello) and a
firearms rep (David Koechner) - where they literally compare body
counts. The performances are excellent across the board, from William
H. Macy's crusading Senator to Rob Lowe's smirking Hollywood agent who
struts around his office in a kimono. Even Adam Brody is enjoyable as
Lowe's hyperactive assistant whose in-joke with a co-worker earned one
of the biggest laughs of the movie.
The majority of the credit, however, needs to go to first-time feature director Jason (son of Ivan) Reitman. Adapting from Christopher Buckley's novel, Reitman has fashioned an enormously clever script, consistent and strong in character, yet not forgetting to be incredibly funny. The style is also perfect - brisk, light-hearted, with impeccable timing marred only by a tangental subplot including Sam Elliott that is, sadly, not very funny. Overall, however, the pace is fast enough where the laughs keep coming.
Reitman also does the unthinkable: he keeps the satire dark and funny to the very end. While most comedies stray blindly into the sentimental, "Thank You" avoids unnecessary emotional tripe and - thankfully - avoids sermonizing about the dangers of smoking or of the flaws of the political process. Eckhart's flawless performance and Reitman's wonderful screenplay anchor an uncommonly perceptive comedy, provided you take yours black. If you need a little cream and sugar, "Fun with Dick and Jane" might still be at the dollar theater.
This was the most enjoyable film we saw at Sundance. Smart and funny is
not an easy pairing to find these days. Thank You For Smoking provides
thought provoking content delivered through a network of great acting
performances that make this film so thought provokingly hilarious.
This comedy, unlike many that grace the screen these days, is clean enough to take your parents to, and funny enough that you will forget you are at the movies with your mom. It was truly refreshing how no one in the film was filmed smoking a cigarette. Rob Lowe's character provides a wonderful satire of the corporate film world. I only hope that the intelligence level of this film does not keep it from gaining mainstream appeal.
Just saw this as it premiered in Toronto - awesome cast, very funny dialog, and more than skin deep. First time director does a nice job - and the opening credits are noteworthy. RECOMMENDED. Pokes fun at the smoking industry (and lobbyists), but at others as well, and its hard to disagree with the sharp satire. Rob Lowe's small role is priceless, the casting was perfect across the board. Nick Naylor's (Eckart) relationship with his son is center and keeps some genuine qualities through all the laughs. My friend and I both rated this near the top or at the top of the 7 films we saw in Toronto last weekend. Not sure what its distribution / release schedule is yet, as there was still some debate over who had actually purchased the rights to it. Eckart in person came across as very genuine and is also in another great upcoming movie - Neverwas.
I hate to say it. but this movie is gonna fail in the box office. for the same reason no one showed up to its screening. but this will be one of the most entertaining cult movies ever. although it lacks the glam and actually will turn a lot of people away before they even get to the box office do to the subject matter, but they will all be missing out on a hilariously made movie. I don't think i've laughed this hard in a long long time. this movie isn't really intended to be anti-smoking propaganda, but there is some of it. Its more of a satire on the reality of people and how much we're willing to believe or willing to be dooped. I see it similar to liar liar not being about about the legal system but the moral and ethical decisions of people within society. overall I would have to saw this is a great great movie. Highly recommend it. And could not imagine this movie to turn out any better than it has already been with the perfect cast and great story line. I think the best way to encompass the movie is paraphrased in the movie's catchy advertising line the main character, Nick Naylor doesn't lie, he filters the truth.
I saw this movie at a screening in DC last night. It was great. Aaron
Eckhart, the single leading man with the WORST haircut in Hollywood
(full disclosure - I'm damn near bald) matches very well with the
direction of Reitman. From the get-go, it's a fast-paced send-up of
everyone and everything in the tobacco war. The entire cast does a good
job (w/ the exception, maybe, of Katie Holmes). Rob Lowe is hysterical
in his cameo, but I have to say Eckhart & his MOD squad buddies (Maria
Bello & David Koechner) really light up the screen. Their scenes of
discussing the dealing out of death through the industries they
represent over drinks are a real strong point of the movie.
The fact that this movie doesn't take sides - and really, could be about any issue, because it's more about the MAN behind the spokesperson - but makes fun of all sides in the tobacco issue. The interaction b/w Nick Naylor (Eckhart) & the old Marlboro Man (Sam Elliot) is priceless, as is the back-and-forth between Naylor & Senator Ortolan Finistirre (William H. Macy) towards the end of the film -it's basically good actors doing what they do well - and it's very funny.
The movie's also a little bit touchy-feely, focusing for a bit on the relationship b/w Naylor & his son, Joey (Cameron Bright) - the kid's good & some of the lines written for him are priceless.
There was one odd, stupid thing - and my wife agrees w/ me on this, so I'm not just being a guy; there are 2 'sex' scenes w/ Eckhart & Katie Holmes, but zero nudity. Nada. Not even partial. We see them having sex in multiple places & positions, but they're almost completely clothed. It just took away from the credibility is all I'm trying to point out here - as I said, my wife actually made the comment before I did.
Bottom line, it's a great movie - well worth the price of admission. It's funny, it's entertaining & it moves, what more could you ask for?
I saw this at Sundance last night (actually it was a Salt Lake
screening, and thus the filmmakers didn't bother to drive 30 miles to
talk to us...not that I am bitter...) At first I was a bit worried that
this was going to be the old hat anti smoking movie that makes all
smokers victims of the eeeeevil tobacco companies, but then I saw that
it was based on a Christopher Buckley novel and I relaxed a bit! This
pokes fun at all sides of the issue, from the tobacco lobbyist's
insistence that there has been "no conclusive proof" that tobacco is
harmful, to the legislator's thinking that putting a warning label on
cigarettes will actually make someone pick up a cigarette package, read
the label, and decide not to smoke...as if ANYONE with half a brain
doesn't know that inhaling smoke into your lungs will harm you.
Aaron Eckhart did a fine job in his role, as did Sam Elliot, Rob Lowe, Katie Holmes...I could go on and on. It's fascinating to watch Eckhart's character spin and spin so that he brings people around to his way of thinking. He has to be representing one of the most hated industries in the United States, yet he is able to convince people as to the opposite! I highly recommend this film!
EDITED to omit reported 'spoilers'. And by spoilers I don't mean the
"Bruce Willis is dead" type, but "Bruce Willis is bald" types. *sigh*
Some jobs are harder than others but Nick Naylor (Aaron Eckhart), tobacco industry spokesman, handles his with effortless skill. Along with two other spokespeople for the alcohol- and firearms industry respectively, he is part of the self-appointed M.O.D. squad ("Merchants of Death") whose main objective is to talk. To BS. To spin. To confuse and convince their opponent, and charm their audience. A job of such nature naturally requires a certain moral flexibility, and with smooth-talk and sex appeal, it is apparent that Nick is incredibly gifted in this area.
He goes on TV-shows, verbally battles U.S. senators, deems the Cancer Research Foundation "arseholes" all the while trying to set an example for his 10-year-old son. This is naturally very difficult, doing what he does. So as Big Tobacco (for whom he is a lobbyist) launches a campaign to reinstate the "cool smoking" image into mainstream Hollywood, and sends Nick to work a producer for the proper product-placement, Nick decides to bring his son along for the ride, to see "how daddy works" in hopes to bond with him.
Good satires are hard to come by, but Reitman's "Thank You For Smoking" is so wet with sarcasm and dripping with humour that it is impossible not to enjoy. It navigates the fast-paced industry, the art of talking and spoofs the anti-smoking camp with their chiché "cancer-sick boy in a wheelchair" front (as seen in the opening scene of the film), and it explores the moral flexibility of Americans, without preaching too much in doing so. Only once does it fall prey to predictable moral messages, as when Nick starts reevaluating his work and has moral qualms following his kidnapping by an anti-smoking group, only to swoop down into tongue-and-cheek mode again and return twice as biting and twice as funny.
Although the film is evenly peppered with fun one-liners and perfect delivery from its cast, the best scene is when the M.O.D. squad are at their usual restaurant hang-out at the end of the day and brag to each other and argue over whose business kills the most people per year. Nick: "How many alcohol-related deaths per day? 100,000? That's what... 270 a day? Wow. 270 people, tragedy. Excuse me if I don't exactly see terrorists getting excited about kidnapping anyone from the alcohol-industry." Maria Bello who plays the detached, funny Moderate Spokeswoman for alcohol has great in-your-face aptitude and attitude, "That's stupid arguing." Aaron Eckhart is also hilarious throughout in a shady businessman way (I now have a major crush on him). Out of all the cast, only Nick's little kid Joe chokes on the well-written lines.
In fact, even the cinematography is well-crafted in the film... just the way a scene cuts to another deserves credit, opening with a rapid-fire ironic note. Speaking of which, "Thank You"'s opening montage of cigarette packages as credits is a stroke of genius on Reitman's part. So are the various casting choices the amount of respected actors that have been crammed into supporting roles in impressive (Robert Duvall, Sam Elliot, William H. Macy) and give rise to an almost familiar and "feel-good" tone in the film.
That said, I wouldn't call this "laugh-out-loud worthy" exactly and I didn't care for the ending but it is clear that a lot of thought has been put into Thank You For Smoking every line is a well-articulated kick up the arse to something and delivered by the bucket-load. A very enjoyable little satire.
8 out of 10
Very smart, funny and interesting movie. I seldom say that about any
movie. The story of a lobbyist for the tobacco industry who's job is to
put a spin on cigarettes, improve their image, make them cool again,
and prevent one senator from getting legislature to mandate that
cigarette companies place a large graphic skull and cross bones on each
Nick Naylors character is brilliant. While he was "selling" the public on his ideas and views and convincing them, his own son, and everyone else that he is correct he actually sold me too with his good looks, charm, and logic.
Everyone knows that smoking causes cancer and anyone who attempts to sell or promote it won't garner any sympathy for lagging sales. That's where the spin doctor Nick comes in to teach everyone that smoking is cool.
Ivan Reitman must be so proud. I'm not kidding, his son Jason has come out with a caustic original comedy all his own. I don't know what people outside Los Angeles may make of this. They may think is science fiction when, in fact, most people who have spent any time there knows that this is as normal as going to church in the Vatican. The scenes inside the CAA like agency are even underplayed if you believe that. Aaron Eckhart is as perfect as they come. The charming monster with human sides. William H Macy, Rob Lowe and the rest of the cast are great fun to watch. I'm rooting for this movie to make a zillion bucks. It'll be nice to have more good writing, good acting and good direction in March for a change.
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