27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Thank You For Smoking is one of those few dark comedies that truly had me laughing all the way; and I can't remember how long it's been since I laughed so much watching a movie! The lines are funny; the acting is convincing and the movie manages to make a great point about "spin" (aka bulls***) in today's world.
The action begins with tobacco lobbyist Nick Naylor (Aaron Eckhart) appearing on a talk show to put a spin on the fact the smoking causes cancer. Nick, smirking all the way, says that the tobacco companies want a boy with cancer to live so they could keep another customer. Nick argues further that health officials would love to see the young "cancer boy" die so their budgets would be fatter. This is just the tip of the iceberg, folks; Nick goes through his whole life putting a spin on tobacco to make it seem safe, romantic and glorious.
Nick's partners in crime include two people he meets for lunch from time to time; and they call themselves "The Mod Squad." Look for great performances by Maria Bello as Polly Bailey and David Koechner as Bobby Jay Bliss who work for the alcohol and gun lobbies respectively. Nick's slave driving boss, B.R. (J.K. Simmons) puts in a great performance and the head honcho of the tobacco group, simply referred to as "Captain," is played wonderfully by Robert Duvall.
Nick's personal life isn't peachy--he's separated from his wife. When a seductive female reporter Heather Holloway (Katie Holmes) gets the real scoop on Nick's secrets and lets it all out in a tell-all article in a prominent Washington, D.C. newspaper, Nick's world comes crashing down around him.
Will Nick be able to bounce back from the negative publicity he gets? Will he keep his friends and his job? What will his young, impressionable son Joey (Cameron Bright) think of him when the whole truth comes out? Watch the movie to find out these answers and more, folks--there are no spoilers here!
The DVD comes with a plethora of extras. We get an interview with Aaron Eckhart and others on The Charlie Rose Show; there are quite a few deleted scenes with optional director's commentary; there's a brief "making of" featurette; a director and cast commentary; storyboard and more! I am very impressed.
Overall, I would highly recommend Thank You For Smoking for people who enjoy indie movies that are really funny and try to playfully make a point at the same time. You'll notice that no one in the film is ever filmed smoking a cigarette! However, this is not a family movie; there is a fair amount of swearing and there are some violent scenes that could upset small children. (The kidnapping scene is one of them; but I won't say much more to save the juicy plot for you.)
Now THAT'S what I call a great flick!
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on January 5, 2007
To be brief, Thank You for Smoking is one of my favorite movies in recent years. It's witty and smart without being a movie that you need to set out too much time for, given that its runtime is a mere 92 minutes.
While it is brief and inviting to pick up and watch, it does have a serious touch of satire in it, providing a critique of modern day society's overall standards and morals. In one scene in particular Nick Naylor, the main character, talks to his son in a way that makes his job appear even noble, while protecting corporations that claim thousands of lives each year.
Overall, without getting too technical: at LEAST rent this if you like satires, but if you enjoy sarcastic wit and humor, the odds are in favor of a purchase.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on April 5, 2006
George S. Kaufman once said, "Satire is what closes on Saturday night," and Hollywood has pretty much heeded that advice ever since. There are few political satires that come out of La-La Land, and even fewer--"Dr. Strangelove" comes to mind--that are commercially successful. This is why Jason Reitman's "Thank You for Smoking," based on the novel by Christopher Buckley, is so welcome. Particularly in today's poisonous political atmosphere, it is wonderful and refreshing to see a movie that is so clever, so witty, and so worldly-wise about America's true national sport--spin-doctoring--and how all sides play it to their advantage. Aaron Eckhart is wonderfully sleazy as Nick Naylor, a hired gun for the tobacco industry who delights in unleashing his brilliant verbiage in the service of making anti-smoking advocates look like the Gestapo. Only occasionally--such as when he's with his young son (Cameron Bright)--does Nick feel any twinges of conscience about using his talents in order to persuade people to suck poison down their lungs. But then again, Nick is positively cuddly compared with some of his adversaries, such as backstabbing reporter Heather Hathaway (Katie Holmes) and self-righteous Vermont Senator Ortolan Finistirre (William H. Macy), whose crunchy-granola politics mask the heart of a ruthless political hatchetman. "Thank You for Smoking" is stuffed with excellent comic performances, including Maria Bello and David Koechner as Nick's fellow spin doctors in the alcohol and firearms industries; J.K. Simmons as Nick's treacherous, blowhard boss; Rob Lowe and Adam Brody as a couple of flaky, motormouthed Hollywood egomaniacs; and especially the great Robert Duvall as "The Colonel," a courtly throwback to the time when Big Tobacco was King. For lovers of cinematic sarcasm, "Thank You for Smoking" is a welcome breath of smoky, mentholated, nicotine-tinged air.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on October 27, 2006
It would be difficult to live up to the hype I heard about this film, and in fact, the movie does not quite rise, in my opinion, to the estatic reviews I read several months ago when it was on the big screen in big cities. There are indeed some big laughs, and many smiles and smirks generated by the cynical story line: honorable man, good dad, makes a living shilling for a horrid product. Along the way he meets and beds a dishonorable reporter, confronts and bests sleazy talk show hosts and Congressmen, and tries to balance loving his son with a public promise to "buy him his first pack of cigarettes when he turns 18 if he wants them." It was an interesting choice for the film's creators to try to humanize a tobacco lobbyist, and in my view, they succeeded at that. Despite despising the product he promotes, I had to root for Nick to prevail in his various trials. If there could exist such a compliment as "At least he is honestly dishonest" Nick would have earned it. Worth seeing for its twisted heroes and villains and smart writing, yet not quite the dark comic masterpiece it might have been.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Jason Reitman may have gotten into movies via nepotism (his dad is Ivan Retiman of "Ghostbusters" fame), but with "Thank You for Smoking," he proves that he belongs in the game. This is one of the smartest, funniest satires in years.
Two things make the movie work. The first is Reitman's restraint. This is a movie about smoking, and yet we don't get any of the obvious scenes of people miserably puffing away on cigarettes, slowly killing themselves for our amusement. Instead, nobody really smokes in the movie - the best humor in this situation, lies in America's hypocrisy about smoking rather than the act of smoking itself.
"Thank You For Smoking" examines the ludicrous truth that one of America's most profitable industries essentially kills 1,200 people a day. And why does it do so? For several reasons, but mainly because Americans are sheep willing to be sheared, so long as we are told what we want to hear.
Enter Nick Naylor, played perfectly by Aaron Eckhart ("In the Company of Men," "Erin Brockavich"). Naylor is head spokesman for the tobacco industry, and he was born to do it. The self-proclaimed Michael Jordan of spin can go onto a TV talk show, face an audience of sanctimonious nitwits who want nothing more than to boo the evil tobacco industry, and walk off the stage having received the handshake of a teenaged lung cancer victim and also having created the impression that the tobacco industry cares more about its customers' lives than the public interest groups who merely want a martyr.
Naylor is riding high, and becomes the heir apparent to the Colonel (Robert Duvall), Mr. Big in Big Tobacco. Naylor goes to Hollywood to negotiate with Mr. Hollywood (Rob Lowe) about getting cigarettes back into movies. Naylor does this while lunching with fellow MOD Squad ("Merchant of Death") members, lobbyists representing alcohol and firearms, and trying to educate his son about what is great about America. Our greatness boils down to two things, Naylor tells his son - our endless appeals system, and the fact that if you can argue correctly, you are never wrong.
Eckhart nails this role (pardon the pun). What makes this a great performance is that Eckhart does not play Naylor as a true believer, either in tobacco or the morality of the game he plays. He is just very, very good at his job, and he's got a mortgage. "99% of what goes on in the world, for good or evil, is motivated by the fact that people have to pay the mortgage."
Naylor's life takes a sudden turn south as he is (a) threatened with murder (and there is something about the threat that makes it realistic) and (b) starts sleeping with a probing journalist (Katie Holmes), when he should know better than nothing will be 'off the record.' But these two scenarios merely create a higher wire for our acrobatic hero to negotiate, and he does so with style and panache.
"Thank You For Smoking" may make you shift uncomfortably in your seat a few times, but it will make you laugh a heck of a lot more. And, rarest of all for movies these days, it will make you think. What a great movie.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
The old saying is that satire is what closes on Saturday night, but I hope "Thank You For Smoking" belies the rule because we need all the wry and sardonic laughter we can get in these days of being squeezed by the religious Right on one hand and the politically correct Left on the other.
Absolutely politically incorrect is Aaron Eckhart's fast-talking, unabashed, unrepentant Big Tobacco spokesman in this very funny film about lobbying, spin, and turning a few conventions on their head. Eckhart's great charm and enthusiasm invigorates a story that may not be plot-heavy but is laced with wry observance and sharp asides, one-liners and telling character details.
Fast and light on its feet, the film benefits by a first rate cast turning in nicely nuanced turns, and congratulations to Jason Reitman and his backers for keeping the film true to its vision and not allowing it to go soft and mushy or copping-out in any sense all the way to its conclusion.
Amazingly, every once and awhile one of these films comes along that gets made the way it should, and is allowed to remain intact and un-Hollywoodized or otherwise reduced to mass comfortability. This is one of those, and while it wears its cynicism lightly, it doesn't miss jabbing at the pomposity and hypocrisy found in Washington DC, Hollywood, the Media and the culture in general. There are a lot of other targets out there that could use similar treatment. Let's hope.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on November 14, 2006
I tend to be hard on a lot of major motion pictures because, to be frank, they mostly suck. However, this only turned into a "major motion picture" after Fox Searchlight bought it after it's screening at the Sundance Film Festival. Before that it was the vision of fledgling director Jason Reitman to independently bring Christopher Buckley's tremendously smart and funny book of the same name to the screen... and he does a good job. There's a reason why this film is loaded with the (mostly unpaid or underpaid) who's who of Hollywood talent. The script and screenplay are that good. This is not the typical low-brow, fart-joke riden crap you're used to seeing out of Hollywood. There are good acting performances throughout as well. If you are a person of above average wit and have a dry sense of humor, you'll like it.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on June 7, 2006
This is a wag-the-dog satire, with a sly humor that is not put into films these days. The narration is used with percision when describing the horrid position the protagonist, Nick Naylor, occupies lobbying for virtually all tobacco industries. The one-liners between people like the MOD squad, Merchants of Death, comprising of Nick himself, the lobbyist for firearms, and the lobbyist for alcohol, made me giggle like a little school girl. The only thing that keeps this movie from getting five stars is that it seemed to end abruptly. I wanted more!
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 22, 2007
Here's a good example of how smart, literary satire doesn't translate well onto the screen. Thank You For Smoking does have some big laughs, but it just doesn't hang together as a movie. The titles are extremely good - and it does contain one high concept joke - no one is actually ever seen smoking a cigarette throughout the entire picture. But film is a "show me don't tell me" medium, and Nick's tiresome monologues, required to set up point of view and plot turns, show the fingerprints of a director with young and heavy hands.
What this film does get right is the pitch; cynicism is rampant and shows up consistently, there are no heroes. Robe Lowe is perfectly cast as the completely soul-less super-agent, and the brief moments his assistant spends on screen are memorable. The reliable Sam Elliott is note perfect - his moral outrage quivers visibly with the proximity of cash. Robert Duvall, who by now could mail in a performance like this, is very comfortable as the "Captain" - tobacco industry ruler - and even seems to exhibit some remorse at the idea of killing his grand-daughter. J.K. Simmons - a consistently excellent actor - is outstanding as BR, our protagonist's ruthless boss who pretty much epitomizes opportunism. Katie Holmes as Heather Holloway is enchanting as she steals our hope that the fourth estate might be on a morally higher plane than everyone else in the miasma.
The kidnapping episode, the book's lynch pin, is used, but abused, it seems to drop out of the air then conveniently disappear. But that's not the film's overriding problem. Aaron Eckhart as Nick is winning, but completely uninteresting. Any engaging substance this film might have generated would have come from Nick's personality, and inner struggle with the facile way he bends truth. Since we never see anything remotely resembling a personality, we can't like him or dislike him, we just look at him as a hideous reflection of what we've become, a symbol of the manipulative and disingenuous forces surrounding us. For Nick, and for everyone here, truth isn't even an issue anymore; the issue is, what is sell-able? It's an accurate social observation that would have made a good essay, did make a good book, and didn't make a good movie.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
I loved this film. I thought it was one of the finest comedic films in a long time. Too bad, it was released to early in the year to get the Oscar momentum. Aaron Eckhart should have earned a Best Actor nomination easily. I saw this film on an airplane to or from London. I thought it was one of the best films around. It was smart, witty, and spoke volumes about the hypocrisy of the anti-smoking attitudes.
No, I'm not a smoker but I'm not a zealot neither. I don't need Atlantic City to become smoke free. It would lose it's appeal as the only place in New Jersey where smoking is not only tolerated but allowed. Have we become a society where smoking is villified as public enemy number? Smoking is a choice. We know all the dangers about it from the cigarette pack labels and how smoking kills you.
Yes, smoking can lead to lung cancer, emphysema, and heart problems but so can stress, anxiety, and unhealthy eating habits. The health food gestapo is already on our case about that we drink and eat poorly. Yes, I know soda is not good for me healthwise but I can't change my habits after a lifetime. I know that eating chocolate, cheese, and junk food is unhealthy but it's still my choice.
Smokers have the right to choose to stop smoking or continue. The smokers who blame their addictions on the smoking industry are looking for compensation for their addiction when it was themselves who placed the cigarette in their mouths without force. Smoking is not healthy and probably caused my father to die sooner than he should but I don't blame the tobacco industry for our country's ills.
You are far more dangerous to get killed by somebody talking on his/cell phone while driving. Smoking is used by most smokers to alleave the stress and anxiety in their lives. If you can cure stress and anxiety for all of us, we wouldn't need smoking or any other vice like caffeine to stop us. Until then, let smokers be who and what they are. Did it ever occur to anybody that maybe smokers don't want to live that long anyway? No, they just assume that we want to live to be a 100 and for what, so somebody can announce your birthday on the Today show.