From the Video Shop: Thank You for Smoking
2005 - United States - 92 minutes
Writer and Director - Jason Reitman from a novel by Christopher Buckley
My Rating - 4 of 5 Stars
This movie turned out to be a very pleasant surprise as I was expecting your run-of-the-mill comedy. Not only is it witty in a subtle, sophisticated way, but it is also extremely intelligent in its approach to the subject - spin doctors and the stories they spin.
It is the story of Nick Naylor who is the major spokesman for big tobacco and his quest to keep his job as well as establish a strong bond of communication with his pre-adolescent son. His major foe in the public eye is Senator Ortolan Finistirre of Vermont. It has been decided by the big bosses that Nick should travel to Hollywood in order to arrange for the romantic stars of a movie be smokers as were the stars of yesteryear - think of Bette Davis and Paul Henreid in Now, Voyager which contains probably the greatest cigarette lighting and smoking scene ever filmed. Along the way, Nick faces the problems of an investigative reporter and The Marlboro Man who is dying of lung cancer and suing big tobacco. Probably the most subtle and humorous irony of all of this is that there in not one cigarette smoked in the entire film.
Aaron Eckhart does a bang-up job of portraying Nick Naylor. He makes the viewer really believe this character even though such blatant lies come from his mouth. All the while you wonder at this outwardly totally amoral man and his loving relationship with his son. Speaking of his son, Cameron Bright gives that character just the right combination of innocence and savvy of a budding young man trying to relate to his father.
Nick's machinations are supported by no less than Robert Duvall and Rob Lowe who turn in great tongue-in-cheek performances.
As Senator Finistirre, William H. Macy almost steals the film - as is often the case considering his ultimate acting skills. As a young man, Macy attended Goddard College in Vermont. Having experienced Goddard at that time through my brother who both taught and was an administrator there, it surely becomes clear that Macy used some of the "characters" he knew at Goddard to create a humorously definitive Vermonter.
If you love intelligent and very witty satirical humor and enjoy watching good actors at their craft, you won't be disappointed with Thank You for Smoking.
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