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Overall Rating

Awesome: 31.68%
Worth A Look42.57%
Average: 7.92%
Pretty Bad: 6.93%
Total Crap: 10.89%

11 reviews, 35 user ratings

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Thank You for Smoking
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by Matt Seaver

"“No, no, Aaron Eckhart and Jason Reitman. Thank YOU!”"
4 stars

It’s been very difficult lately to get a laugh out of a crowd without going significantly over the top (re: high concept stuff like “Wedding Crashers” or “The 40-Year Old Virgin”). What makes “Thank You for Smoking” so very much fun is that it sits very smugly and confidently on the top, and every once in awhile jumps a little bit. The writing is usually nice and tight, and it approaches the ridiculousness of some situations with such a smirking self-assuredness (literally through the perpetual half-grin on Aaron Eckhart’s face) that you can’t help but giggle.

Eckhart plays Nick Naylor, a Washington, D.C. lobbyist for Big Tobacco. When we meet him, he’s fighting a number of wars: the constant PR war with the public; the all-out assault from a left-wing Vermont senator (William H. Macy) insistent on making an example of Naylor and his clients; a dip in cigarette sales forcing him to come up with new marketing platforms (or successfully resurrect old ones); convincing the former Marlboro Man (Sam Elliot), who is now dying from cancer, to drop his lawsuit and public blasting against his former employers; and most importantly, the battle with his ex-wife about how someone who defends a killer corporation can competently raise their thirteen-year-old son. All this while he also balances a semi-relationship with a print journalist writing a story about him – and sleeping with him to get all the best details. The film follows all of these through the end, with a few amusing side plots.

The best side plot – and the best comedic moments in the film – comes from the meetings of the M.O.D. squad – that’s the Merchants of Death. Naylor’s weekly lunch dates with a lobbyist for the alcohol and firearms industries provide the best laughs in a sick and twisted way, as they basically compare death tolls and argue whose product is most potent and/or offensive. Maria Bello and David Koechner play his friends smartly, with as much enthusiasm as Eckhart himself.

But this film is all Eckhart. His charisma is completely enveloping – despite his questionable morals, you can’t help but like the guy. His honesty about his job is nice and refreshing, and you have to admit, his assurance that “If you argue right, you are right” has a nice ring to it, misguided as it is. Every challenge placed in front of him – moral ambiguity, breakdown, despair, feigned happiness – he handles with grace and a certain concealed glee.

Jason Reitman proves himself competent, but nothing spectacular just yet. But that’s more than enough to make a living in Hollywood, especially if his choice in material stays as adept as it currently is. I haven’t read the book, but if it’s half as amusing as the film, it must be a great read. Reitman captures all the comedy nicely, and makes the switch to more serious material well – Naylor’s close call at the hands of liberal terrorists made my girlfriend cringe, but more because she is a former smoker and knows the effects of “The Patch.” Even without that firsthand attachment, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t cringing a little bit.

“Thank You for Smoking” isn’t a masterpiece, but it’s a great time. It’s a step up from the standard comedies being pumped out nowadays, because it doesn’t assume the viewer is a moron. The entire film is built around Aaron Eckhart, and he steps up to the challenge admirably. He has lived in supporting roles for most of his career, but this should be just what he needed to push him that extra step. Except for a slightly-too-slow to the final climax, “Smoking” is a fun, no-holds-barred ride for an hour and a half. No one is safe from its satirical grip, and that’s the way it should be

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originally posted: 04/07/06 06:09:28
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Toronto Film Festival For more in the 2005 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Sundance Film Festival For more in the 2006 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 South By Southwest Film Festival For more in the 2006 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 U.S. Comedy Arts Festival For more in the 2006 U.S. Comedy Arts Festival series, click here.

User Comments

1/29/10 Simon Solid film,tho Reitman's direction/script too deliberate/cutesy at times, there's potential 4 stars
5/22/09 Jeff Wilder Not as biting as it could be. But works better as a satire than pap like American Dreamz, 4 stars
4/20/08 art AN EXCELLENT SATIRE 4 stars
10/18/07 Jake H laughed all the way through it 5 stars
10/04/07 The Film Maker You're welcome! 3 stars
7/15/07 Bitchflaps Not all that funny, and pretty lightweight stuff for the "biting satire" it was hyped to be 2 stars
7/01/07 LC3 A humorous look at the criminal language of control on all fronts. A must see! 5 stars
6/08/07 Black Smoke A quality satire about the stupidity of current society 4 stars
5/20/07 Vann Helms Embarrassing plot; no one ever smokes 1 stars
4/02/07 fools♫gold high-handed, high-hearted, and highbrowed 5 stars
1/31/07 Albert Stone Hillarious stuff, great satire. I loved it. 5 stars
12/03/06 Monday Morning One of the smartest satires I've ever seen. Hilarious, too. 5 stars
10/25/06 Drew G Aaron Eckharts best film yet 4 stars
10/15/06 Phil M. Aficionado Absolutely the right tone and look and mood; terrific and meaningful satire. 4 stars
10/07/06 jwil best satire in years; disregard the one star comments 5 stars
8/26/06 michael dont let the title scare you away 4 stars
8/25/06 helen bradley very slow slow paced poor scritping boring boring 1 stars
7/07/06 pym Very funny, wonerfully sarcastic, great message: freedom of personal choice. 5 stars
5/22/06 Denise Bauman I enjoyed it. 4 stars
5/11/06 Joel Hoffman Very funny and quick witted. Never a dull moment. I really enjoyed this movie. 4 stars
5/06/06 luke funny, smart. very good film. 5 stars
4/28/06 Jen Wilson Not bad... not sure I would see it again, though 3 stars
4/23/06 Mase Everything you can ask for, from a smart political movie with a topnotch cast. 5 stars
4/22/06 Ryan well cast, light but thoughtful humor 4 stars
4/22/06 Suzz As funny as lung cancer; boring; poorly written; does well by nutcase conservatives 1 stars
4/19/06 Annie G A fascinating look at lobbyists. Funny and thoughtful. 4 stars
4/17/06 Agent Sands Any movie that makes the bad guy look good to the point where it's funny; that's a movie!!! 5 stars
3/30/06 Marco Pole Tired witless banter... Why is it getting attention? Director is Son of Ivan Reitman.. 1 stars
3/28/06 Danny Johanson A great satire! 5 stars
3/12/06 Jack Absolutely amazing. Just saw a screening at the USCAF 5 stars
9/17/05 jim A must see! An excellent film. 5 stars
9/13/05 Alex Brisbourne Excellent script, engagingly constructed 4 stars
9/12/05 Trish Great Movie - saw at TO International Film Fest 4 stars
9/11/05 A Hayes Brilliant 5 stars
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  17-Mar-2006 (R)
  DVD: 03-Oct-2006



Directed by
  Jason Reitman

Written by
  Jason Reitman

  Aaron Eckhart
  Maria Bello
  Sam Elliott
  Katie Holmes
  William H. Macy
  Rob Lowe

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