Thank You For Smoking

 
Directed by: Jason Reitman
Written by:Jason Reitman
Starring: Aaron Eckhart, Maria Bello, Cameron Bright, Adam Brody, Sam Elliott, Katie Holmes, Rob Lowe, William H. Macy, J.K. Simmons, Robert Duvall
Released: August 24, 2006
Grade: A-

Smoking is bad for you.  Few people will dispute this fact.  I have never smoked myself but what if I wanted to?  I could have a shorter life than I would otherwise but I’m mature enough to know the risks and the ultimate choice is mine.  It’s my life and I’ll do what I want with it.

This logic is behind the great new film, Thank You For Smoking.  Nick Naylor (Eckhart) is a lobbyist for the tobacco industry.  In other words, he gets paid to promote smoking.  When asked how he can live with himself, Naylor responds with the fact that everyone is entitled to a defence.  There are many outspoken critics of smoking and so why shouldn’t the industry be allowed to fight back?

Given the restrictions on tobacco advertising, Nick’s latest plan is to get smoking back on the big screen.  He travels to Hollywood with his son, Joey (Bright), and meets with super-agent Jeff Megall (Lowe) to talk business.  Jeff has a futuristic sci-fi movie in production with Brad Pitt and Catherine Zeta-Jones and for a mere $25m, he can ensure they “light up” after a steamy sex scene.

Thank You For Smoking boasts a big cast and there are many inter-related storylines.  Polly (Bello) and Bobby (David Koechner) are advocates for the alcohol and gun industries and Nick meets with them weekly to discuss ideas.  Heather Holloway (Holmes) is a young journalist who is looking to grill Nick for information to expose him in a newspaper article.  Senator Finistirre (Macy) is a strong anti-smoking campaigner and is trying to pass legislation requiring poison pictures to be included on packaging.  “The Captain” (Duvall) is one of the most powerful men in the tobacco industry and uses his money to protect his interests.

It’s a remarkably interesting film that makes you think about the “spin” that is generated by both sides to get their point across.  We are often slaves to the media and if you take something away from this movie, it’s that you don’t have to share the same opinions of others.  We all have our own brains and we all have our own interests.

If you’re not yet sold, you need to see this film for the top-notch performance of Aaron Eckhart.  He’s the perfect person to play Nick Naylor and it’s his best role since I first saw him in 1997’s In The Company Of Men.  He somehow manages to make his character both likeable and dislikeable at the same time.

Based on the novel by Christopher Buckley, this creative film has been written and directed by 29-year-old Jason Reitman.  Jason is newcomer in the industry but he comes from a strong form line.  His father, Ivan, directed such comedy classics as Stripes, Ghost Busters and Kindergarten CopSmoking tries to squeeze in a little too much into its 90 minutes (a few storylines are under-explored) but the end result is a smart flick which I’d love to see again.