Rated R for language and some sexual content.
Written and Directed by: Jason Reitman
Staring: Aaron Eckhart, Maria Bello, William H. Macy, Katie Holmes, Cameron Bright, Rob Lowe, Joan Lunden, Robert Duvall, and David Koechner
That’s the beauty of argument, if you argue correctly, you’re never wrong. -Nick Naylor
This is a film that puts spin on spin on top of spin. Thank You For Smoking is so clever and delivers so many great performances it’s amazing this film didn’t get more recognition. It’s a film that offers the sides of right and wrong and twists and contorts each point of view in an almost light hearted, funny way. The obvious satire the film posts itself on works through great writing and great direction. Jason Reitman (Juno) hit all the right marks, but then also had a great cast to back up his already dexterous dialogue and storytelling.
Nick Naylor (Aaron Eckhart) is the Vice-President of the Academy of Tobacco Studies, which makes him a spokesperson and lobbyist for his employers. His most engaging quality is the ability to spin a topic of any kind into his favor. Being a lobbyist for cigarette companies he is an ill regarded and incredibly disliked man. Yet his ability to make a cancer patient look like the bad guys is his gift. Being one of the most hated men in America, Nick takes solace in a weekly dinner with his co-conspirators, Polly Bailey (Maria Bello), who represents Alcohol companies, and Bobby Jay Bliss (David Koechner) who leads his own advisory group for guns called: Safety. The trio is referred to as the MOD Squad. Merchants of Death. They all share a hatred from society and find comfort in sharing their daily stories. In the meantime Nick is battling a Vermont Senator named Ortolan Finistirre (William H. Macy), who is lobbying for a bill to be passed for the image of a skull and crossbones, the poison sign, to be put on all packets of cigarettes. It’s Nick’s job to stop this from happening. While Nick seems to have the world in his hands, he attempts to teach his son Joey (Cameron Bright) about his job, and takes him on his adventure through Hollywood and back again. Meanwhile, the lovely reporter Heather Holloway (Katie Holmes) takes advantage of Nick’s loose tongue during a short affair they had and prints confidential information sending Nick into a spiral of shock that renders even him speechless.
This film is ambitious in it’s goals. It makes it’s point of Nick’s strong and overwhelming personality to actually make you get on the side of the tobacco company and root for them, simply because Nick’s wording was persuasive enough, even though you know the tobacco company is evil. Knowing full well you are only cheering for the bad guy because the good says to smartly enough is the films point in the first place. This movies point is people will buy anything if you sell it properly. A certain amount of spin can change any ones mind.
This was one of the best roles for Aaron Eckhart in many years. He absolutely shined in this film, interpreting this manipulative character as a real man, who happened to be a genius of his art. Joey Naylor, his son was also a bright light in the film and I see big things for this kid. Cameron Bright has a magic that I haven’t seen since Elijah Wood was an up and coming child actor. I think we’ll be seeing some big stuff from this kid in the future. There were also some big cameo’s by Rob Lowe, Maria Bello, Joan Lunden, William H. Macy, Robert Duvall, Katie Holmes, and David Koechner that added a lot of spice to an already engaging film.
Thank You For Smoking is a clever movie that makes it’s point by mocking the hypocrisy of Hollywood and Politics and the truth through the brilliant acting of Aaron Eckhart. This movie has a very relevant message that’s told in a way that is so entertaining one hardly feels like they are being educated, which is the mastery of spin. Everyone should give this movie a rent. Three Out Of Four stars.