Release Date: March 17th, 2006 by Fox Searchlight Pictures. The Cast: Aaron Eckhart, Maria Bello, Cameron Bright, Adam Brody, Sam Elliot, Katie Holmes, David Koechner, William H. Macy, J.K. Simmons, Robert Duvall, Kim Dickens, Rob Lowe, Todd Louiso, Dennis Miller.
Directed by Jason Reitman.
BASIC PREMISE: Nick Naylor (Eckhart), a spokesman for Big Tobacco, lobbies for cigarettes while an anti-tobacco senator (Macy) from Vermont challenges his arguments.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: This biting comic satire never ceases to entertain from its first frame to its last. It’s often difficult for films with an ensemble cast such as this to work on any level. Fortunately, Thank You For Smoking lets every actor shine, whether in a big or a small role. Aaron Eckhart, undeniably, has a lot of fun with his role as Nick Naylor. Nick comes across as arrogant, charismatic and often funny—unlike the uptight Vermont senator played to perfection by William H. Macy. Much of the off-beat humor comes from the smart script which often makes you feel like you’re watching Election , but without the absurdity of The Royal Tenenbaums. Writer/director Jason Reitman doesn’t forget to include some serious dramatic conflicts such as one between Nick and the senator publicly as they public humiliate one another back and forth like children. Also, Nick brings his son (Bright) along with him to work at one point, during which he has a new mission: to be set a good example for his son. Katie Holmes, Robert Duvall, and Rob Lowe briefly show up, but their roles are all memorable and important—particularly Rob Lowe as a studio executive. Don’t any nudity in a very short sex scene with Holmes and Eckhart. The third act loses slightly loses much of the comic energy and momentum when the film tries to get more serious, but Aaron Eckhart’s winning, convincing performance keeps you thoroughly engaged.
SPIRITUAL VALUE: It’s very interesting how Thank You For Smoking doesn’t paint Nick Naylor as necessarily evil or even corrupt—he’s just doing his job and, for that matter, doing it very well. Spinsters such as Nick are essentially liars who represent corporate greed without caring much about public health. Eventually, Nick’s conscience as a father and as a human being takes over him. The scenes when he interacts with his inquisitive son are quite moving and ultimately give the Thank You For Smoking--and Nick—a big heart.
INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: None.
NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 0
IN A NUTSHELL: A biting comic satire! Fresh, funny and very smart!
RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (1st Run)
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