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Thank You for Smoking

A movie directed by Jason Reitman

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Made me laugh and made me think. This satire is a riot!

  • Apr 28, 2006
  • by
Pros: Fast paced, very balanced satire. So funny. Thought provoking, but not condescending.

Cons: Great messages here, but the kids won't be seeing this one.

The Bottom Line: This film will work your cerebral cortex and your funny bone at the same time. Fantastic.

I just got back from seeing “Thank you for Smoking”, the story of a smooth-talking lobbyist for the tobacco industry. This fast-paced movie is “seriously” funny! I was laughing out loud many, many times. I caught my husband smiling many times too (he’s not as much of a laugh-out-loud type as I am). There are many take-home messages here, and much food for thought. However, the film pokes fun at all sides equally, so it does not come across as preachy or pushy in the slightest. Just as in Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show”, we laugh at everyone equally. We laugh at the conservatives, the liberals, and everybody in between.

A very brief synopsis:
Nick Naylor (played by Aaron Eckhart) works for the “Academy of Tobacco Studies”, as a lobbyist. Handsome, articulate and charismatic, he successfully battles anti-smoking groups, politicians, scientists and health crusaders. He deals with his ex-wife and tough reporters. He’s good at his job, and his job pays the bills. However, he is also very smart and a loving father who does not want his son to be ashamed of what his father does for a living. That’s all I’m going to tell you. To find out more, go see this movie!

Here’s what I liked about this movie:
1. By use of funny, over-the-top parody, this film examines all the arguments surrounding cigarette smoking. While the film does not condone smoking, the protagonist argues convincingly that adults have a right to make their own decisions, including making risky and unhealthy choices. If cigarettes are going to carry health warnings, perhaps cholesterol-packed cheddar cheese should carry warnings too. If we wish to avoid all risks, we should give up driving cars too, right? The protagonist makes all these types of arguments in such a charismatic, compelling way that he almost convinces us that he is right. Our protagonist is a master talker, an expert manipulator of spin. He’s fascinating to watch. Will he convince you?

2. The acting is uniformly excellent. Aaron Eckhart as our main character and William H. Macy as the anti-smoking Senator Finistirre from Vermont are particularly noteworthy. Some of the actors are shallow caricatures (the sexy newspaper reporter, Nick’s lobbyist friends, the Hollywood product- placement agent), but this suits the movie’s zany humor perfectly.

3. The fast pace. This movie has energy and just zips along. At times I was at the edge of the seat. At the theater at which I saw this film, the majority of the audience stayed until the last of the credits were rolled out; I think that like me, people were just too blown away to even stand up!

4. Brilliant humor. Who would have guessed that a movie about a tobacco lobbyist could be so funny! Some of the jokes were obvious. The young son is mortified as his father comes to his classroom to tell his classmates about being a cigarette lobbyist. The son’s facial expressions and body language are priceless. However, some of the humor was done in a low-key way that requires the audience to notice subtleties. For example, there is a scene in the office of the senator from Vermont. The senator’s desktop is covered with his enormous collection of bottles of maple syrup. That’s really very funny, but was done in such a low-key way that I am certain many in the audience did not even notice. Or perhaps only those who have been tourists in Vermont would even understand the maple syrup joke.

Here’s what I didn’t like: you’d better leave the kids at home
Probably the only negative I can think of is that I would not feel comfortable taking my sons, ages 14 and 11, to see this film. It’s too bad, because there would be so many avenues for great discussions with them. Was the tobacco lobbyist a “bad guy”? Was the anti-smoking senator a “good guy”? Is it ok to work for a tobacco company? Is cheddar cheese just as poisonous as cigarettes? However, there was too much sex and sexual talk (although no actual nudity) for me to be comfortable taking them to this R-rated movie. We also had the full spectrum of profanity. My husband is a high school social studies teacher, and he regrets that he cannot show this film to his students, for the same reasons.

Bottom line:
I was impressed that this movie could deliver its messages in such a balanced and incredibly funny manner. I recommend it highly.

Update: Just to clarify, the film is pure outrageous sarcasm. I do not believe that this film truly promotes cigarette smoking at all.


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November 04, 2010
Loved this movie- the wit and I liked how it poked fun at all sides! @Lopez15 had an interesting take on the movie, you should read his review when you get a second!
November 04, 2010
Thanks for the comment. I took a look at that review; thanks for pointing it out. Diana
November 04, 2010
Anytime ;p
More Thank You for Smoking reviews
review by . September 08, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
4 stars: To smoke or not to smoke that is the question?
From 1575 to the present, there have always been those who have opposed the use of tobacco from Mexico to the Ottoman Empire to Bavaria, Kursachsen, and certain parts of Austria in the late 1600s. Some form of Government in some part of the world has always tried to ban or outlaw the use of tobacco. In the 1500s the Catholic Pope Urban VII in particular threatened to excommunicate anyone who "took tobacco in the porchway of or inside a church, whether it be by chewing it, smoking it with a …
Quick Tip by . February 08, 2011
Slick talking tobacco lobbyist teaches his son the fine art of spinning topics and faces continuous hate from the public. Smart funny and even a little manipulative at times.
Quick Tip by . September 04, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
   A smooth, charming, and outrageously funny look into the lives of the big companies that supply America with some its deadliest products and the people who try to oppose Director/ writer  Jason Reitman(Son of director Ivan Reitman) paints a cynical, searing and intelligent portage of   the world of big business, politics  bans and  most of all, smoking. "Thank you for Smoking" is one of the best films of the last decade and one of the best political&nb …
Quick Tip by . September 13, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
i really enjoyed Nick Nailer and Rob Lowe's character (cant remember his name). every time i think about him in the kimono it makes me laugh and i wonder what time it is in Tokyo. highly recommend this one.
Quick Tip by . September 12, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
An excellent movie that is a refreshing change that shows a representative of the tobacco industry in a sympathetic light. This movie does not take sides and focuses on the characters. Eckhart gives a great performance as a tobacco industry spokesman who is torn between what his job requires him to do, what society wants out of his industry, and being a role model for his son. He is a perfect fit for the dark humor used throughout this film.
review by . April 27, 2009
Nick Naylor (Aaron Eckhart) is a lobbyist for the tobacco industry; he's very good at spinning facts and convincing people that smoking is their American right. His young son isn't so sure about the ethics of Dad's job, however.     This is a very funny, sarcastic movie. I've seen Eckhart before but was never impressed, until now. He is perfect as the fast-talking lobbyist with his dazzling smile and charismatic charm. The cast is full of good actors in small but witty roles: …
review by . October 29, 2008
Thank You For Smoking
'Thank You For Smoking' is a satire/comedy of the industry of Big Tobacco. Nick Naylor (Aaron Eckhart) is the Vice President of the Academy of Tobacco Studies, and calls himself the Colonel Sanders of Nicotine. He's divorced, but stays very involved in Joey's (his twelve year old son) life. Joey (Cameron Bright - Running Scared, The Butterfly Effect) looks up to his father, often seeing him in a Godlike way.     Nick belongs to what they call the MOD Squad (Merchants Of Death). …
review by . February 17, 2007
Once in a while a movie comes along that totally tears apart the society that spawned it thru the use of wit, irony, sarcasm and pointed remarks. This comedy is one of these movies. The movie revolves around the life and career of Nick Naylor, PR person for Big Tobacco, and begins with him taking on and taking out his political opponents live on a national talk show. We then come to see him comment and explain his work to his son, his son's classmates, his counterparts in the alcohol and firearms …
review by . October 05, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
The fact that everyone (well, almost) will do anything for money - the mortgage must be paid - is only one of the subversive elements placed on the table of this bitingly satirical film. Based on the very edgy novel by Christopher Buckley, director Jason Reitman has adapted the story for the screen, populated his diatribe with a fine cast of actors, and directs the whole concept with deft precision. While many not familiar with the book's bite will be put off by the title, rest assured that no one …
review by . December 12, 2006
"Thank You for Smoking" was an entertaining movie. I enjoyed the portrayal of corporate shenanigans and its satire of Hollywood types. The acting was good and all players did their jobs well but I was a bit put off by the smirking 'we're so smart and hip attitude' of the movie. A bit of humbleness is appealing you know. Some say the subject matter in this film i.e. to smoke or not to smoke is equally weighed. I personally didn't feel that way at all. I felt the overall tone for the movie was geared …
About the reviewer
Diana ()
Ranked #733
Just your basic mother, wife, doctor, email addict. Oh, and I have a bunch of hobbies and enjoy trying new things and meeting new people.
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