Thank you for Smoking

This movie is an absolutely rare, astute and witty comedy that will make you laugh and think real hard.  It is directed by Jason Reitman based on the novel of the same name by Christopher Buckley. Its a wise, sly, smart cruel yet funny take on spinning of truth and absolute perfection in PR which is the current trend in society. Apart from all this, what I loved about this movie is its style. Its like none other.

Plot : “Nick Naylor(Aaron Eckhart-my favorite but generally underrated actor) is the chief spokesman for Big Tobacco, who makes his living defending the rights of smokers and cigarette makers in today’s neo-puritanical culture. Confronted by health zealots out to ban tobacco and an opportunistic senator (William H. Macy) who wants to put poison labels on cigarette packs, Nick goes on a PR offensive, spinning away the dangers of cigarettes on TV talk shows and enlisting a Hollywood super-agent (Rob Lowe) to promote smoking in movies. Nick’s newfound notoriety attracts the attention of both Tobacco’s head honcho (Robert Duvall) and an investigative reporter(Katie Holmes).  for an influential Washington daily.Nick says he is just doing what it takes to pay the mortgage. Along the way, he brings his own son and attempts to teach him the ways of a lobbyist, but even more importantly, the ways of a human being living in the Unites States of America. But he begins to think about how his work makes him look in the eyes of his young son Joey (Cameron Bright).”

Nick Naylor is not egotistical or conceited but merely an objective observer of his own excellence. It is the purpose of the movie to humble him, but he never grovels, and even in a particularly nasty situation is still depending on his ability to spin anything to his advantage.

“Thank You for Smoking” targets the pro-smoking lobby with a dark appreciation of human nature. One of my favorite scenes in the movie is the first one where Nick Naylor(Eckhart), a spokesman for the Academy of Tobacco Studies is on “The Joan Lunden Show”(a mock talk show) , sitting next to bald-headed little Robin, a 15-year-old boy who is dying of cancer, “but has stopped smoking.” Nick rises smoothly to the challenge: “It’s in our best interests to keep Robin alive and smoking,” he explains. “The anti-smoking people want Robin to die.” Totally makes sense doesn’t it? He says “what do we the tobacco company gain out of this boy dying? It only means that much less sales for us. If he were alive he would be smoking more. The anti-smoking people on the other hand want this boy dead to prove their point”.  There are a million more such dialogs in this movie that’s the pinnacle of this movie’s excellence.

I love this kind of movie! It’s a breeze to watch, it’s packed with all kinds of fantastic witty, exciting and smart dialogue. It features a ton of engaging actors playing entertaining characters. It’s talking about something that isn’t commonplace in movies nowadays. Its one of those very few movies where once you’re hooked, it keeps you on there throughout and keeps adding more wit and excitement. Eckhart’s speech to the young kids in school is priceless.  Another of my favorite scenes.

Aaron Eckhart is just something else! He always was one of favorites and he never disappoints. This movie is a classic example. Phenomenal is the word to describe him. Somehow he makes his lead character, an anti-hero  – the man hired to convince everyone that smoking cigarettes is “all good” , finaly sympathetic, likeable and goddamn charming! 

Everyone knows cigarettes can kill you, but they remain on sale and raise billions of dollars in taxes. The target of the movie is not much about tobacco but more about lobbying in general. Which along with advertising and spin-control makes many evils palatable to the people. How can you tell when something is not good for you? For ANY product, great efforts( and millions of $$) are invested to convince you it is harmless or beneficial as much they lobby that its harmful. Consider the ” incredible egg” or the “Drink responsibly.” Prescription drug prices being doubled “to fund research for better health.

Irony?  Yup, that’s world today. Life of Ironies.

This movie gets a 9.5 out of 10


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