Thank You For Smoking

MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +4

Content: -5

Cast: Aaron Eckhart, Maria Bello, Cameron Bright, Adam Brody, Sam Elliott, Katie Holmes, David Koechner, Rob Lowe, William H. Macy, JK Simmons, Robert Duvall. Written and Directed by Jason Reitman.

FILM SYNOPSIS: Our hero is Nick Naylor (Aaron Eckhart), chief spokesman for Big Tobacco, who makes his living defending the rights of smokers and cigarette makers. 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 for an influential Washington daily (Katie Holmes). Nick says he is just doing what it takes to pay the mortgage, but he begins to think about how his work makes him look in the eyes of his young son, Joey (Cameron Bright).

PREVIEW REVIEW: I was amused when I turned on the TV just as a real-life spokesperson for the tobacco industry was defending its tactics. It was a bizarre coda to the just-seen screening of Thank You For Smoking. The gentleman in question even looked like the movie's star. There he was, earning his salary, advocating the insidious product. Admittedly, this is an enterprise that places conglomerates in a difficult position. What would the tobacco industry do if suddenly they had to shift to the manufacturing of another product? They are in much the same position as the oil companies who seem determined to suck every once of crude from the ground before making the expensive switch to alternative sources. So rather than revolutionize this field, CEOs, farmers and stockholders will stand behind, plead for, and justify the growth of a substance that kills thousands yearly.

Dr. Strangelove satirized war mongers brilliantly, as did Network concerning the media. I'd add Thank You For Smoking to this exclusive list of hysterical, yet poignant black comedies. But this is an equal opportunity offender, as it outrageously lambastes not only lobbyists, but politicians and media folk as well.

I love droll, acerbic wit that extracts its humor from the absurdity of pomposity and true-life situations. Last year's The Smartest Guys in the Room exposed pure evil robed in greed. It brilliantly exposed Enron corruption and made the public aware of the sinister practices done in order to further the esteem and riches of that companys CEOs. But that film was anything but amusing. It disturbed me for days. Thank You For Smoking, while just as revealing, lampoons its target with jest and reminds today's moviegoers that humor can come from other sources besides bodily functions.

Sadly, the script is peppered with excessive obscenity and some sexuality. For me the inclusion of these objectionables was not done with exploitive intent, but rather used to point out the shallowness of the film's characters. But be warned, in case my assessment lures you to the box office, it justly deserves its rating.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Occasional coarseness taken from references to the female form.

Obscene Language: 30, mostly the f-word; 10 minor expletives (damns and hells)

Profanity: Three misuses of Gods name.

Violence: A man is punched. Anther is kidnapped and plastered with nicotine patches, nearly killing him.

Sex: Three graphic scenes

Nudity: Two scenes, backside full nudity.

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Several sexual conversations.

Drugs: Occasional drinking and lots of smoking.

Other: None

Running Time: 96 minutes
Intended Audience: Adults

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