Anthony's Film Review
Thank You For Smoking (2005)
A satire that wisely shows both sides and adds a touch of heart...
The one thing that I remember from the trailer for Thank You For Smoking was its various awards and recognitions at the Sundance Film Festival. Usually, that means there's something about the movie to appreciate. Once I knew that the film would be about a tobacco lobbyist working for the corporate tobacco giants, I understood the hype. The topic sounds like it would involve clever satire. As someone who is anti-tobacco (plus anti-alcohol and anti-drugs), I knew I had to see this one.
Aaron Eckhart plays tobacco spokesperson Nick Naylor. At the start of the film, he is a guest on Joan Junden's talk show along with a mother against tobacco, a representative of a lung association, and a teenage cancer patient. When he speaks, he does so without showing any sign of being intimidated by the public. That's the strength that makes him good at speaking and, therefore, an effective spokesperson. As he tells his 12-year-old son Joey later, one could never be wrong if one could argue correctly.
Besides Joey and Nick's ex-wife, there are other characters who are either on his side or on the other side. William H. Macy plays the Vermont senator Ortolan K. Finistirre, who proposes a skull-and-crossbones symbol for all cigarette packages. Katie Holmes is Heather Holloway, a reporter for The Washington Probe who is curious about Nick Naylor's motives. There is also Nick's boss known mainly by his initials, a former smoker, an agent in the entertainment industry, and two friends who have their own deadly thing to support: alcohol and firearms.
The plot doesn't really have a focus of one situation but rather several. Nick has an idea to boost tobacco sales by bringing it back to the movies, just like those in the first fifty years of cinema. There are also some touching scenes where Joey looks up to Nick despite what his mother has warned him. Through it all, Nick is exposed (no pun intended) to both sides of the tobacco issue. The movie, as you might have guessed, does not stay entirely in the realm of supporting tobacco. It manages to explore it all while maintaining Nick Naylor as a character who is likable enough.
This is a comedy with some good jokes and some thoughtful scenes. I like how Nick has conversations with the alcohol and firearms representatives, including a scene where they talk about their death rates. Most importantly, I like the character of Nick Naylor overall. There's nothing to dislike about him despite his job description. He is basically a guy with charisma and wit. If I were gullible enough to do anything I was told, I probably start smoking. I am not, of course, but I am happy enough to be a nonsmoker who enjoyed this rather creative story.
For more information about Thank You For Smoking, visit the Internet Movie Database.