"Thank You for Smoking"
J.K. Simmons Comedy.
persuasive lobbyist for Big Tobacco tries to excel at his chosen
profession while simultaneously being a positive role model for
movie that I’ve seen this year. The writing and acting is
excellent. This is easily the smartest film that I’ve viewed
in 2006. And it borders on hilarious.
Nick Naylor (Eckhart)
is a lobbyist for the Academy of Tobacco Studies, an entity funded
by the Big Tobacco firms over the last 30 years to determine the
health impacts of smoking. Nick is called upon to represent Big
Tobacco at news conferences, talk shows, etc.
Nick is a quick thinker
who loves to talk. Once he starts talking, he has an excellent ability
to move through an argument with ease. His son is more like his
mother - very shy - and looks up to his father even though his father
isn’t the most popular guest speaker at his local junior high
school on "Career Day." Nick, as a spin-doctor for cigarettes,
is up against pilots and firemen.
Nick spends a lot of
time flying around, trying to combat the numerous anti-smoking groups.
He isn’t necessarily evil, nor does he have a long-term vested
interest in tobacco farming, but he does enjoy his job - talking.
He is extremely confident, describing himself by asking, "Do
you know that guy who can always pick up the girl? I’m him
- on crack."
I think that the most
entertaining aspect of the film is the weekly ‘meetings’
between Nick and his counterparts representing the alcohol and firearm
interests. The trio meets in a dark, leathery, steak and martini
bar/club to one-up each other based on how difficult the past week
has been to defend their respective industries. The actors portraying
Polly Bailey (Maria Bello) and Bobby Jay Bliss (David Koechner)
are excellent in these roles. They both give it the old college
try when it comes to defending theirs as the more despicable cause,
but the death counts from their ‘vices’ never come close
to that of the nicotine crowd.
As far as the acting
is concerned, the weakest link in this film is Katie Holmes. Considering
the remainder of the cast (Robert Duvall, Rob Lowe, Sam Elliot,
William H. Macy, etc), the filmmakers must have just run out of
The dialogue is perfect.
Expect something along the lines of a David Mamet or Neil LaBute
play, or one of the sharper West Wing episodes.
As an example, Nick’s
son needs help with a homework assignment. He asks his dad why the
American government is the greatest government. Nick quickly replies,
"Because of its endless appeals system."
The satire is extremely
effective, dispensed with a scalpel, not a sledgehammer.
It may not live too long at the box office because this type of
fare isn’t usually on the menu for most Americans. So you
might want to make the trek soon to any theatre playing this film,
or you’ll be forced to rent this from Netflix.