Thank You for Smoking

Finally, a comedy that's funny! Thank You for Smoking, based on the novel by Christopher Buckley, is a breath of fresh air in multiplexes full of stale, unfunny comedies. It is a biting, satirical look at the tobacco industry through the eyes of the lowest of the low - the tobacco lobbyist. Nick Naylor (Aaron Eckhart, Suspect Zero, Paycheck) is handsome, smart, and a slick talker. In other words, he is a great asset to big tobacco and the bane of health advocates. There's not really an over-arching plot to Thank You for Smoking; the film is more a glimpse into the life of Naylor. Adapter/director Jason Reitman (son of some guy named Ivan Reitman) gleefully skewers anybody and everybody, showing how ridiculous the world of tobacco is.

Oddly enough, while the movie is funny and some of the jabs hit hard, it still feels as if Reitman is pulling some punches. He goes pretty far, but refrains from zeroing in on the kill. Thankfully, although he is still able to make the script work. The very beginning of the film has him on a talk show arguing that it was not in the interest of Big Tobacco to kill people. After all, if they remained alive and smoking, they could buy additional cigarettes. Later, he chastises a Senator from Vermont, saying that cholesterol (from Vermont cheese) was responsible for more deaths than tobacco. Naylor's son Joey (Cameron Bright, Ultraviolet, Birth) learns to idolize him after his father enlightens him on the power of the argument.

There is an element of ridiculousness to the entire movie. It seems crazy that Naylor would say and do such things, but at the same time, the reason that Thank You for Smoking is so funny is that many of these things are within the realm of possibility. Naylor has few scruples, and will do whatever he can to further his cause. Most people in the real world have something hard-wired into their minds to stop before they say certain things aloud. Naylor and his cohorts have no such ability. They gleefully say the most politically incorrect things in recent memory. And Eckhart is so charismatic that his performance overshadows all of his co-stars. Reitman gives the film a balanced feeling my making sure to mock all sides. Nobody escapes. And the script is intelligent enough so that the commentary has bite.

Mongoose Rates It: Pretty Good.
1 hour, 32 minutes, Rated R for language and some sexual content.

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