Thank You for Smoking (2005)

General, Reckons

Wonderful satire that pokes fun at the tobacco (and to a much lesser extent alcohol & firearm) spin industry.

The movie follows Nick Naylor (Aaron Eckhart), a charming spin man at the top of his game, as he goes about his business selling uncertainty, doubt, and cigarettes.  We first meet him on a day-time talk show where he quickly befriends the radiation-therapy-embaldened ‘cancer kid’ and then proceeds to make the anti-smoking folks on tage look like, well, less charming and clever than him.

We meet his family (ex-wife and a son who travels around with him for much of the movie) and his very few friends – a tight-knit little group of spin-men from various industries that refers to itself as the M.O.D. squad (Merchants Of Death) who argue about who has the highest body count (Nick wins with tobacco, the others are from alcohol and firearms so don’t really come close), and so forth.  And of course we meet his colleages in big tobacco, and his opponents – primarily in the form of Vermont Senator Ortolan Finistirre (William H. Macy).

The cast is all pretty much bang on the money with a lot of fine performances, though Naylor’s son Joey was played a little woodenly by popular kid actor Cameron Bright (who I remember as a kid off Stargate SG-1 and you probably remember as Leech from X-men 3, or even as Six from Ultraviolet if you like to watch really bad movies), we’ve all come to expect it to sound like kid actors are reading their lines to a greater or lesser degree, I blame the parents.

Anyway, he’s an unarguably cute kid, so forgive the dialogue if it sounds like he’s… reading… to… the camera.

Let’s pluck a few characters from the archetype grab-bag, shall we?

There’s the cancer-afflicted former Marlborough Man with a rifle Lorne Lutch (Sam Elliot), or Heather Holloway the Washington reporter who doesn’t mind a bit of fucking if it’ll get her the story (Katie Holmes, very carefully, and entirely covered up – she may as well be wearing a hijab for Jupiter’s sake.  Curse you Tom Cruise!), Jeff Megall the kimono clad Hollywood talent agent extraordinaire who only sleeps one day a week (Rob Lowe), or J. Jonah Jameson – oops, I mean BR, Naylor’s boss at the American Tobacco Academy.

All great.

I strongly urge you to check this movie out, but there’ll be no rush on this one as it’s certainly heading for a wider theatrical release – whether that means a limited run in normal theatres, or just at Rialto, it’s definitely worth checking out.

(The civic still friggin’ sucks.  Why oh why did they buy those AWFUL seats?!  They sucked when they were new, and now just a few years later they suck even more.)