Thank You for Smoking (2005)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Satire  |   Release Date - Mar 17, 2006 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 91 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Perry Seibert

Jason Reitman's adaptation of Thank You for Smoking aims its satirical slings at something much bigger than the smoking lobby. Aaron Eckhart's Nick Naylor gleefully manipulates everyone and everything in his path. While the film gets huge laughs from the audacious (though not quite totally unbelievable) sentiments Naylor expresses on behalf of the tobacco industry, it also gives this media Machiavelli a heart simply by showing that his ability to shape an argument isn't something he has to work on or think about -- it comes to him naturally. Some might think he is soulless, but it would be more accurate to say that spinning is his soul. The film would work if it settled for just mocking big business, but it actually analyzes how someone who instinctually spins the truth can still live an honorable life. Even more refreshing is that Naylor never really once questions what he does. He certainly goes through a rough patch of self-pity, but never once does he regret what he does or consider how what he is doing affects others. He is a man naturally suited to having this job in this day and age. A lazy actor would have simply amped up the smarm factor playing Naylor, but Eckhart plays the character with pride. That pride makes him engaging and even somewhat sympathetic. With one strong, unique lead character, Reitman is able to serve up big laughs while commenting on the nature of public discourse in the age of media saturation.