Spoilers might take up vaping instead.
Confession time. I started Slightly Odd just to review this film in particular. Ok, it’s not completely true but this was the first movie that came to mind. As was the case of Other People’s Money (1991), this movie puts the person who should be the antagonist as the protagonist of the film. In this case, it’s not cold hard truth but rather spin that wins the day. The movie is a satire-parody of lobbyism and the way that getting the wrong facts keeps you in business. It’s not moral, it’s not right but it can be really funny to watch.
Thank You For Smoking (2005) was written and directed by Jason Reitman and based on the novel of the same name by Christopher Buckley. It stars Aaron Eckhart as Nick Naylor, chief spokesman for the tobacco industry. This film also features JK Simmons as Nick’s boss, BR; William H. Macy as Senator of Vermont, Ortolan Finisterre who plays Big Tobacco’s most fervent adversary. The film is a comedy-satire about spinning the truth, and there’s no one better than Nick to defend tobacco, specially in his role as vicepresident of the Academy of Tobacco Studies.
He’s a lobbyist, plain and simple. However, his talent to derail a debate and keep people away from the truth is what makes the movie interesting. He’s basically a scoundrel, and as much as one hopes he gets what he’s coming to him, movie scoundrels are audience favorites. Also along for the ride are the MOD, the merchants of death, with Polly Bailey (Maria Bello) for alcohol and Bobby Jay Bliss (David Koechner) for guns. Nick’s more redeeming feature is his dynamic with his son Joey (Cameron Bright).
The dialogs are the best part of the film, but of course a close second is the casting. In one of the most memorable parts of the movie, the Captain (Robert Duvall) who is the biggest backer of Big Tobacco, sends Nick to try to bribe Lorne Lutch aka The Marlboro Man (Sam Elliott, who else). The one possible casting choice is Katie Holmes as reporter Heather Holloway. It’s not that she does a bad job, it’s just that the female reporter that sleeps with the man she’s interviewing for a story is a worn-out and overused cliche that does no justice to female reporters.
Nick himself seems to have the world in his hands. Using everything in his power, including the participation of Hollywood (don’t miss Rob Lowe as a big studio player) he’s making sure people keep smoking. He’ll have to run into crazy environmentalists, a revealing exposé and the U.S. Senate to keep doing what he does. In his mind, it’s all for the mortgage – but what he really cares about is his son. The plot is not airtight from all angles, but it’s full of engaging personalities with loose morals.
Highly recommended with minor reservations. This is one of those movies that I still love revisiting once in a while. Eckhart does a great job playing fast-talking Naylor and he’s even a believable father. The subject is one of those that is completely deadpan serious to tackle, which makes it easy for a comedy turn. As much as tobacco factoids, some real (yes, cigarettes kill) and some made up (The Marlboro Man was actually three different real people), permeate the film the bigger picture is the people that spin the truth into whatever suits the company they represent.
That will do for now.