Thank You For Smoking Filters Morals within Politics

John Reitman’s first feature film, “Thank You for Smoking” based on the 1994 novel by Christopher Buckley could have could have benefited from a few pointers by his father, director/producer Ivan Reitman, the man who brought us “Ghostbusters” and “Meatballs”. More often than not, the film is a humorous satire of America’s growing corporate culture and could have potentially revived the dying genre of the dark comedy. It is predictable in its execution, seeming to not have taken certain risks. Despite being a film rich with sarcastic content, the writing seemed to have walked on eggshells, careful of not wanting to offend or bite off the corporate hand that fed it. However, a major factor of the film’s appeal is due to the carefully constructed antihero, whose charm and wit makes a character you love to hate, but ultimately end up loving. The “Colonel Sanders of Nicotine,” Nick Thayler (Aaron Eckhart) is so likable as the chief lobbyist and spokesman for Big Tobacco that it is easy to forget that he is in a position of such scum. We are brought along on his escapades in defending tobacco, along with his twelve year old son, waiting for the moment when his moral integrity will break free from the deceptive industry. Recalling the days of Humphrey Bogart, Thayler sparks a product placement campaign to make cigarettes sexy again, by having Hollywood stars smoke in their films. Thayler travels to Los Angeles to conduct business with an over-the-top mega agent (Rob Lowe) in which a ludicrous deal is negotiated, placing cigarettes in the mouths of Brad Pitt and Catherine Zeta- Jones after a lustful affair in outer space. The poking fun of the stereotypical lavish Hollywood lifestyle in such an absurd representation (along with the OC’s Adam Brody as Lowe’s professional kiss ass) makes for one of the most amusing scenes in “Thank you.” While Thayler is hard at work defending tobacco against a proposal initiating for a skull and crossbones to be placed on every pack of cigarettes sold in the United States, he is sleeping with the local (not to mention seductive and deceitful) news reporter Heather Holloway, played by Katie Holmes. Some of the best scenes are of Thayler dining with his good pals, the M.O.D (Merchants of Death) Squad, an alcohol lobbyist and a gun rights lobbyist. Political satire is at its best as the gun rights lobbyist chows down on apple pie topped with a slice of American cheese, all while arguing which one of their respective careers is responsible for killing the most Americans each year. Reitman’s “Thank You for Smoking” is perhaps one of the most intelligent films of the year, but that does not exactly say a whole lot of the times. Considering Hollywood is so desperate for a decent screenplay they allowed “Snakes on a Planes” to make its way to theaters and Stephen Spielberg will have his own reality show as of next year in search for a film to produce, is all quite indicative of a culture lacking in innovative filmmaking. “Thank You for Smoking” is filled with memorable quotes and witty dialogue. You will be entertained, but just don’t expect it to live up to the hype that has been buzzing around it.