Reviewed by Jason. More reviews at his site, HERE!
THANK YOU FOR SMOKING ***1/2
Sharp, quick-witted satire about a tobacco lobbyist named Nick Naylor (Aaron Eckhart), whose job is to do spin work for the tobacco industry and do his best to convince the public that smoking is a good thing. Nick is a bullshitter of the highest order, so good at his job that in the opening scene (as a guest on a talk show), he manages to convince a teenager with cancer that the tobacco industry is on his side. Like all the best satires, "Thank You For Smoking" doesn't let either side off the hook, and as someone who thoroughly disapproves of smoking but also hates the lame, fake "edginess" of those "Truth" anti-smoking PSA's, I highly appreciate that. Speaking of PSA's, if the makers of this film missed one opportunity, it was the chance to parody stupid, over-the-top PSA's (like "Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle" did so excellently).
Eckhart is nothing short of amazing in the lead role, playing the role he was born to play. Nick can be a slimeball, no doubt about it, but there's also no denying that some of his arguments have a seductive logic, and he comes across as far more honest and likeable than, for instance, the sanctimonious environmentalist Senator played by William H. Macy. The awesome cast also includes Robert Duvall, J.K Simmons, Rob Lowe, Kim Dickens, Todd Louiso, and Katie Holmes (showing the kind of verve she regularly displayed before she was abducted by Scientologists and replaced by a pod person). Best of all (besides Eckhart), are Maria Bello as an alcohol lobbyist and David Koechner as a firearms lobbyist. They are Nick's only friends, and the three of them meet weekly for lunch, calling themselves (half self-deprecatingly, half proudly) the M.O.D. (Merchants Of Death) Squad. If you ask me, they both deserve their own spin-off films.
Lots of movies get called "subversive" and many of them actually aren't. This movie gets you to really, truly like and root for a guy who says at one point that if his 12 year-old son wanted to smoke, he would buy him his first pack on his 18th birthday. Now that's subversive.