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Jason Reitman's Thank You for Smoking (U.S. / 2005)

PostPosted: Tue Mar 28, 2006 7:07 am
by arsaib4
[Note: Thank You for Smoking was originally seen last year at the Toronto film festival, and this review was posted on 09/25/05 in the appropriate festival thread.]
*A 2006 U.S. release*

As a genuine crowd-pleaser, Thank You for Smoking doesnt let up. Its a blissful and breezy satire about the double-talk and political correctness associated with "Big Tobacco" and its companions, including the alcohol and firearm industries, among others. And while the film is neither as funny nor witty as it claims to be, it works diligently to avoid becoming clichd and sentimental, the usual traps for films like this.

Thank You for Smoking features Aaron Eckhart as Nick Naylor, a suave, unscrupulous manipulator appropriately working as a spokesman for the Academy of Tobacco Studies (funded by the tobacco giants, of course). He has his enemies, namely a senator from Vermont (William H. Macy) whos tired of his wily ways. However, Nick only gets into trouble when he inadvertently discloses some trade secrets to a journalist (Katie Holmes) willing to employ all means necessary in order to get a story.

Based on the 1994 novel by Christopher Buckley, Thank You for Smoking is the feature film debut of Jason Reitman (son of Ivan, Ghost Busters [1984], Dave [1993]). And at this point he certainly seems like a chip off the old block. Comedy is all about timing, not just from the actors, but also from the director when it comes to pacing and editing. Reitmans talents in this film are obvious in sequences involving Naylor and his counterparts, the spokespersons for alcohol and firearms (Maria Bello and David Koechner, respectively), at lunch while bantering about who has done the most damage. (The trio refer to themselves as members of a "Mod Squad," as in "Merchants of Death.") But the film also grounds itself by showcasing the relationship Naylor has with his young son (Cameron Bright, from Birth [2004]), although, thankfully, not as a catalyst for change. Eckhart, who hasnt played too many "leading-man" roles, does well here by exhibiting the same brand of cool reserve he brought to Neil Labutes In the Company of Men (1997). One perhaps wishes that the film took even more chances with the material at hand, but its hard to complain when something is this entertaining.

Grade: B

*THANK YOU FOR SMOKING had its world premiere last year in Toronto. Then the film was part of the Sundance lineup earlier this year. Fox Searchlight officially released it in the U.S. on March 17th.

Re: Jason Reitman's Thank You for Smoking (U.S. / 2005)

PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2006 1:36 pm
by wpqx
Just a few observations I feel are necessary to make. I noticed in the film that no one smokes during the entire picture, which may be a let down to some who feel with a title like that there has to be some puffing, especially when the film comments on the lack of smoking in modern Hollywood. The film was funny, only about two moments though were laugh out loud funny, but you can always get an audible chuckle out of me when you talk about shooting hippies. The film avoids numerous cliches, and I thought this would become some preachy piece of crap either about tolerance, or about Nick learning that cigarettes are bad, but thank god this isn't one of those. This film succeeds many times over from where Saved (2004) failed. That film played it far too safe, this one is willing to push things a little farther.

on a side note, I found that video directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Ferris (The Smashing Pumpkins "Tonight Tonight") are making their feature film directed debut, and Richard Linklater is making another animated film, this one based on a Philip K. Dick novel. I don't usually get excited about trailers, but these were new to me. Linklater has generally fluctuated between brilliant independent work and play it safe entertainment, so considering Bad News Bears was far from brilliant independent work, I'm excited about this new film.

Re: Jason Reitman's Thank You for Smoking (U.S. / 2005)

PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2006 1:47 pm
by arsaib4
Glad you watched it. Yeah, I was also happy to see that it didn't become preachy and/or sentimental. And it did take more chances than Saved!.

Linklater's new animated film is called A Scanner Darkly; it will play in Un Certain Regard at Cannes. His other film, Fast Food Nation, is in-competition. I also hope that they're better than Bears.

Re: Jason Reitman's Thank You for Smoking (U.S. / 2005)

PostPosted: Thu Jul 13, 2006 12:29 am
by hengcs
watched it.
liked it.
some parts were great ...

FORGIVE me (nothing personal), but like Dakota Fanning ...
I humbly think that Cameron Bright (the kid) is "over used" in Hollywood movies ...
sometimes the casting works for him (e.g., Birth),
sometimes it simply does not (e.g., Thank You For Smoking) ...

Thank You For Reading ...

Re: Jason Reitman's Thank You for Smoking (U.S. / 2005)

PostPosted: Thu Jul 13, 2006 12:33 am
by wpqx
Hollywood's casting pallete is rather small. Their overreliance on certain child actors makes for generally short careers. They have a similar over-reliance on minority actors, hence the reason Sidney Potier was the one and only black lead actor for nearly two decades.

Re: Jason Reitman's Thank You for Smoking (U.S. / 2005)

PostPosted: Thu Jul 13, 2006 3:38 am
by arsaib4
Sidney Poitier was also quite good though.

I'm also not a fan of Dakota Fanning (it may sound mean but I wanted her dead in War of the Worlds). She's certainly been over-exposed. Bright, on the other hand, has only done a few films since Birth: 4 to be exact, and I'm not sure how prominent a role he has in a couple of 'em. So, I don't think that he is being overused at this point. Maybe you just didn't like him in this film, hengcs.

Re: Jason Reitman's Thank You for Smoking (U.S. / 2005)

PostPosted: Thu Jul 13, 2006 7:56 am
by wpqx
Yes but 4 films in a year is Morgan Freemen/Jude Law type of numbers.

Re: Jason Reitman's Thank You for Smoking (U.S. / 2005)

PostPosted: Thu Jul 13, 2006 8:24 am
by hengcs
yup ... i still recall the Oscar "joke" abt Jude Law ...