‘Thank you for Smoking’ is a 2006 satirical comedy directed by Jason Reitman and produced by David O Sachs. The movie is based on the 1994 novel of the same name by Christopher Buckley.
The movie revolves around Nick Naylor (Aaron Eckhart), the Vice President and chief spokesperson for The Academy of Tobacco Studies who is a lobby has a stated purpose is research the link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer and unsurprisingly, funded by the cigarette companies, does not find any link. The movie articulates the ‘art of spin’, which Nick uses to tackle the situations and problems he faces. Nick Naylor who is the talking head for “Big Tobacco” appears in public speaking programmes and other arrangements to support cigarettes. Nick is publicly condemned and despised. However, he manages to fulfill his duty with pride and a smile. The central theme of the movie is a bill proposed by Senator Finisterre (William H Marcy) to put skull and crossbones on all cigarette packaging and Nick’s fight against it.
The movie also shows the alliance of Nick with lobbyists of alcohol and firearms, Polly Bailey (Maria Bailey) and Bobby Jay Bliss (David Koechner). Together they meet for lunch and mutual support. Half jokingly, the trio call themselves the ‘Merchants Of Death’ (M.O.D) squad.
Nick’s career is jeopardized by Heather Holloway (Katie Holmes) a news reporter who lures out his business secrets on the pretext of being in love with Nick. Nick is thrown out of his job and faces the brunt of Senator Finisterre’s challenge. The movie proceeds and ends with Nick tackling the situations and coming out triumphantly.
More than the plot, the focus is on dialogues and situation tackling. Eckhart’s performance is a quirky and intelligent rarity eliciting wry smiles and hearty laughs. Nick Naylor, as portrayed by him is a fierce and funny dynamo, verbally skewering the do-goods of the society waiting to be raised on their moral pedestals. The plotting of characters and the actors’ performances deserve a tremendous applause.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter whether you are pro-smoking or anti-smoking. ‘Thank you For Smoking’ takes a jab at both sides with a breath of fresh air and agreement. The movie comes with an unorthodox message that is not frightened to be politically incorrect when it has to be and fails falling into schmaltzy emotional and romantic stereotypes. This razor sharp satire is a true gift of jabs. An ultimate ‘art of spin’!
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