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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
15
Cast
Aaron Eckhart
Cameron Bright
Maria Bello
Katie Holmes
David Koechner
Rob Lowe
J K Simmons
William H Macy.
Directors
Jason Reitman.
Screenwriters
Jason Reitman.
Running Time
92 minutes

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Thank You For Smoking
Aaron Eckhart is the ultimate spindoctor...


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Plot
Nick Naylor (Eckhart) is the chief spokesman for cigarette-industry giant Big Tobacco. He’s a fast-talking king of spin who can twist even the most unsympathetic audience around his finger. But can he deal with a crusading senator’s (Macy) campaign to have every fag packet labelled ‘poison’, while also doing right by his own impressionable son (Bright)?


Review
Thank You For Smoking

Don’t pay too much heed to the plot synopsis above — Thank You For Smoking isn’t quite that easy to encapsulate. Which is not entirely to its benefit. Jason ‘Son Of Ivan’ Reitman’s feature debut is, like the novel on which it’s based, a scattershot satire that’s a bit too scattershot for its own good. You’re never entirely sure what journey Reitman – via “yuppie ephistopheles” Nick Naylor – is taking us on here. We have Naylor versus William H. Macy’s frustrated senator; Naylor tasked with getting cancer-sticks back in Hollywood movies (resulting in a hilarious semi-cameo by Rob Lowe as an agent “who just loves… Asian shit”); Naylor sent to deal with a suit-threatening, Big C-stricken ex-Marlboro Man (Sam Elliott); Naylor’s ill-advised relationship with a vampish journo (an embarrassingly miscast Katie Holmes); the death-threats he receives from an extreme anti-smoking group; the challenge of him having to suddenly give up nicotine… And so on.

The problem’s not so much with the movie’s aim, as with
the number of targets it’s aiming at.
Still, if you just treat it as a dark, political-comedy sketch show, you’ll for the most part be choking with laughter. A sideways glance at Washington’s more dubious lobby-groups, its wryest scenes are those in which Nick meets up with his counterparts for the alcohol (Maria Bello) and firearms (David Koechner) industries — a trio who refer to themselves as the “MOD squad”, MOD standing for “Merchants Of Death”.

Meanwhile, Reitman ensures that  the script zings with great lines. “You know the guy who can pick up any girl?” asks Naylor during his introductory voiceover. “I’m him on crack.”
Given his seemingly reprehensible nature, it would have been a tough job for any actor to make Naylor even halfway sympathetic. But Aaron Eckhart, all firm handshakes and shit-eating grins, pulls it off. On the one hand we can laugh in disbelief as he points out to a child that his mommy, who told him smoking is bad for him, “is hardly a credible expert”.

On the other, we can believe in him as a caring father himself, who genuinely wants the best for his own son. Sure, it comes close to veering into schmaltz when dealing with Naylor
Jr., but it’s at least a useful device to make clear that what we have here isn’t so much a pro-tobacco movie using irony as a weak disguise, as a humorous — albeit flawed — investigation into where the boundaries of personal choice should be set.


Verdict
Structural scrappiness aside, it remains a laudably amoral and superbly caustic comedy for those who like their satire strong and unfiltered.


Reviewed by Dan Jolin

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Thank You For Smoking
Empire Star Rating

Too Weak For A Satire

A biting satire based around nicotine companies and cigarette manufacturers, Thank You For Smoking does a neat job of keeping things intriguing, and always clever in a slightly underhand way. However, the film as a whole feels rather dull, and it never fully feels like the filmmakers grasped the scale of the issue they were tackling. Playing close to the line is one thing, but dancing so far inside it you're on the other side of the pitch.... in a satire? Quite ridiculous. Aaron Eckhart does an ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by blaud at 22:59, 06 April 2011 | Report This Post


Very entertaining, but slightly lacking focus. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by dahughesy at 22:57, 24 January 2011 | Report This Post


Aaron Eckhart's is a convincing and authentic performance and Reitman's script is pure genius. One of my favourite films of the decade ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by lona_no_friends at 23:30, 08 January 2010 | Report This Post


Awesome!

I can't see this being anything other than four stars. The film isn't scattershot, because Aaron Eckhart is such a magnetic and charismatic lead. He ties the film together and all the plot strands are about his personal journey and all feed into him. I didn't just sympathise with Nick Naylor, I fucking loved him. He was an absolute joy to watch. Oh, and how was Katie Holmes miscast? I thought she was perfect - she was innocent and sweet, but it was still credible when she tore him down. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Tyler_Durden at 02:29, 26 November 2008 | Report This Post


SO HILARIOUS. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by nc_jj at 20:33, 21 March 2008 | Report This Post


Thank YOU For Smoking.

Great Movie. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by nc_jj at 20:32, 21 March 2008 | Report This Post


Surprisingly good!

Extrememly underrated, Empire should have given it at least 4 stars. With solid performance from everyone involved, and in the end a great satire. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by will91 at 00:22, 08 March 2008 | Report This Post


Hmm. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by wooz at 00:10, 16 January 2008 | Report This Post


Thank You For Smoking

Nice idea with strong characterisations but fails to reach its potential. The possibility for more humour and more satire is there but by trying to do too much it ends up doing too little. Average. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by qualidad at 13:57, 09 July 2007 | Report This Post


Review 7

I thought this film was well acted, very funny dark humour and edited wonderfully... Really was a treat to see a film that didnt that the runtime of 3 days, like most of Hollywoods big films this summer. Eckhart was amazing in the film and you can see the subtle similarities of this character and how Harvey Dent may be played. An excellent film with a good message. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by simontchilds07 at 10:12, 30 May 2007 | Report This Post


Dark satire at its best

For once, I don't really agree with a lot of the empire reviewers comments. I didn't think Katie Holmes seemed mis-cast. I didn't think the film at any way bordered on 'schmaltz' toward the child - in fact, quite the opposite. Any film in which the main character is so morally ambiguous, yet by the end your rooting for him, can only be a fantastically made and well acted film. Jason Reitman shows great promise. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by discodave101 at 08:05, 27 April 2007 | Report This Post


Reitman's breathless debut remains funny, frantic and sharp throughout. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by moviemaniac2 at 18:19, 05 March 2007 | Report This Post


Thank You For Smoking

Not quite as biting and witty as maybe it thinks it is, and I think Reitman had possibly been watching too many David Fincher films before you got round to editing it, it was still good fun, Eckhart was great, its about time he was given a decent leading role in a film. Great supporting roles from David Koechner and William Macy too, my main quibble is the whole sub-plot about the son was a little bit over-played and saccharine. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Indio at 22:04, 11 October 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Thank You For Smoking

Although I can’t stomach cigarettes myself, I’m with Bill Hicks when it comes to the attitude towards the humble cancer stick and those who chew on her: “Non-smokers… I’d probably quit if I didn’t think I’d become one of you.” It’s an ongoing battle between the two warring factions; the non-smokers arguing with the moral high ground and allusions of health and safety on their side, while the smokers simply shrug, claim personal choice and take another lengthy draw. Thankfully, one man who fully... More

Posted by Ali Baba at 01:21, 20 July 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Thank You For Smoking

I thought it was hilarious and I also think Holmes was great. Unfortunately, she's been tarred by the fact she's clearly a bit mental. I thought she was good in Batman Begins, too. ... More

Posted by jimminycrickets at 20:49, 11 July 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Thank You For Smoking

I strongly reccommend this film for any one who is seeking for a refreshing change from the dull summer blockbusters or if you are disgusted by the rescent assualt of poor comedys like the benchwarmers..... This film manages to be hilarious, with dark witty humour, even when tackling such serious subjects as cancer and death. I have one piece of advice though if you are considering seeing it- try bend your brain around whether he is for or against smoking, that subject is irrelevant to the char... More

Posted by sheepinator88 at 20:18, 11 July 2006 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

s film same day as Dready (probably same cinema...Rochester?) and loved it, thought it was funny, JK Simmons is so underrated.t=arial] read some people smugly observing that no-one actually smokes in the film, I don't think the film is meant to be 'pro-smoking' at all, I think it's more 'anti-nanny state'. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by pettsy at 19:43, 06 July 2006 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

I thought this film was HILARIOUS. The constant switching between loathing and sympathising with Eckharts character, his de-humanizing of the health officials displaying their contradictions was a new and healthy outlook to finally see. Satirical and ironic enough so it doesn't sound too preachy. Rob Lowe's short but sweet performance was incredibly funny, as well as the MOD meetings and I thought Katie Holmes was great too! I think people have been particularly harsh on her supposed "mis-casti... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Monkey Wrench at 19:04, 04 July 2006 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

I saw this today as my local Cineworld must be sharing the reels with other places. I loved it, what a great film. There was a couple of cheesy moments but generally it had a great script, great actors and was amusing throughout. I imagined this would be good after positive reviews but I didnt imagine quite ] good! Definately recommended. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Dready at 17:22, 04 July 2006 | Report This Post


RE:

i saw this film last night as the closing film for the 53rd Sydney Film festival, and i loved it.   Its cleverly done to at times make you feel sorry for the smoking corperations yet hate them at the same time. I loved the irony that through out the entire film not one person was seen smoking ... More

Posted by Jeffy at 05:21, 25 June 2006 | Report This Post


Caustically witty and irreverant, Reitman's sharp politically charged comedy hits the spot. Terrifically acted, the cast revels in the sharp dialogue, and Eckhart is fantastic as the thoroughly disreputable but infinitely charming lead. The film feels succinct and to the point, its short running time serving it well. Entertaining and wry stuff. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Grandma Death at 23:25, 22 June 2006 | Report This Post


thank you for smoking sticks a cheerful two fingers up to political correctness from its first scene as aron eckharts character goes into the bear cage of a daytime chat show to defend smoking. he is a lobbyist a spin doctor an amoral son of a bitch and he loves it!. there is a great scene where he goes into a classroom and a child says mummy told her smoking was bad for you and he says is your mum a medical expert to ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by quizkid at 16:00, 22 June 2006 | Report This Post


Funny and entertaining, if not exactly revolutionary

One would be forgiven for thinking Thank You... is a Syriana-like tract, using a gifted ensemble to highlight a particular menace – in this case the prevalence of “Big Tobacco” and their vice-like grip on popular culture – when in fact nothing could be farther from the truth. Thank You... may be somewhat controversial, and yeah, I guess it's political, too, but it doesn't wear its heart on its sleeve like other “issue” films do. It's not afraid to revel in its... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by britesparc at 22:47, 21 June 2006 | Report This Post


Thank you for Smoking

One of the most entertaining and funny films I have seen this year with a sharp script and good performance from the lead man, Aaron Eckhart. I never even noticed that nobody smoked once during the film but love the irony about it looking back. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by clysley at 17:23, 17 June 2006 | Report This Post


Thank you for Smoking

One of the most entertaining and funny films I have seen this year with a sharp script and good performance from the lead man, Aaron Eckhart. I never even noticed that nobody smoked once during the film but love the irony about it looking back. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by clysley at 17:23, 17 June 2006 | Report This Post


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