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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Movie Review: Satire filtered in ‘Smoking’

    Aaron Eckhart, Maria Bello and David Koechner star in Thank You for Smoking. Unfortunately, this film gives the audience nothing but a bad buzz and a little bit of nausea.
    Aaron Eckhart, Maria Bello and David Koechner star in ‘Thank You for Smoking.’ Unfortunately, this film gives the audience nothing but a bad buzz and a little bit of nausea.

    With a great cast, an intriguing concept and plenty of good buzz, “”Thank You For Smoking”” was one of my most anticipated movies of the year. Unfortunately, a hit-and-miss script and a less-than-scathing attack front mean it will only top my year-end list for most disappointing.

    A satire should be biting. “”Thank You For Smoking”” gums every side of the cigarette issue but doesn’t leave a mark.

    Director Jason Reitman’s first feature follows Nick Naylor (Aaron Eckhart), the top lobbyist for Big Tobacco in Washington. The beginning of the film introduces us to his job, as he goes on talk shows and to his son’s class to spin the real “”truth”” about cigarettes.

    Naylor and his cronies’ nemesis is Sen. Finistirre (William H. Macy), who wants to put a “”poison”” warning message on all packs of cigarettes. But he hardly poses a threat, as Naylor’s main goal is to help cigarettes make a bigger splash on the silver screen. This task provides for some of the film’s funnier moments when Naylor brainstorms with super-agent Jeff Megall (Rob Lowe) about how to get cigarettes back into movies.

    There are other subplots along the way involving a young reporter (Katie Holmes) and the MOD (Merchants of Death) Squad – which features Naylor’s friends, lobbyists for alcohol and firearms.


    “”Thank You for Smoking””
    92 minutes
    Fox Searchlight Pictures

    The main event the film is leading up to, however, is Naylor’s showdown with Finistirre at a Congressional hearing about cigarettes and the “”poison”” label.

    Does the plot sound complicated? It certainly felt that way. None of the subplots are given enough screen time, so the emotional finale – with Naylor questioning his morals and his relationship with his son – seems forced.

    The audience is supposed to ignore these problems in the name of satire, but there are too many to ignore. The voice is too impartial, with Naylor and his big tobacco buddies getting just as much (or just as little) criticism as those trying to legislate against them. While this objectivism could seem noble and proves intriguing for a while, by the end you’re begging for the movie to say something.

    All the characters are too likable, the twists too unbelievable and the jokes too mediocre.

    Eckhart does a bang-up job as Naylor, and Lowe is hilarious as the Hollywood hotshot. Holmes is just plain bad (too much media exposure?), and the son (Cameron Bright) couldn’t act to save his life.

    While there are plenty of laughs in the film, most of the good ones are in the trailer.

    In fact, it was the great trailer that really ruined the movie. It got my hopes too high for not only a great satire but a great film. In the end, “”Thank You For Smoking”” is neither.

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