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Movie Review: Thank You For Smoking

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Considering the easy targets chosen here — “Big Tobacco,” lobbyists, politicians, and the media — Thank You For Smoking is a rather mild and good-natured satire that rarely approaches scathing social criticism. It’s certainly softer around the edges than Farenheit 9/11 and even This Is Spinal Tap, but while the movie could have been more biting and thought-provoking, it manages to get its point across (I think?) while being breezily entertaining at the same time.

I thought the humor was clever, but not laugh-out-loud funny (although plenty of others in the theater seemed to disagree.) Aaron Eckhart chews up the screen as Nick Naylor, a spokesman for the absurd Institute of Tobacco Studies, and he becomes the movie’s surprisingly sympathetic anti-hero. But other than David Koechner, who plays an amiable gun lobbyist, the rest of the characters are rather two-dimensional, undeveloped caricatures – which, for a satire, is not necessarily a problem. William H. Macy, though, is a bit too easy to hate as the Vermont senator on an anti-smoking crusade. And Rob Lowe – man, he’s looking kind of scary these days…

Amazingly, nobody actually lights up and smokes a cigarette on screen during this entire movie. And while it attempts to skewer everyone involved, in the end you will find yourself routing for the Merchants of Death and their quasi-libertarian stance extolling “freedom of choice” over government regulation; when some of the audience clapped at the end of the movie, I assume that’s what they were applauding.

So hopefully, in addition to being an enjoyable farce, Thank You For Smoking might make people think twice the next time politicians start talking about protecting “the children” from cigarettes, fast food, video games, and… um… Hollywood movies.

Grade: B-

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  • Jesse

    “And Rob Lowe — man, he’s looking kind of scary these days…”

    I’m intrigued ~~ what kind of scary is Rob Lowe looking? Good scary? Bad scary? Hot scary?

    Would love an answer from the author. Thanks!

  • bad scary… complexion-wise… malnourished or something… you really need to see it for yourself…

  • Jesse

    Thanks for responding, Stephen. I know Rob is lean, but malnourished? Seriously? And a bad complexion? I find that hard to believe (not that I’m doubting you).

    Have you ever seen him in person? May he just looked this way on film.

  • Pam

    I have seen Rob for myself, a number of times and he looked pretty good to me. A lot thinner than he usually is but he’s been losing weight since Lyon’s Den. His complexion looked good and this was pre show make-up. I thought you meant ‘scary’ because he doesn’t seem to be aging. Lots of people have seen TYFS and they have reported Rob is looking as good as ever…as good as he did in his twenties…now that’s scary!

  • Diane

    Goodness, I am very surprised by the idea of Rob looking scary. I met him many times while he was in the UK (and this was after TYFS was filmed) and he looked terrific. His skin is flawless.

    I tend to agree with other comments above that the only scary aspect is how he manages to look so amazing still at age 42!

  • Karen

    The only reason Rob looks scary is that he doesn’t really age. I stood next to him a few months ago, well after TYFS was filmed, and he looked as gorgeous as ever, lean but muscular from running every day, his skin nearly flawless…we should all look so good at 42. TYFS was filmed with that weird filter that made everything an odd shade of nicotine-stained-yellow/brown, which caused the stills from the movie to make Rob’s makeup look odd, but it’s not Rob that looks bad, by any means.

  • Yeah it probably had a lot to do with the lighting…

    meanwhile, what did everyone think of the movie?

  • Jesse

    I haven’t seen TYFS yet, Stephen, because it hasn’t come to my city, however I plan to go as soon as it does. I’ve heard mixed reviews and am anxious to see it and judge for myself. I’ll report back here as soon as I do.

    Also, after reading the above comments, I’m especially interested in seeing Rob Lowe. I’ve seen the trailers and stills from the movie, and he looked terrific in those.

    I’m sure you know he’s returning to “The West Wing” in a few weeks to reprise his role as Sam Seaborn. I’ll have a chance then to check out his “scariness” factor.

    Looks aside, even in the negative reviews of TYFS, Rob’s performance still shone through as the one to watch.

  • Mod Squad

    Hi there. As you know, Blogs are an important tool on the internet. Get your opinion out there and make it heard. Enter the THANK YOU FOR SMOKING Blog Contest.




    Everyone is talking (and blogging) about Thank You For Smoking, but if a post falls in the blogosphere and nobody is there to read it – does it make sound? It will if you win and we post your blog HERE!

    If you think you can spin (or have spun) the best blog post on the subject, enter it here for all to see and rate. A winner will be picked from the Top 10 Rated Posts on 5/1/06. The winning post will be featured here on this site AND the blogger will interview Blogger/Writer/Director, Jason Reitman.

  • tracie lewellen

    I really did not understand the movie,and have to write a 6 page summary on ‘How the movie is a parody of lobbyists in the U.S.. Can any one help me?