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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Thank You For Smoking (2005)


Is smoking good for you? Go ahead and give it a taste yourself!

Nick Naylor (Aaron Eckhart) is the guy that most people consider the second-coming of Satan or a murderous flea-bag, among many other negative personifications. “Why”, may you ask? Well, he’s a lobbyist who speaks for world-wide smoking companies as they constantly get heckled by anti-cancer foundations, protesters, and above all, Senators trying to remove cigarette-usage from movie, television, books and all sorts of other media-outlets. Also, they’re trying add a warning-label on each and every pack as a way to scare every cigarette-purchaser that they will in fact die if they continue to buy and smoke tobacco. But Nick Naylor doesn’t let any of this get to him, because not only is he good at his job, but he’s one slick mofo when it comes to getting what it is that he wants, in the smoothest way possible. The only problem is that he’s finding it hard set a good and responsible for his son Joey (Cameron Bright), whom he rarely sees as is, but wants to show the bright, as well as the dark sides of corporate-America.

If any of you out there think that my opening-line was in anyway serious, then don’t be worried about my I.Q. level, because I was joking. I know; you know; parents know; dogs know; cats know; hell, practically all of us know that smoking is bad for you. If it’s not doing any damage to you now, give it 20 years or so, then you’ll start to feel the ramifications tobacco-usage. That’s not me being preachy, or even trying to sound like a dick, I’m just being honest and painfully clear. Because, let’s face it, everybody knows that cigarettes are not good for you, but does that matter? Hell no! But the that doesn’t stop half of the Earth’s population from going down to the local mini-mart and ordering a pack of Marlboro Reds, now does it?

Hell no!

It's a reunion of Harvey Dent and Rachel Dawes. Well, sort of.

It’s the reunion of Harvey Dent and Rachel Dawes finally together at last! Well, sort of.

But that’s the genius of this movie; it dives into the age-old statement that “smoking is not good for you”, and still finds a way to inject a whole bunch of humor and satire about how people can be easily conned into thinking one thing, that in ways, sometimes goes against the common-norm. Writer/director Jason Reitman gives us all of the mean, dirty, despicable and money-grubbing a-holes that we’d never want to meet in real life, but somehow, he makes them all interesting, fun-to-watch and downright believable. You could definitely see these types of people in the corporate-world; laundering money, making some dirty deals on the side, trying to spin whatever story they possibly can into a positive light and, through it all, doing everything to make a quick and easy buck. It’s America baby, and nobody plays clean when money’s involved.

What really pushes this movie over-the-edge and makes it more of an important life-lesson, than just a whole satire on the corporate-world we live in, is that it actually discusses a common-truth that all humans should hold near and dear to themselves. That common-truth being to stand-up for one’s view-point, and not always give into what everybody else is saying. Basically stick up for yourself and don’t just go along with the crowd.

Like for instance, this movie isn’t about whether or not smoking cigarettes is in fact “good” for you or not, nor is it trying to get you to consider if you should go out, buy a pack and start lighting away until the cows come home. Nope, it’s more about how people should be able to make decisions, solely based on what they want to do and whether or not they think it’s right to do. Sure, smoking isn’t good for you and you definitely shouldn’t start developing that as a habit if you know what’s best for you, but don’t be such a sheep and follow the herd. Get out there, do what you think is right for you, as well as others around, but don’t just follow the current. Go at your own flow, man.

Though “blaming the million-dollar corporations for our poor decisions” has been a societal-standard since the beginning of the first Mickey D’s, the movie tackles it head-on and gives us a wonderful protagonist, or antagonist (depending on which way you look at it), in the form of Nick Naylor as the type of guy that speaks for those who always seem to get a bad name. Do some of these big, money-grubbing corporations deserve all of the name-calling and slander in the press? Sure they do, but Nick Naylor is here to show us why we all make decisions in our lives, regardless of if we’re thinking right away. Some of the points that Naylor does make are valid (the whole “ice cream” bit will forever be a favorite of mine), and for anybody who sees him as “the villain”, is sadly mistaken. He’s the guy who knows the truth and skewers it in any way he possibly can without getting caught-up and looking like a dumb-ass. But he’s just so cool and charming, you don’t even care if he’s trying to get these smoking-companies more cash-flow, you just hope that he’s nice to those around him that matter most.

Somebody's in need of a sarsaparilla.

Looks like somebody’s in desperate need of a sarsaparilla.

Kind of strange actually, but Eckhart makes him this way, showing us that he’s not only still capable of being a bon-a-fide dick like we’re so used to seeing him be, but also able to spin it around in a way and see that he can be a nice guy, when the opportunity arises and calls on him to be so. He doesn’t always say or do the right things that may be for the betterment of everyone around him, but he does get caught in some sticky situations where he has to think what’s more important to maintain: His humanity, or his bank-account? More often than not, the latter is what he ends up falling back on the most, but when he does show sides of being a genuinely graceful dude, it goes a long way. Shame that Aaron Eckhart has really been blowing chunks at the screen as of late, but here’s to hoping that he may come back to doing commendable pieces of work for the big screen.

However though, I guess in the case of Aaron Eckhart: There’s nothing like “too many” paying gigs.

Then of course though, Eckhart isn’t the only one of this cast that shines – he just so happens to shine the most. Cameron Bright is the core of what gives this movie its “human-element”, and to watch as he and Naylor talk, get to know one another better and eventually build a bond over time, makes this more than just a “satire”; it’s actually something rather sweet and heartfelt. But still with a bunch of corporate-satire and smoking.

He’s the one who gets the most to work with though, as each and every one of these recognizable faces that show up here all do great jobs, no matter how meager or important their roles may in fact be. David Koechner and Maria Bello get some of the bigger-laughs as the two other, public spokespersons that Naylor frequently goes to dinner with; Robert Duvall constantly chews on his honking, wide-ass cigar as if it was a candy-cane and is absolutely loving every second of it; William H. Macy is playing the main State Senator who is speaking out the most against Naylor and the tobacco-companies he so proudly stands by and can’t help but be likable, underneath all of the contradictions he holds; and Sam Elliott, given what he has to do as a former spokesman for one of these tobacco-companies, injects a lot of heart, humor and surprising sadness into a story that desperately needed some to get to the heart of what this story means in the long run, and why people should at least try and stay away from cigarettes. At least try, that’s all we ask of you as a human-being.

Consensus: Thank You For Smoking is a movie in which most viewers will most likely be divided on, based solely on their political-standings are, but they can all at least come together on the fact that it’s a funny, smart, sly and sometimes heartfelt satire that takes a look at a bunch of people we don’t want to like or see in a humane-way, but actually do, in surprising ways.

8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!

If weed every becomes legal, you know this idea will be popping up everywhere.

If weed becomes legal everywhere in the world, you know this we’l be jammed down our throats.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBComingSoon.net

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39 responses to “Thank You For Smoking (2005)

  1. sidekickreviews January 28, 2014 at 6:06 am

    Fantastic review, I really like your breakdown on the Nick character. The humour, satire and the ending, if I remember it correctly, is really good.

  2. Tom January 28, 2014 at 6:46 am

    Great review Dan, I’ll second Sidekick’s comment too, I like your analysis of Naylon here. I can’t believe I haven’t seen this film yet. *LIghts a cigarette.* But I really need to change that. :D

  3. Joseph@thecinemamonster January 28, 2014 at 6:51 am

    I’m a big Reitman fan and I’ve yet to see this. Funny enough, I was just thinking about checking it out. Happy to hear it’ll be worth the watch. Great stuff, Dan!

  4. thycriticman January 28, 2014 at 7:12 am

    Nicely written! I actually remember watching this, but I was quite young at the time. And I was highly against smoking, and do not recall liking it too much. Despite not being a smoker, I would likely have a more useful opinion if I re-watched this in my current, more matured age!

    • CMrok93 January 29, 2014 at 4:57 pm

      It’s less about smoking and more about the ideas of what people put behind that act, as well as the rest of the world and its way of thinking. What I am trying to say is, give it watch. You’ll be surprised and happy.

  5. thomasjford January 28, 2014 at 9:02 am

    I haven’t seen this in years but it is a really funny film dripping with satire. I didn’t realise it was a Reitman number actually, even more reason to revisit it in my book!

  6. stephen1001 January 28, 2014 at 11:23 am

    Great film & role for Eckhart – as a movie fan, how do you like William H. Macy’s character “improving history” by replacing cigarettes in old films with candycanes?!

  7. Whit's Movie Reviews January 28, 2014 at 12:39 pm

    I’ve wanted to see this for a while because it seemed interesting and I like William H. Macy. Now I totally have to see it. Thanks for the info Dan! Great review!

  8. keith7198 January 28, 2014 at 12:57 pm

    Good review and a good film. Reitman is really a talent. He’s the only reason I’m optimistic about Labor Day.

  9. jjames36 January 28, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    Good review. I remember this being quite good, too.

  10. Wendell January 28, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    Excellent review. I really enjoyed this movie. Like you said, it’s dripping with satire and manages to have a heart, too. In my opinion, this is the best Eckhart’s ever been.

  11. johnlink00 January 28, 2014 at 3:42 pm

    Really like your take on this. I need to see it again. I remember being impressed but don’t remember which side of the hero/villain line I came down on with Naylor.

  12. alexraphael January 28, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    Great movie, great write up. Such swagger.

  13. ethomson92 January 28, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    I saw this movie when I was like 15 or 16 (5 or 6 years ago). It’s definitely time for me to see it again

  14. table9mutant January 28, 2014 at 7:24 pm

    Thank you for… Reminding me that I fell asleep 20 minutes into this one night & really need to go back to it. Lol. Nice review. : )

  15. chris2508 January 28, 2014 at 9:31 pm

    Good review Dan. Loved you batman joke.

  16. Three Rows Back January 28, 2014 at 10:27 pm

    Nicely done Dan. Eckhart is great in this, but not as good as he is in In The Company of Men.

  17. literaryvittles January 28, 2014 at 11:37 pm

    probably one of my all-time favorite films! Great review, and glad to see you featuring it on your blog!

  18. Monkeyboy January 29, 2014 at 11:08 pm

    I’d heard of this, but never really got round to watching it. Great review, which has me curious to give it a watch. I’d probably find it interesting being an ex-smoker (although I’m not one of those people who, after quitting, hates people who still smoke, I find that kind of thing pointless).

  19. Jim Turnbull January 30, 2014 at 12:00 am

    ‘The great state of Vermont will not apologise for its cheese’ is one of the greatest lines of dialogue ever written haha. Great review – one of my favourite comedies. Definitely agree that Eckhart needs to get his act together though!

  20. Chip Lary January 30, 2014 at 8:42 pm

    I HATE smoking. It’s a massive turnoff for me when I see an actress lighting up in a movie (i.e. Jennifer Lawrence in American Hustle). And you know what? I love this movie. This is by far the best role Eckhart has had and he carries the entire movie on his back. Had his character not worked, the film wouldn’t have worked.

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