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Some movies come along at just the right time. V for Vendetta is a perfect commentary on the "War against Terror." And Thank You for Smoking is the perfect answer to the corruption and lobbying scandals taking place on Capitol Hill. This is the kind of intelligent, but politically incorrect film, that we need more of. Thank You for Smoking tells the story of a lobbyist (Aaron Eckhart) for the tobacco industry who, along with his colleagues from the alcohol (Maria Bello) and gun (David Koechner) lobbies, wage war against politically correct public opinion. Eckhart, who has recently divorced, takes his young son (Cameron Bright) along on his business trips so he can see what his dad does for a living. In addition to Bello, there is an all-star cast of supporting characters including, an old but tough tobacco company owner (Robert Duvall), a Hollywood agent (Rob Lowe), Eckhart's boss (J.K. Simmons), the original Marlborough Man (Sam Elliot), the Senator from Vermont (William H. Macy) and an investigative reporter (Katie Holmes).
You know you are getting old when the children of your favorite directors start directing films. Thank You for Smoking was directed and adapted for the screen by Jason Reitman. He seems to be a chip off the old block. His father Ivan, part of the Canadian Conspiracy, directed a few subversive comedies himself, Meatballs, Stripes, Ghost Busters, Kindergarten Cop and Dave. Thank You for Smoking is a comedy but it comes right at you. And Eckhart is in his element as the fast talking, fast thinking tobacco lobbyist. This is no screwball or slapstick comedy. Thank You for Smoking is the kind of comedy where everyone plays it straight. OK, William H. Macy is a bit goofy. But this film is very funny and nicely exposes the hypocrisy of picking tobacco to be the scapegoat among the many ills of our society today. The casting is really good. Thank You for Smoking is populated with a bunch recognizable faces who are among the best character actors around. And even the casting is subversive since these actors are playing satirical versions of the kind of characters they are best known for. Cameron Bright does a nice job as Eckhart's son and a budding lobbyist.
The combination of a smart script with the joie de vivre that Aaron Eckhart brings to a role like this, make Thank You for Smoking a joy to watch. Eckhart seems to love roles like this. He established himself as the gold standard for this kind of amoral character in, In the Company of Men, and Your Friends and Neighbors. Thank You for Smoking is very politically incorrect. There are no apologies and no last scene conversions. You never know what Eckhart really believes except that he believes that he can win any debate even if he is supporting an industry that, as he points out in the movie, kills so many more people than alcohol or firearms that it isn't even close. Go and see this one.