Corkscrew Reviews Thank You for Smoking

Cork Screw Reviews – the reviews you never asked for about movies you’ve long forgot. Reviews that may or may not contain spoilers (spoiler alert: they will) but let’s face it, you should’ve watched these by now, anyway.

Patrick, Cathy and I are back to give our take on another film! Today we’re reviewing Thank You For Smoking and, let me say in advance, you’re welcome.

TYFS

Patrick –

Thank You for Smoking is a satirical take on corporate lobbyists and their role in society / government and an our personal lives. It is as relevant today as it was in 2005, whether it be big pharma, tobacco, arms dealing, genetically modified food, agriculture, anywhere the desire to control populations exists, the list goes on. The issue with this film is it made me hate myself for liking the main character so much.

A scalding shower with pot scrubber might help you feel a bit better yourself after watching this movie.

The main character Nick Naylor is an attractive smooth talking charmer. The guy guys wanted to be in high school. He claims quite appropriately “I get paid to talk. I don’t have an MD or law degree. I have a bachelor’s in kicking ass and taking names. You know that guy who can pick up any girl? I’m him, on crack.”

The cringe-worthy parenting advice is the darkest part of this film and the part where we see him wrestle with his humanity and Nick quick frankly fails miserably in the conventional sense. The mother making the right decisions and attempting to protect her son, guide him, yet make sure he still has a healthy relationship with his father is seemingly real and disturbing, her scenes are the sobriety checks throughout the film.

Nick’s ability to skate his way through any issue is fun to watch, and the anticipation that is built each time he encounters an obstacle or a seemingly insurmountable objection creates a suspense throughout the film, well how is Nick going to get himself out of this one…

The cast over all was perfect, William H. Macy was perfect in his role and the cameos throughout were a treat, Rob Lowe, Robert Duvall, J.K. Simons, Sam Elliot and some other great character actors gave the film a feeling of quality and quirkiness that I appreciated. Some of the scenes were in the flavour of Wes Anderson films with text super’s freeze frames and contrived set design intended to tell a quick visual story in seconds.

I really enjoyed this film, it is a great commentary on critical thinking and it lingered with me for days after.

I highly recommend it!

TYFSicecream

Cathy –

What would you do to pay the mortgage? Jason Reitman’s “Thank You for Smoking” explores this question of morality through several characters in this film. As soon as the Cancer Kid shows up on the Joan London Show panel, you know you’re going to have to check your high horse at the door, because this film is pure satire.

Would you defend “Big Tobacco” and smokers’ rights to make a living? The lead character, Nick Naylor (Aaron Eckhart), takes pride and pleasure in spinning all the horrible data we’ve come to know about cigarettes.

Heather Holloway (Katie Holmes) makes her money by using our Spin Doctor, Nick, for information through sex, and then publishes all his dirty secrets in her newspaper column.

Nick’s only friends, the MOD Squad (aka Merchants Of Death Squad) are lobbyists for the NRA and Alcohol. Each time they meet, they try to out-do each other in an on-going rivalry for the top killer of more people: cigarettes, alcohol or guns.

You’ll root for the bad guys, and good guys become bad in this tongue-in-cheek film. But how perfectly cast is Sam Elliott as the once-glorious Marlborough Man, now dying of cancer? Try as he might to disparage the good name of Big Tobacco, it turns out that even HE can be bought with a suitcase full of money.

What would I do to pay the mortgage? Smoke, smoke, smoke that cigarette, my friends!

Marlborough Man

Darcia –

“You know that guy in high school who can pick up any girl? I’m him on crack.”

Was this line in the original novel? Had no one involved in the making of this ever done hard drugs? Generally speaking, crackheads are notoriously bad at doing anything other than smoking crack. They don’t have the wherewithal to pick up any woman. I am completely befuddled as to how this line slipped through an otherwise brilliantly written story.

And it is brilliantly written.

The wit is quick, razor sharp,and consistent throughout, with gems such as, “I’m his dad. You’re just a guy fucking his mom,” and “The great state of Wisconsin will not apologise for its cheese!”

My favourite scene is the lunch gathering with the MOD (Merchants of Death) Squad – consisting of lobbyist Polly Baily, spokespeople representing Alcohol (Maria Bello), Bobby J  for firearms (David Koechner) and our anti-hero Nick Naylor repping Tobacco (Aaron Ekhart), competing over who is the most hated among the public. The argument ends with Nick Naylor shaming Polly and Bobby J, because cigarettes kill significantly more people than alcohol and guns.

Anyway, what do I love most about this movie? It almost perfectly exemplifies how fucked up people are. I’m not talking about the obvious fuckedup-ness of human nature that’s exposed in the film: Nick convincing a talk-show audience that it’s in the best interests of anti-smoking organizations to have young people die from cigarette smoke, rapid-fire “philosophical lessons” between Nick and his son (I wish I could’ve been Joey Naylor for just one weekend a month and every other holiday leading up to my Logic & Critical thinking in class in university), the original Marlborough Man (Sam Elliott) accepting a bribe, and Sen. Ortolan Finistirre (William H Macy) reacting to the fact that Nick Naylor didn’t die as a result of his kidnapping, for example.

No, I’m talking about the fucked up human nature of movie goers. If you give us an overall despicable character and inject a little vulnerability into them, while at the same time taking an overall decent character with a helping of pompousness, you will root for the despicable character EVERY TIME. We don’t even care that he won his dignity back by slut-shaming a reporter. That bitch deserved it for using him through lots of sex that he thoroughly enjoyed and then writing a 100% accurate article about the day-to-day activities and accomplishments of poor Nick Naylor.

Does this happen in real life? Nope, not really. If you work with a guy who clips his toenails in his cubicle, leaves dirty dishes in the staff kitchen, and never makes a new pot of coffee after finishing the last cup, you don’t suddenly like him because you find out that he’s a good dad. Nope, you still hate his fucking guts. But play the whole thing out on screen and suddenly you’re hoping that the poor, misunderstood guy gets to keep his job so he can continue paying for his kid’s violin lessons.

Anyhoo, I may or may not have strayed off topic. But whatever. If you want a succinct review, go read Ebert’s take on it.

 

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