Thank You for Smoking – The endless business of money and lies

by fabioemme
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Thank You for Smoking 2005 movie

You can talk about our society even through black comedies, like this excellent 2005 movie, Thank You for Smoking, which tries to explain how badly and how massive corporations profit from our addictions.

Nick Naylor, a charismatic and unstoppable spokesman for Big Tobacco, a giant in the cigarette industry, is at the center of this ironic maelstrom of power, money, and misinformation.

Proficient in the art of rhetoric and deception, Naylor defends the company against public attacks and legislative maneuvering that could reduce circulation or marketing of the product, despite being well aware of smoking’s dangers.

He has a son, Joey, for whom he strives to be a role model, although his mother does not appreciate at all the life lessons he seeks to provide.

Indeed, this is hardly the time for Naylor to lower his weapons and have a conscience breakdown, since his most challenging opponent is Senator Ortolan Finistirre, who would like to put a lethal death notice on every cigarette pack.

Thus, he goes about his day-to-day life, dividing his time between television broadcasts, public debates, and the smoke-filled rooms of Washington, besides meeting regularly with his longtime cronies Polly Bailey and Bobby Jay Bliss, respectively lobbyists for alcohol and firearms.

As if his schedule were not sufficiently busier, Naylor also finds time for a passionate affair with young idealist Heather Holloway, a journalist seeking fame and success.

However, despite his remarkable intelligence, finally, all of this irrepressible lobbyist’s swaggering arrogance comes at a price, even though he may emerge from his personal tragedy as someone paradoxically even more famous and influential.

A light comedy about a heavy subject

Thank You for Smoking is a must-see movie from 2005 and one of the gems in the stock footage of Jason Reitman, the son of Ivan Reitman. Yes, the very man behind Ghostbusters and Twins, both movies that have become true comedy classics.

Jason has the makings of his father, adapting a Christopher Buckley novel into a wry and engaging script. He talks about smoking, sure, but he does it so brilliantly, telling us about how tobacco biggies cash in and the health implications.

The most striking aspect is that (at times) you almost end up siding with the so-called “bad guys,” those who blatantly lie to you to sell their product. And it’s not even because of them, you know? You get on their side if arguments sound logical, even if they are entirely wrong.

Still, in the end, the film leaves you with a fundamental message: Think for yourself, my friend, because choosing independently is the essence of freedom, and the film itself, with its arrogance and sharp dialogue, is a prime example of that.

It is not all linear; the main story splits into several subplots and secondary characters with beautiful caricatures of the lobbying and political universe.

Although the topic of smoking is heavy, the film manages to treat it with a biting lightness without ever becoming pedantic.

In conclusion, although it may seem that it does not delve too deeply into the issue, the film is blunt enough to make you think. It opens your eyes to the rhetoric we too often take at face value because it is packaged with pretty words and a lot of money. So, at least for an hour and a half, you realize it is always better to take a step back and think for yourself.

New and old stars together on screen

Among the many actors and actresses in the excellent cast, the most striking ones are the trio of death by lobbyist friends, who not surprisingly call themselves The MOD Squad, where MOD stands for Merchants of Death.

Every morning, they meet and fight with each other to determine which of the industries they promote kill the most people, headed, of course, by the superb protagonist Aaron Eckhart.

This little group of characters would be enough to make a movie in itself, where along with Eckhart is the beautiful and ruthless Maria Bello and the disgusting and ignorant (but equally hilarious) figure played by David Koechner.

Of course, you know the leading man from his excellent performance in The Dark Knight, where he was the complicated good guy/bad guy Harvey Dent/Two Face. Still, in this case, the actor is on another acting planet, holding the story almost entirely on his shoulders.

He is the villain we love to hate. This smiling bastard lies as naturally as he breathes, ridiculing the imbecile senator who is played by another fantastic actor, William H. Macy, perhaps, in this case, a bit underrated and who would have deserved more space and lines.

Simply fantastic, on the other hand, is Robert Duvall, also with little screen time but who, with his talent, memorably sculpts the excellent character of the Captain; initially the founder of the institute for which Eckhart works, but now remorseful because he too is stricken with one of those smoking-related diseases he has always denied.

Finally, we have the graceful Katie Holmes coming out of her “good girl” shell (although she was bad enough in her role in The Gift) to become one of the many manipulative bitches who aspire to journalism, more to be famous than to really inform the public.

Thank You for Smoking 2005 movie
Amazon Prime Video




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