Thank You For Smoking
is a surprisingly good film. But then, even the title is designed to upset expectations. No matter who you are, or how much you hate the smell of a freshly lit Marlboro, you are most likely tired of the condescending anti-smoking message that you are barraged with on a daily basis. Thank You For Smoking
is the antidote for that message, a gleeful little piece of nihilism from first time director Jason Reitman and one of the smartest, liveliest comedies to come along in a while.
The film follows the wheeling and dealing of the wonderfully named Nick Naylor, the mouth-piece for fictional corporation National Tobacco, a man who shills poison for a living and is damn good at it. The question on which the film rests is, Could the best salesman in the world sell ice to Eskimos if the Eskimos know the ice was poisonous? The answer, apparently, is yes. At one point in the film Nick brags to his friends that he is so good at selling his product that it kills the equivalent of two jumbo jetliners full of people every day.
You're probably wondering how a movie with such a massive prick at its center could be funny. Well, the film does a very smart thing in casting Aaron Eckhart as the massive prick in question. In his hands, Naylor' lively intelligence and indomitable spirit don't come off cynical as much as all-American.