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With: Aaron Eckhart, Maria Bello, Cameron Bright, Adam Brody, Sam Elliott, Katie Holmes, David Koechner, William H. Macy, J.K. Simmons, Robert Duvall, Kim Dickens, Rob Lowe, Todd Louiso, Dennis Miller, Joan Lunden
Written by: Jason Reitman, based on the novel by Christopher Buckley
Directed by: Jason Reitman
MPAA Rating: R for language and some sexual content
Running Time: 92
Date: 09/09/2005

Thank You for Smoking (2006)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Puff Guys

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Buy Thank You for Smoking on DVD

Most social/political satires forget to balance character with plot, or worse, the thin jokes collapse under the pressure of an easy, likeable third-act conclusion. But the new Thank You for Smoking deftly avoids all these pitfalls, checking in as a well-rounded and hilariously direct satire. After a series of short films, writer/director Jason Reitman -- son of Ivan (Ghostbusters) Reitman -- makes his big screen debut with this story of a tobacco lobbyist, Nick Naylor (Aaron Eckhart). Whip-smart and cavalier, Nick enjoys his luxurious lifestyle, even if he doesn't believe the B.S. he's slinging. In one of the movie's high points, he keeps a standing dinner date with a gun lobbyist (David Koechner) and an alcohol lobbyist (Maria Bello) so that they can complain about their unique jobs. Adapting Christopher Buckley's novel, Reitman effortlessly weaves together many potentially clumsy storylines: Nick tries to bond with his son (Cameron Bright), the product of a broken marriage; Nick has an affair with a sexy reporter (Katie Holmes); Nick meets with a Hollywood producer (Rob Lowe) to cook up a new "image" for cigarettes; Nick meets with a cancer-ridden advertising cowboy (Sam Elliott); Nick battles a Vermont senator (William H. Macy) over warning labels. Great character actors keep turning up in each of these threads, and they dissipate into the material rather than protruding from it. Most of all, Thank You for Smoking doesn't wear its message on its sleeve and doesn't particularly care if anyone gets the point. It just wants to be good and funny.

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