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Thank You for Smoking pleases viewers with its very welcome satire

“I don’t have an M.D. or a law degree. I have a bachelor’s in kicking ass and taking names.”

Meet Nick Naylor, a smooth, sweet talking tobacco lobbyist who speaks on behalf of the Academy of Tobacco Studies and is the star of Thank You For Smoking.

Naylor has perfected the art of arguing, making it a science. Everyone knows that cigarettes are bad for you, but Naylor’s quick wit can make a box of Marlboro Lights look enticing.

The role is brilliantly played by Aaron Eckhart who may have finally broken out as a Hollywood star. After subpar bouts in the likes of Paycheck and The Core, it is refreshing to see him tackle this satire.

This film grabs you right from the start and keeps your attention all the way through. The opening credits is hilarious as cast and crew names is superimposed into retro cartons of various tobacco products. Along with the song, “Smoke, Smoke, Smoke That Cigarette!” by Tex Williams, these credits set the stage for a good laugh.

We come upon Naylor, an obvious public enemy, at the taping of a daytime television talk show. Put up against a Health Advocate and “Cancer Boy,” he finds himself in an obvious trap. However, Naylor refuses to succumb to their ploys and ends up looking like a champion.

The dialogue alone makes this film. The script is full of great one liners.

Smoking also features an incredible supporting cast comprised of William H. Macy, Rob Lowe, Katie Holmes and Robert Duvall. All of them work well within the screen time given to them.

The film also features A History of Violence‘s Maria Bello and Anchorman‘s David Koechner in minor roles. These two join Naylor in creating an underground dinner group affectionately called “The M.O.D. Squad.” This group, “the Merchants of Death,” includes Koechner as a trigger happy gun spokesperson and Bello speaking on behalf of alcohol.

These private meetings are some of the most enjoyable scenes of the movie. The three members are quite informed of the harm brought on by their backers but almost revel in the amount of damage that is done.

Another key plot line follows Naylor and Joey, his young son. Keenly interested in his father’s occupation, Joey accompanies him on one of his business trips. With an inside look at his father’s slick profession, Joey learns the tools of how to argue correctly.

“If you learn to argue correctly, you are never wrong,” are some great words of wisdom from Nick Naylor to his son.

The movie takes an interesting twist after this suave sweet-talker accidentally leaks information about his life to a beautiful reporter (Holmes) from The Washington Probe.

Interestingly, not a single cigarette is smoked on-screen, subtly reinforcing the film’s anti-smoking theme.

I strongly recommend this movie for someone who is looking for a good laugh and is in the mood for a clever caricature of an industry responsible for thousands of deaths per year.

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