Classic Intel: Thank You For Smoking - DVD Review

'a stepping stone for Reitman, a lighter offering than either of his more recent efforts'

In a film world which is now post both Juno and Up In The Air, Thank You For Smoking seems to have enjoyed rather a renaissance recently. Director Jason Reitman's first feature, the film is a character piece following Aaron Eckhart's tobacco lobbyist, Nick Naylor, through a world that is both recognisable and intense satire.

In some regards the dichotomy between the two is where Reitman's film fails, the lightness of touch and awareness of just how far he can push any given joke that was so present in his latest two films, occasionally absent completely from this one. Take Rob Lowe's straight-faced parody of a Hollywood agent for example. There's no denying that the character is funny but he also seems to come from a different film entirely and, especially the second time we see him, the visual and more outlandish elements of the joke threaten to push the humour a step further than the audience may be willing to go.

On the other hand, Reitman handles some of the satirical elements extremely well. The meetings between Naylor and the other industry lobbyists (Maria Bello playing the alcohol industry one, David Koechner great as the guy representing the gun industry) are a highlight and completely believable as the Machiavellian representatives swap tactics on how to present their industries in a positive light. Small jokes like the poster on display behind the trio or the name of the school Naylor's son (Cameron Bright) goes to, show Reitman has a sense of detail similar to that of Edgar Wright and a sense of humour to match.

IMDb lists the run time as ninety-two minutes but the cut I watched claimed to be just eighty-eight minutes and at that length felt rushed considering the sometimes dense material that was on show. The relationship between Naylor and Heather Holloway (Katie Holmes - notice the comic book-like character names) for example doesn't feel developed enough and the conclusion rushes in to its moralising rather than allowing it room to breathe. Thank You For Smoking is an intelligent film with witty jokes and a sense of self that's rare in Hollywood comedies but it's also just a stepping stone for Reitman, a lighter offering than either of his more recent efforts.

Look further...

'Reitman's script is so sharp, so smart --satirically brilliant even -- and the way Eckhart delivers the material is priceless' - The King Bulletin, 3.5/4


  1. It's definitely a lighter film than either "Juno" or "Up in the Air," but I'd argue that in most ways that Reitman's writing is almost just as sharp as it was in "UITA." I'd also say that Eckhart is ideally cast, just as Clooney was.

    One area where the emotional difference comes into play is probably the lack of meaningful supporting characters in "Smoking." In "UITA," the journeys of Kendrick and Farmiga carry a lot of weight, but in "Smoking," there's really no one memorable other than Eckhart's character.

  2. I think occasionally the writing is indeed very smart but I didn't notice it as much as I did in UITA. I think you're right about the supporting cast but again, I think that relates to the breezy length - give any of them a bit more time and a bit more focus and I would have cared for them more.