Thank You For Smoking. (2005)
Directed by Jason Reitman.
Starring Aaron Eckhart, J.K. Simmons, Adam Brody, Katie Holmes, David Koechner, Maria Bello, William H. Macy and Robert Duvall.
Nick Naylor: “Michael Jordan plays ball. Charles Manson kills people. I talk. Everyone has a talent.”
Usually most films with an all star cast is already spelling, “horrible.”
But Jason Reitman is notorious for making huge A-listers work together and actually make the film work. Not the actors being the film. The fact that he sent every actor a personal letter saying why they would be perfect for the part suggested to them just shows how determined he is to making a successful black comedy. Not a comedy due to crappy acting, huge payoffs, and a sex scene or two.
Thank You For Smoking is incredibly infamous for its title alone. But also equally famous for its screenplay. From the “Career Day at School” scene, where Nick Naylor (Aaron Eckhart) technically tells kids to try smoking, to the “If they’re wrong, I’m right” speech, it shows how well the film carries the audience from beginning to end. Also, the facts about smoking (which Nick constantly objects to saying they aren‘t scientifically proven) make the viewer get more and more attentive to the film. But the film isn’t about smoking. (Directly, of course.) In fact, not a single person was shown smoking, or even holding a cigarette in the entire film. Yet, when you surround yourself around something controversial, there will always be murmurs. But just because there’s smoke, doesn’t mean there’s always fire.
The film will make you laugh. And you’ll enjoy it. And you’ll quote it. And you’ll probably even say smoking isn’t that bad. That’s exactly why this film works as a black comedy. It’s suppose to make you laugh or in some ways agree with something you usually wouldn’t. Not to say the film is evil, in a sense. But Reitman takes the awkward and turns it into golden comedy. He’s also directed both 2007’s surprise hit, Juno and 2010’s surprise hit, Up in the Air. Films about teen pregnancy and making a career out of firing people from their jobs. Yet, both films are amazingly well-written. Well acted. Well done. As is Thank You For Smoking. This is Reitman’s talent. As Naylor’s is talking.