I rented this one last night using my Videoself membership - that's turning out to be the best $20 I ever spent (well, next to that "massage" in Thailand...but that's another story).
Let me say this loud and proud: Thank You For Smoking is one of, if not the best film of 2006.
Every once in a while, a film comes along that I really - really - enjoy. It's smart, witty, funny, well written, relevant, features fine performances and interesting themes, and I don't find myself saying afterwards: "yeah, it was good, but it could have been better".
Nope. This movie is a home run.
I'd heard it was good from lots of different folks, but I didn't see it in the theatres because, well, I had had the opportunity to see a preview for free and thought I'd feel pretty stupid spending $12 to catch it now that the reviews were in. In my defense, I knew nothing about it at the time. I certainly didn't know it had a fantastic cast featuring the likes of Maria Bello (hot) and Sam Elliott (cool).
Hell, even Katie Holmes was tolerable!
Surely such a great film deserves recognition from the Academy, right? Of course not. Despite the fact that Thank You For Smoking is nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay at next weekend's Writer's Guild of America awards (and you think they'd know), it does not appear on the Oscar shortlist (Borat, Children of Men, The Departed, Little Children and Notes On A Scandal are the nominees there - Thank You For Smoking and The Devil Wears Prada replace Little Children and Notes On A Scandal on the WGA list).
Look, this movie made me want to read the book - and I don't read! From what I understand, this movie took over a decade to get made into a film, partially because the book was so hard to adapt into a screenplay. Rookie director/writer Jason Reitman (yes, son of Ivan) deserves mucho credit for his work. This is a great script (Babel got nominated for Best Original Screenplay - and that script is shite!). The dialogue is smart and goes well beyond the surface.
This movie should be required viewing in today's day and age of spin doctors, political correctness and George motherf***ing Bush (check out the bonus features for a great skewering of politicians - including the aforementioned Prince Of Darkness). It doesn't pick sides - it just encourages you to think about the messages we are spoon fed every day.
In many ways, this script reminded me of Fight Club (one of my all time favs) meets Jerry Maguire - told from Bob Sugar's perspective.
Two massive thumbs up.
(Do yourself a favour, though - it helps to see this movie with some notion of "Big Tobacco". So go out and rent Michael Mann's fantastic The Insider starring Al Pacino and an unsexy Russell Crowe before running back to the store to rent Thank You For Smoking.)
"You know the guy who can pick up any girl? I'm him. On crack."
- Aaron Eckhart as Nick Naylor