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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Sultan of Spin

Thank You for Smoking (2005) on IMDb

Plot Overview

George Washington portraitTobacco lobbyist Nick Taylor (Aaron Eckhart) takes his father­hood duty of educating his 12-year-old boy Joey (Cameron Bright) seriously. He drives down the George Washington Parkway with the Washington Monument on the sky­line. He arrives at St. Euthanasius [sic] School to await his turn between a fire­man and a pilot to give a presentation on his occupation (“What do you do?”). He enters Joey's class­room past an Ur-Stars and Stripes, a map of the U.S., a world map, and a picture of Mount Rushmore. God bless America.

classroom presentationHe will explain his job to the class in general, and later to Joey in particular, that promoting a dangerous product “requires a certain moral flexibility,” but most all jobs do to some extent. He makes an exception for the tobacco farmer, farmers being “fine people, salt of the Earth.” He is big on allowing people freedom of (legal) choices. At home he gives Joey suggestions on his home­work paper about, Why America's system of government is the best. That is open to a lot of speculative (“bs”) answers.

mint sprigIt's when tobacco baron the Captain (Robert Duvall) tells Nick the best way to make a mint julep—by crushing the mint leaves against the ice—that the penny drops. He learned that trick from Fidel Castro. What else did we pick up from that part of the world? Well, slaves for one thing. When the farmers in neighboring Virginia started raising labor-intensive tobacco, there weren't enough workers for hire, so they exploited a readily available source of conscripted labor from the Caribbean, the Barbados and such places. People had to have their smokes, they demanded tobacco of the farmers, and this was the way to provide it. It was a labor requirement, what in this movie is known as “the yuppie Nuremberg defense”: “Every­one's got a mortgage to pay.” In terms of America's form of government, the 13th amendment—abolishing slavery—needed ratification by 3/4 of the states. Some of those needed southern states were still occupied by the Union soldiers until they capitulated. This isn't quite the freedom of choice Nick espoused, but the film was rife with hypocrisy.


A dad who's the ultimate spin doctor might not seem fitting to educate his kid on all facets of life. (Prov. 30:7) “Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die.” On the other hand, when he comes calling, with Joey in tow, on the original Marlboro Man Lorne Lutch (Sam Elliott) who is dying of cancer, there is added education to be had. Lutch is a straight shooter (“cowboys don't like bribes.”)

(Prov. 30:8-9) “Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.” Nick seems to be not overly puffed up with his position: “Most people have this image in their heads of tobacco executives jet-setting around the world on private planes, eating foie gras as they count their money. Not me. I like to ride with the people.” He works the common folk as he travels.

Dining on an expense account with Washington Probe reporter Heather Holloway (Katie Holmes), Nick orders some wine, an '82 Margaux. “Is it good?” she asks. “Good? It'll make you believe in God.” At least he's thankful to God for his bounty.

It's when he's pitching to entertainment CEO Jeff Megall (Rob Lowe) that he's found a real high roller. Jeff's offices are so lavish that a single decorative fish cost $7000. Discussing a post-health worry sci-fi movie they stumble upon a problem with post-coital smoking. Nick points out, “But wouldn't they blow up in an all oxygen environment?” Jeff replies, “Probably. But it's an easy fix. One line of dialogue. ‘Thank God we invented the … you know, what­ever device.’” He's so rich and powerful that he can write off the laws of nature. He seems to have over­extended him­self with too much wealth.

Lincoln's faceOn the other end of the spectrum is abject poverty. You're poor, so you steal, and then you swear to God you didn't, taking God's name in vain. That won't do, either. When Nick asked the class how many wanted to be movie stars, a lot of hands went up. When he got to Holly­wood, he passed a character gone to seed holding up a sign reading, “Screen­play for Sale.” Entering a field with too much competition can leave one broke. Heather suggests cigarettes for the home­less, called hobos. For that matter she could end up the weather girl if she gets caught sleeping her way to a story. And Nick could make so many enemies that he gets mugged (“The D.C. police found you naked, lying in Lincoln's crotch.”)

We see footage of seven tobacco conglomerate execs being sworn in to testify in court. Their collective arse is on the line. Hope they honor their oath.

Production Values

” (2005) was written and directed by Jason Reitman. It was based on the satirical novel, Thank You For Smoking by Christopher Buckley. The cast features Aaron Eckhart, Robert Duvall, William H. Macy, Katie Holmes, and Maria Bello. Their dead­pan delivery was faultless, one and all.

MPAA rated it R for language and some sexual content. It runs 1½ hours. It is full of irreverent talk, outrageous gags, and dark humor: heap upon heap.

Review Conclusion w/a Christian's Recommendation

This one sure tickled my funny bone though some (perhaps all) of it was in bad taste. There's no time to feel outraged, though, because they keep dishing it out. Artistic license, and all that. A snippet here and there in isolation could be deemed offensive, but in the over­all context, who cares? None of it was at the expense of religion.

Movie Ratings

Action Factor: Weak action scenes. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Special effects: Well done special effects. Video Occasion: Fit For a Friday Evening. Suspense: A few suspenseful moments. Overall movie rating: Five stars out of five.