William H. Macy
SMOKING works first and foremost as a clever and hilarious satire, not just of the tobacco industry itself, but of our "blameless" modern society in general, and the equally oblivious counter-culture. It takes some brutally funny jabs at everything from mass media and Hollywood to politics and parenting. Hearing Nick Naylor defend smoking to a class full of ten year olds is almost as ridiculous and side-splitting as Rob Lowe’s idea for a cigarette-laden sci-fi epic starring Brad Pitt and zero-gravity sex. That being said, there are enough serious human moments that give the film much-needed emotional weight to keep it grounded is some realm of reality. And unlike a lot of less focused and cheap-shot satiric films, this one manages to avoid being annoyingly preachy or one-sided. If anything, Reitman comes off as incredibly well-informed about every issue he presents, even if he’s completely destroying it.
The young director assembled an amazing cast his first time out—William H. Macy, Maria Bello, David Koechner, Robert Duvall, Sam Elliott, Katie Holmes to name a few—and although most are just glorified cameos, there’s not a weak link in the bunch. But the anchor of this entertaining ship, and the man who honestly deserves most of the credit for THANK YOU FOR SMOKING’s success, is Aaron Eckhart. Echkhart is ruthlessly funny with his smooth talking and far-reaching analogies and even makes Naylor’s despicable qualities seem charismatic as hell. Based on what I’ve seen of Eckhart in other movies, the man is not an obvious choice for this kind of sleazy/lovable character, but now I can’t picture anybody else in this great role. And in this case it’s a role that really makes the movie.
Commentary by director Jason Reitman: Reitman is quite funny and down to earth but there’s a good bit of quiet time, as if he wants to hear all the funny parts himself.
Commentary by Reitman and actors Aaron Eckhart and David Koechner: A nice mix of serious conversation and funny goofing around. I’m not sure why we need two commentaries; this one is much livelier and covers a lot of the same stuff as the previous one. And let us not forget one thing—Champ Kind rules. Whammy!
Deleted Scenes (15:35): Thirteen clips; there are a few funny bits, but most are just filler.
The Charlie Rose Show (18:22): I’m a big fan of Mr. Rose’s show and this episode is no different. With the director, producer, star and author of the original book all present at the table, the conversation covers all different aspects of the movie in an intelligent and entertaining manner.
Unfiltered Comedy: The Making of THANK YOU FOR SMOKING (8:57): By “Making of” they obviously mean a ten-minute advertisement with bits of interview strewn in.
America: Living in Spin (4:56): A quick glimpse at the world of “spin” (i.e. professional lying), be it in politics, the news or even [gasp!] Hollywood.
Galleries: Separate collections of Posters, Storyboards and various Artwork.
Cap it off with a Theatrical Trailer and a Soundtrack Spot and you can call it a night.
Little Known Fact: Almost every anti-smoking ad you see on TV is paid for by the tobacco industry. It’s nice/scary to know that Nick Naylors really do exist.