East Bay View (a blog about several things)

now 98% free of substantive content

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Thank You for Smoking: Burning men [movie note]

USA 2005
Starring Aaron Eckhart, Cameron Bright, William H. Macy, Robert Duvall
Adapted by Jason Reitman from the novel by Christopher Buckley
Directed by Jason Reitman

Nick Naylor (Eckhart) is a lobbyist for the tobacco industry, and he's damn good too. We learn he's not just any geek off the street, as we follow his coast-to-coast economy-class jetsetting (he does have a flight aboard Tobacco One), meeting with friends and foes of his cause, all self-serving. In the second half of the movie we're asked to take Naylor seriously as a character, and the substance isn't there. The fault belongs less to Eckhart than Reitman, who prioritises the script's three-quarter-baked ideas -- I assume his no smoking on screen policy is conscious, but it doesn't give Eckhart much to work with when trying to express withdrawal.

The actors who aren't burdened with responsibility for larger meanings are more fortunate. David Koechner, as a gun lobbyist who, after seeing TV coverage of Kent State, joined the National Guard, is gifted the least redeemable character. William H. Macy gets to show his slippery side as an anti-tobacco Senator who complains that the cancer victim his aide wheels out isn't hopeless enough. And Seth from The O.C. makes even a threat to "impale your Mom on a spike and feed her dead body to my dog with syphilis" sound obsequious.


Post a Comment

<< Home