Thank You For Smoking - We've Come Along Way, Baby

20th Century Fox
Duration: 92min
Category: drama
Available: On DVD
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Thank You For Smoking is a fairly quintessential post-modern film in that it takes one of the most unlikeable characters imaginable, tries to make a protagonist out of him and in the process raps us all on the knuckles for our hypocrisy and self-denial.

Thank You For Smoking is the story of a tobacco lobbyist. Lobbyists are bad enough, they make lawyers look good, but add the tobacco industry into the mix and you donít get a whole lot closer to Satan than that. Then you give him 90 minutes to justify his existence and you can imagine the dark humour possibilities that arise.

From here the film takes the fairly easy road. How hard is it to make fun of the evils of big tobacco, corporate corruption, capital hill self-righteousness, right-wing gun nuts? It is too bad Thank You For Smoking doesnít get more original than that but I guess it doesnít have to. Itís like shooting fish in a barrelÖ at least I think thatís the expression, but since I am not a gun enthusiast, I would probably still miss.

Thank You For Smoking doesnít miss any of its easy targets. It especially nails the biggest target of all, our western society which both condemns and celebrates the corruption and hypocrisy that allow us all to be rich and oblivious. Our hero gets away with what he does because heís human and so is everyone else. We are all as guilty as him of taking advantage and therefore heís just one of us.

This works well mostly because of Aaron Eckhart who plays the lead and has made a career out of nailing the slime-ball characters out of the park. The sincerity he brings as well as his grown-up-frat-boy sarcastic timing make the character work. We root for him because heís right. We are all full of it for condemning him while wallowing in our own self-indulgence.

Thank You For Smoking isnít laugh out loud funny. The jokes, while somewhat obvious, manage to be sly, just like our lead. The characters donít have to be unlikable because in reality they are just as human as the next guy. Hypocrisy is everywhere and Thank You For Smoking revels in it.

Review By: Collin Smith

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