By Noah Beaver
What if I told you that there was a movie that made giant corporations look appealing, lobbyists promoting good health like scum bags, and that smoking is cool as hell? That movie is Thank You for Smoking.
Our protagonist is Nick Naylor, played by Aaron Eckhart. He’s a spokesperson for the world’s biggest cigarette company. His job is to convince as many people as possible that smoking is good for you.
His antagonist is a senator from Vermont, played by William H Macy. He’s trying to prove what should be obvious: that smoking kills. His overall goal is to make it
mandatory for cigarette companies to put image labels that warn about the effects of Tobacco.
With this description alone, you’d probably think of Nick Naylor as the bad guy, just like in an after school special. However, that’s not the case. Nick’s job is to convince the masses of the pros of smoking. And the thing is, he’s great at it. He convinces by having actual valid points, such as the fact that cholesterol is a much bigger killer than cigarettes, if cigarettes should have a giant warning label, shouldn’t also Vermont cheese?
His rival is trying to put a giant label with a skull on crossbones on all cigarette boxes, so that everyone will know of the dangers of smoking. But the fact is, everyone knows about the dangers of smoking. Schools and parents both already warn of the dangers of smoking, as they should. So why should a cigarette box do the same? Nick believes that with the knowledge present, people have the right to choose for themselves.
You may still believe that this movie isn’t worth watching, because you still don’t believe in it’s message. You probably have family members who have lost their lives to smoking. So, have I, and I don’t believe that smoking is good for you at all, or that cigarettes companies should have the freedom to sell to everybody. And neither does this movie.
A story almost always gives you a clear good guy and a clear bad guy. Or maybe it will give you a redeemable bad guy, or even no bad guys at all. Part of the genius of this movie is, neither are obvious. The smoking company is corrupt for trying to make as much money as possible, selling the deadliest substance in the world. But the lobbyists against it are just as corrupt, they use the same advertising tactics cigarette companies use to influence the public, censor media from having any of the characters smoking (even as far as to censor old ones by replacing the characters smoking with having a lollipop or candy cane in the mouth), and profit from raising the tax dollars of cigarettes.
If you’re a fan of comedies/satire, watch this movie. If you want a reason to smoke, watch this movie. If you believe that all smoking should be banned, and that you’re 100% sure that this film would do nothing but offend you, watch it. Because the only thing offensive about this movie, is the message, and the only possible danger you could get from it is finding out that your beliefs are wrong.
PS Also this film is rated R. That’s only because it uses “the f-word” too many times, it doesn’t use any swear words stronger than that, nor does it include any naughty body parts.