Before we begin talking about thank you for smoking lets take a minute to appreciate the courage shown by the writers,actors,directors and the rest of the crew to bring a movie like Thank you for Smoking on the big screen. Are you having trouble finding something to appreciate? Well I don't blame you to be honest. The film deals with a very sensitive issue about nicotine lobbyists fighting to protect(?) the rights of smokers. Now the subject itself is enough to cast the movie into all kinds of controversies which would lead one to assume that the makers of the movie would want to go for a very innocuous title. Some thing like ... I don't know maybe Nick? or Puff? you know something that makes it easy to talk about. They don't pull any punches though. And there is the title of the movie in bold "Thank you for smoking!".
All right. So Nick Naylor is the lobbyist for a cigarette manufacturing company. His job is to mitigate the hate that the political parties are throwing at them for deaths due to cigarette smoking. Nick holds all the losing cards. Smoking does indeed cause many fatal medical diseases that are hard to defend. Smoking does indeed kill. But does he give up?
No. On the contrary amidst all the confusion and hysteria of the political campaigns, questionable journalism and public outcry there is Nick Naylor. Calm,cool and composed. Doing his job to pay the mortgage.
No one would expect a person to go on stage in a TV reality show filming to debate on whether cigarette smoking causes cancer in the presence of a 15 year old terminal cancer patient. But Nick does. Even his boss would not expect much from a person in Nick's position,despised by the world, hated by one and all, to even get up in the morning and go to another cancer patient offering him sympathy money so that he could stop harming the company. But Nick does. And he does all this "without an MD or a law degree but just a bachelors in taking names and kicking butt".
Despite all his show of strength Nick is lonely. He tries very hard to be a good father to his son knowing very well that his son is exposed to all the media hate that is thrown at him.
He has few friends. Well only two. The members M.O.D. squad. A very exclusive club consisting of the lobbyists for the alcohol company and the arms manufacturing company. Over dinner they talk about how many people their organizations kill annually. The take much pride in throwing out statistics. The truth is it was very hard for these people to make any friends so they kept each other company. Cynically laughing off their own despicable work.
And then there is Nick's team. The genius German scientist,who could disprove gravity and who has not yet found any conclusive evidence that shows cigarette smoking causes cancer. The battery of lawyers "scooped up straight" from top institutions. And truckloads of money.
That does not however mean that Nick is invincible. All it takes to clear the smoke is one mean ( and hot) journalist, played to perfection by Katie Holmes, to make him spit out all his secrets. Is Nick any good when he is not being a "Sultan of spin" ?
The thing that I like the most about thank you for smoking is that it does not take any sides. It is the story of a man who makes a living by defending the cigarette manufacturing companies. He is hated for it. But he does his work with enthusiasm and honesty. According to him he does what he does because he likes to defend the indefensible. Is there honor in that? You decide after watching the movie.