Thank You For Smoking centers around the life of Nick Naylor (Aaron Eckhart), chief spokesman for Big Tobacco as he tries to balance his crazy work life while being there for his son.
The film gets off to a solid start. You immediately fall in love with Nick as he uses his charisma to talk a crazed mob down. He's defending smoking, something we've known all our lives to be bad. Watching him in action makes you wonder just how long he can keep it up.
Nick is juggling a lot in his life, some of it self-induced. There are enough dominoes that could fall at any moment which is a part of what makes the film fun to watch. You're thinking, "Things have to go awry at some point." When they do, the film is even more exciting to watch as you're waiting to see how Nick is going to pull himself out of his mess.
Some of the conversations had throughout, especially between Nick and his son, are priceless. I loved the scene where Nick is talking to his son's classmates explaining to them what exactly he does. Nick manages to turn the idea of arguing on its head. According to him, if you argue correctly, you can never be wrong. The film actually makes you question the morality of selling the "wrong" things.
One of my favorite scenes involves Nick's interaction with the old Marlboro Man, a man that turned his back on the tobacco industry. Nick arrives to give the man a payoff to keep quiet. The way he goes about it is just phenomenal.
Lack of linearity helps to make the film successful. There's not much of an endgame here, but in this case, it keeps things fresh. It's not just one story, but a multitude of smaller stories within the film that make up its whole. It's a method that works well for this film.
Thank You For Smoking is an eye-opening film that gives us a perspective from the view of the "bad guy". Is Nick Naylor actually a villain? Or is it merely that people want him to be the bad guy so they don't have to deal with the concept of free will and the bad decisions we make? It's always better when someone else can be the scapegoat. Great film.