Sunday, September 11, 2005

Thank You For Smoking (Jason Reitman)

Thank You For Smoking (Jason Reitman) 62 – This media-savvy satire stars Aaron Eckhart in a slimy and charismatic performance as a lead spokesperson for the conglomeration of cigarette companies. Though sometimes a bit too broad for its own good (some cheap jokes such as the funny acronyms that are bandied about don’t help matters), it’s usually funny enough to power the viewer past such complaints. Concerned primarily with the moral flexibility of its protagonist, the script does a good job of demonstrating that he’s just a cog in a machine filled with similarly unscrupulous individuals.

In the scene in which we see Eckhart teaching his son to bullshit his way through homework, which itself is on a bullshit, vague topic, the movie seems to be pointing directly at the acceptable decline in discourse that has made jobs like Eckhart’s character’s meaningless figureheads. Exchanging knowledge is far less important than winning the public opinion. Crucially, though, the movie never has the balls to challenge the lemming masses that accept easy rhetoric in public debate. As much as it pretends to be a take-no-prisoners satire, it feels an unnecessary impulse to please the audience when it should be directly insulting them. Thankfully, though, that impulse doesn’t lead to a complete retraction of the lead’s shady morality. Eckhart’s slimy grin and everything it represents remain after the dust-up has ended.

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