April 15, 2006

Thank You For Smoking

A quality black comedy with a heart, directed and adapted for the screen by Jason Reitman (son of director Ivan Reitman [Ghostbusters, Stripes, Meatballs]). Nick Naylor (Aaron Eckhart) is blond, chin-dimpled, charming, and a frighteningly good tobacco lobbyist. The only reason we care if he's evil, soulless, or just lost his way, is that he has a mild-mannered 12-year-old son (Cameron Bright, previously squandered in Ultraviolet), who seems to be learning all the right lessons from his dad. NOTE: I sometimes wonder if it's possible to portray a preadolescent boy in the movies that's not grating, mannered, or precocious. Cameron Bright is swell in this movie and avoids all those pitfalls.

thankyouforsmokingWhat sets this movie apart from another "cancer comedy" is this relationship. How do you let your son into your everyday working life, and honestly explain to him why you do things which appear to be morally corrupt? How do you teach your son how to be a man when you do things everyday that you wouldn't want him to do? I wonder if this theme resonated with the 29-year old Reitman, because his father Ivan works in another morality-free zone, Hollywood? Early in the movie, Reitman overly relies on cute bells and whistles, especially humorous onscreen captions. The movie is a little episodic in places, and generally rough around the edges, but certainly a worthy debut.

THEATER NOTE: Emily and I went to this art house, the Montgomery Cinema in Montgomery, NJ, with my soon-to-be sister-in-law Rebecca and her beau Eric.