18 February 2009

DVD: "Thank You for Smoking" - Widescreen

Thank You for Smoking
Written for the Screen and Directed by Jason Reitman
Based on the Novel by Christopher Buckley
Starring: Aaron Eckhart, Maria Bello, Cameron Bright, Adam Brody, Sam Elliott, Katie Holmes, David Koechner, Rob Lowe, William H. Macy, J.K. Simmons and Robert Duvall
DVD Release Date: 3 October 2006
MPAA Rating: R (For Language and Some Sexual Content)
List Price: $19.98
Cinescope Personality Type: Dedicated Idealist

The Film
Nick Naylor (Eckhart, brilliantly) is the point man for the tobacco lobby in Washington, D.C. in the late 1990s.  He is at odds with seemingly the entire world, from his ex-wife to his boss (Simmons), from a U.S. Senator (Macy) to an entire Joan audience.  It's impossible to dislike Nick, mostly because of the charisma of Eckhart.  The whole thing is played for laughs, but under the humor is a compelling examination of where responsible action ends and policing begins.  As a society, where do we draw the line between personal freedom and ignoring a danger?  

This has one of the greatest slipcases of any DVD, as it gives the DVD the appearance of a cigarette package, so be sure to find a copy that has one.  As far as bonus material, I cannot imagine anything left to be said about this project that isn't in one of the several features.  There are two commenataries, one with Reitman and another where he is joined by Eckhart and Koechner; truthfully, Reitman's solo commentary offers no meaningful insight that he does not repeat in the group commentary, so if you're only partially interested in hearing one, I advise you to play that one.  There are, of course, deleted scenes (with optional commentary by Reitman), a featurette on the making of the film, one that discusses the role of spin in our political climate and an entire episode of The Charlie Rose Show featuring a roundtable discussion of the film with Reitman, Eckhart, Buckley and producer David O. Sacks.

The Recommendation
Director Reitman characterizes this as "a Libertarian film," and maybe that's why it is so polarizing.  It appears that moderates on either side of the political spectrum will find something to enjoy about this film and its arguments, though extremists will find their blood pressure rising quickly.  If you lose your sense of humor at any point, this might become your Fahrenheit 451; take it all in fun, though, and it's a great romp with a brilliant cast all of whom turned in delicious performances.

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