Would You Bet Your Life On The Bottom Line?
“Thank You For Smoking” is a satirical comedy which is graceful, yet brutal. This film targets the pro-tobacco lobbyists, who would like the public to believe that smoking cigarettes is not harmful. It stars Aaron Eckhart as Nick Naylor, who is the spokesman for the Academy of Tobacco Studies. The opening scene starts with Nick appearing on "The Joan Lunden Show," sitting beside a bald-headed boy named Robin, a 15-year-old boy dying of cancer, but who has stopped smoking. Nick is ready for the challenge that awaits him. He speaks to the audience and to the cameras, "It's in our best interests to keep Robin alive and smoking." He goes on to imply that "The anti-smoking people want Robin to die." Does Nick really care about people's health or just the “bottom line” of the company he represents, which directly benefits his personal “bottom line”? His position keeps him very busy, spinning the public's heads so they can not tell which direction the truth is coming from. Nick seems to be so disconnected from reality that he misses the fact that his son Joey, who we will soon meet, is only a few years younger than Robin. As the cherry on top, he states that “Big Tobacco” is pledging $50 million towards an anti-teen smoking campaign. Nick Naylor is divorced. He has a preteen son named Joey (Cameron Bright), whom he enjoys taking to work and showing what he does for a living. He has also been teaching Joey that all he needs to do is to focus on the argument to win. To win an argument, says Nick, you do not need to convince anyone of anything; all you need to do is just need beat the other person. Nick speaks to Joey’s class on career day, but before he does, Joey begs him, "Please don't ruin my childhood." Joey was embarrassed by the way Nick constantly turns arguments around and places the blame on others. Nick goes to the front of the class and continues to do what he does best, put a spin on smoking. A little girl states, “My mother says that cigarettes can kill you.” In true “Nick Naylor fashion”, he starts to cross-examine her. He asks her, "Is your mother a doctor?" By spinning her statement, Nick has planted a seed of doubt in this girl's head, which will cause her to question other things she is told by her mother. Once a week Nick has a social dinner with his friends, termed “The MOD (Merchants Of Death) Squad,” whose members include an alcohol lobbyist, Polly Bailey (Maria Bello), and a firearms lobbyist, Bobby Jay Bliss (David Koechner). Throughout the film, these three stroke their own egos, by arguing over which of their products kills the most people. Clearly they compete with each other for most wins, despite the harm their products cause consumers. This group operates as peer advisers, but it is obvious that they admire Nick and his success above their own. The dialogue in this film is something that can easily be understood. In one scene Nick’s son was asking for help on a school assignment and asked, "Dad, why is the American government the best government?" Nick’s reply was, "Because of our endless appeals system." Nick is teaching Joey another factor in the art of argument, and ultimately educating him about his pursuit of successful. It is obvious that Nick wants to be a good father, but his ego and blindness get in the way of seeing the inappropriateness of teaching a young child how to manipulate others. Nick is sent to visit the Captain, the head of big tobacco, to discuss his idea about how to get more people to start smoking. This would involve getting Hollywood “on board” by having more characters smoke on the big screen. The Captain tells Nick to take a trip to Hollywood and negotiate with a super-agent, Jeff Megall (Rob Lowe), and to discuss how they can persuade the movie stars to start smoking onscreen again. This is where Joey starts to understand the art of negotiation. Joey uses his new found talent to persuade his mom...
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