July 23, 2007

Thank You For Smoking: Addicting

Now that we've broken through the "Great Netflix Backlog of 2007", Kristine and I are trying to enjoy her summer off from teaching by catching up on some long-awaited DVDs, some which were shows well recommended by others, and some we instead opted to skip when they were in the theater.

Last week, we enjoyed the topical comedy "Thank You For Smoking", which followed a big tobacco lobbyist and his crusade to creatively promote cigarette consumption, while at the same time, maintaining his sanity and being a good role model as a father. At a time when so many communities are becoming smoke free, and headlines of death and disease are common, the lead actor, a spokesman for the Academy of Tobacco Studies, had quite a tightrope walk to do, to espouse both the purported positives and minimize the evils of cigarettes.

The movie is amusingly done, such that you find yourself rooting in favor of the tobacco lobbyist, and against the political and cultural machines that swing in action to destroy his work. Unfortunately for him, he becomes too tightly entwined with an investigative reporter, who mixes business with pleasure, and costs him his job. But unmatched in his ability to spin out of the situation, he survives.

Surprisingly, the film isn't preachy. It doesn't try to convince the audience that smoking is evil, or in reverse, that the lead actor's spin is on target. Simply by placing us in the mind of one of America's most likely hated people, we find his daily challenge intriguing. He didn't convince me to start smoking, but I'm definitely glad I saw the film.

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