Monday, July 11, 2011

A Conversation with Thank You For Smoking

Unlike last week, I actually have a 'good' movie to interview. No, Christopher has a 'good' movie to interview. So let's see what kind of conversation with Jason Reitman's debut Thank You For Smoking makes...

(Newbies: This series probably peaked with the 'Conversation with Whomever Voted at the MTV Movie Awards'. But that isn't the best example of what I'm trying to do here, as when a movie is 'interviewed', I transform myself into the movie and I'm interviewed by a fake interviewer Christopher. Again, this Christopher fella isn't based on anyone living or dead...I just want a ginger cat called Christopher - yes, named after Christ Nolan)

CHRISTOPHER: So, how much were you made for?
THANK YOU FOR SMOKING: Around $6,500,000

C: Oh...
TYFS: I think you'll find that unlike that other movie you just interviewed - what was it? Oh, How Do You Know. Yes, that one that cost $120,000,000 to make. Well, did it actually earn anything? No. Me? I earnt nearly four times my budget, while that one only earnt a quarter of it's budget back.

C: So, are you a better movie than that one?
TYFS: What do you think? At least I could get some bums on seats without begging for it.

C: That's true. Your title is 'Thank You For Smoking'. Does this mean that you're all pro-smoking?
TYFS: You'd think so, as my leading man Nick Naylor is a chief spokesman for a tobacco company. He can't sell smokes? He doesn't get paid. We films always try to have the audience sympathising in some small way with the lead character. But if you want to sympathise with Nick, I guess it would be helpful if you love cigarettes. His life is all about smoking. And hey, he is talented in getting people to smoking, because his job is to tell everyone that there isn't any link between nicotine and lung cancer.

C: But surely there are other ways to sympathise with Nick?
TYFS: Oh yes, he has his problems just like any other man. He's gotta do that job, while still trying to remain a good father to his 12 year old son Joey. He has a scathing article written about him by some chick who he thought he was just sleeping with. Few people on this planet knows what it is to be truly despised. Can you blame them? He earns a living fronting an organization that kills 1200 people a day. Twelve hundred people. We're talking two jumbo jet plane loads of men, women and children. I mean, there's Attila, Genghis... and Nick Naylor. The face of cigarettes, the Colonel Sanders of nicotine. It pretty much sucks to be him.

C: With your lead character being so 'pro-smoking', does that mean you yourself can con people into smoking too?
TYFS: No. Well, I hope not. I'm merely a film depicting the world of pro-smoking versus anti-smoking...sure, the story is a little more lenient towards the pro side, but that by no means can drive someone to tobacco. In fact, I don't really have an opinion on the whole matter, I just wanted to show an insider story on what some people love, but most people have grown to hate.

C: Could you get someone to quit smoking?
TYFS: *laughs* That's what the Quitline is for.

C: Now, you have a pretty good cast. Please tell me about them.
TYFS: First off, Aaron Eckhart takes the lead. Which is good, because I think he has charm, which definitely helps him be even more smooth-talking. Along with him in the 'Merchants of Death' squad are Maria Bello and David Koechner, who play alcohol and firearm lobbyists respectively. Katie Holmes...yes, the one who is married to Tom Cruise (star power right there) plays the 'bitch' and 'whore' Heather, the journalist who has a different way of finding out information. J.K. Simmons is the leader of the pack when it comes to selling cigarettes, he's the kind of guy who wants ideas and needs them fast, otherwise you're dead (no pun intended). William H. Macy plays the guy trying to take Nick down (whether he's the good guy or the bad guy is anyone's guess). Rob Lowe is a Hollywood exec, Adam Brody is his assistant, and Sam Elliott is a cancer-stricken man who Nick tries to blackmail. As you'll see, I'm very busy. Like Nick sells cigarettes, I sell stars!

C: What's even more impressive is that this is Jason Reitman's debut - the guy who went on to make brilliant films like Juno and Up in the Air. In comparison to your...brothers, let's say, how do you hold up?
TYFS: Like any debut, I'm not as good as the future films. But I am a bloody do I put this? First child? Yes, I'm a bloody good first child. Through me you can see the talent and vigour that Reitman has with his directing. There's interesting editing, and a very cool way of introducing everyone in the film, usually via freeze frame and stereotypical narration from Nick. As for the writing side, Reitman unleashes lots of wit to keep the ball rolling - which is exactly what you'd expect from a film tackling this sort of topic. What can I say? I have a very good 'parent'. I don't have a MD or law degree. I have a bachelor's in kicking butt and taking names. Michael Jordan plays ball. Charles Manson kills people. I talk. Everyone has a talent.

C: Great. So any last words for the readers out there?
TYFS: These days, when someone smokes in the movies, they're either a psychopath...or a European.

And my rating for Thank You For Smoking:


  1. Reitman is a surprisingly good director. I really enjoyed this, too. Brilliant style of filmmaking, can't wait for the next conversation.

    Incidentally, and I know this isn't the best place to mention it, but I was thinking about 'borrowing' the idea of your "Personality Traits" post, if you don't mind. I thought it best if I check with you first.

  2. This is an really good one. I have read it and was engrossed in it. But now days you also get Electric Cigarette which are not harmful and also can help you to kick the habit.
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  3. Man, I really need to see this film. It's one of those I am ashamed to say I have yet to see. Great post!

  4. I love this movie, Aron as Nick was totally awesome. The dialogues were more like arguments rather than being just conversations, which was quite refreshing.

    As far as comparing TYFS with Up in the air and Juno, all three were different but each had a more contemporary theme to deal with. I find TYFS rather much more entertaining. Reitman is immensely talented and no doubt his best is yet to come.

    I admire your style of reviewing the movie.Its fun and much more engaging.

  5. I love this film ... Reitman's second best.

    Great stuff.

  6. Tyler - Reitman is one of my favourite directors! I love his style.

    Vance - I'm 15 and I've never I don't need an electric smoke thing.

    Matt - I took my time seeing it, but it was really good!

    Aditya - Aaron is one of my favourite actors, and his performance was brilliant in this! I love all of Reitman's stuff, they're just really refreshing films.

    Duke - Great! Reitman is brilliant.

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  8. I remember catching this at TIFF. I have been a fan of Reitman ever since. I find his work has gotten better with each film.

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  10. Very interesting interview, enjoyed it greatly.

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