It looks like a penchant for humor runs in the family. Jason, son of Ivan Ghostbusters Reitman, makes his feature debut with Thank you for smoking, a satire aimed at lobbyists in general and tobacco lobbyists in particular. I haven’t chuckled this often during a movie in a while.
What’s interesting is how he trusts the audience to see the point. The movie is satire, but it doesn’t push too hard. Aaron Eckhart makes tobacco lobbyist Nick Naylor into such a smart guy that you find yourself laughing along with him and admiring the way he spins himself out of trouble. A fair bit of the material plays almost as it would if it wasn’t actually lampooning the subject.
The movie also has a key moment where it plays it straight. This comes right at the end and concerns Nick’s son. You could see this coming a mile off, given how much warmth and chemistry Eckhart and Cameron Bright (who plays his son) bring to their parts. What’s nice, however, is that even then, Reitman is content with just pausing long enough for us to get it, and doesn’t actually descend into much preachy dialogue.