Movie: Thank You For Smoking Review
When author Christopher Buckley and director Jason Reitman adapted Thank You for Smoking for the screen, they kept one of the novel’s central devices — the friendship between tobacco promoter Nick Naylor and two other DC lobbyists.
Polly Bailey represented alcohol. Bobby Jay Bliss fronted for the firearms industry. Known as the M.O.D (Merchants of Death) squad, the trio also occasionally joined forces with other lobbying firms, in the book they included the:
• Society for the Humane Treatment of Calves, representing the veal industry.
• Friends of Dolphins, formerly the Pacific Tuna Fisherman’s Association.
• Brazilian Cattleman’s Association, whose chief spokesman had recently visited to discuss rainforest management and entertain them with his imitation of a cockatiel flock terrorized by bulldozers.
Over one friendly M.O.D.-Squad lunch, Nick braggedthat the cigarette industry’s kill rate far exceeded those ofalcohol and firearms. First, he chided Polly:
“I’ll put my numbers up against your numbers any day. My product puts away 475,000 a year. That’s 1,200 a day! So how many alcohol-related deaths a year? Two-hundred-and-seventy-something a day? Well, wow-wee!”
Then he challenged Bobby about annual gun deaths a year, scoffing at the total: “Thirty a day — hardly worth counting.”
Later in the film, Nick displayed a remarkable ability to shift the focus onto the wrongdoing of other industries if the situation demanded. When the Washington Probenewspaper called him responsible of the “death of billions,” he retorted:
“So, I don’t know where this individual is getting ‘billions’ from. What am I, McDonald’s?
SPOILER ALERT: That wasn’t the only time he blastedmeat and dairy producers for killing more people than Big Tobacco. He also went head-to-head against Vermont’s U.S. Senator Ortolan Finisterre.
The senator was sponsoring legislation to require a skull-and-crossbones poison label on all packs of cigarettes. Nick proclaimed:
“But the irony in all this… is that the real, demonstrated number-one killer in America is cholesterol. I don’t know any scientist who would disagree with that.”
Then he went for the Senator’s jugular:
“… I’m sure that the tobacco industry would consent to having these labels put on our product, if he will acknowledge the tragic role that his product is playing, by putting the same warning labels on these deadly chunks of solid, low-density lipoprotein that go by the name of Vermont cheddar cheese.”
So who was actually the biggest killer of them all? “Killer cheese.”
Like all good satire, Thank You for Smoking packs just enough truth to get the point across. Hopefully, that’s enough to make its viewers stop and think before ordering their next cholesterol clogging cheeseburger!