Thank You for Smoking

Movie review by
Cynthia Fuchs, Common Sense Media
Thank You for Smoking Movie Poster Image
Parents recommend
Mostly clever comedy about lobbyists. For adults.
  • R
  • 2006
  • 92 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 6 reviews

Kids say

age 16+
Based on 8 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Lobbyist defends his job as "talking for a living," arguing that he is only encouraging people to "think for themselves," but he is selling smoking; other members of the MOD squad discuss their selling of alcohol and firearms, noting the numbers who die from use of these products; senators are corrupt, as are the tobacco executives, and the reporter sleeps with Nick to get her story.


Bobby Jay's childhood flashback shows him with a firearm (he also describes his inspiration to support the NRA was hearing about the Kent State shootings; he wanted to be able to "shoot students"); TV image shows baby seal killed by whale; Sands of Iwo Jima scene shows John Wayne shot; Nick violently kidnapped and assaulted with nicotine patches.


Sex scene, though shots frame bodies discreetly; multiple uses of the f-word to mean sexual activity.


Frequent use of the f-word (over 20 instances); multiple s-words, as well as "crotch," "ass," "assh--e," "damn," and "hell," and several slang references to male genitals and female body parts.


Major theme is advertising (as lobbying is a form of spin and contributes to advertising); Coke; Vermont state products (syrup, cheese); mentions of Red Bull, Marlboro Man, Kool cigarettes, MSNBC, Ford cars, Newsweek, Washington Post.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Though all about the cigarette industry and lobbying, the film shows no smoking; characters drink in restaurant; the senator keeps liquor in his desk; the captain drinks mint juleps; jokey references to drugs (crack, Colombian dealer); Nick is hospitalized following an overdose of anti-smoking nicotine patches.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this film includes frequent use of the f-word (over 20 times). Lobbyists discuss their devious tactics and corrupt employers (firearms, alcohol, and Big Tobacco), comparing death tolls, diseases (fetal alcohol syndrome, cancer), and gruesome inspirations (the gun lobbyist was moved by the shootings at Kent State). Nick is kidnapped and covered with nicotine patches, landing in the hospital. Characters do not smoke on screen, but they do drink occasionally. Characters discuss sex and lust using slang; one sex scene. A primary theme suggests that lobbying is a form of lying to sell product and ideas.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byrenroc June 7, 2013

Thought provoking; a good primer on how to be critical of advertising

It's important to realize that Big Tobacco and the other less-than-favorable aspects of the movie are presented as, well, less-than-favorable. Slick arguer... Continue reading
Adult Written byParranormalHour February 5, 2012

Probably seen worse

I watched this with my eleven year old cousin. (She was 10 at the time) Note this kid has seen worse and could probably beat up my high school's football t... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byloveizscary April 9, 2008

I learned alot!

I watched this movie afterschool in my government class. After watching the movie we were required to write a paper about how the movie simulated lobbyists fro... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byChipBloch September 25, 2011

What's the big deal?

So the characters promote smoking. Big deal. I've watched the movie at least a dozen times and I've lost count of how many times I read the book. I... Continue reading

What's the story?

Employed by Big Tobacco, Washington DC lobbyist Nick Naylor (Aaron Eckhart) argues that even if cigarettes are toxic, they're not illegal, so it's up to the individual whether to smoke them. Part of a threesome that call themselves the M.O.D. Squad (Merchants of Death), Nick's fellow lobbyists include alcohol lobbyist Polly (Maria Bello) and firearms lobbyist Bobby (David Koechner). They spend their lunchtimes drinking in a red leather booth at Bert's, comparing notes and numbers of deaths with regard to their hurtful, well-paying jobs. Other characters in Nick's world include a skuzzy Hollywood producer (Rob Lowe), a righteous Senator Finistirre (William H. Macy), and a tobacco magnate (Robert Duvall). Nick's revelation begins when he meets the debilitated, lung-cancerous Marlboro Man Lorne Lutch (Sam Elliott). Nick is supposed to convince him to give up his threat to out tobacco's malicious intents. Nick's talking gets him into trouble with Washington Post reporter Heather Holloway (Katie Holmes) when he blabs crucial secrets.

Is it any good?

Based on Christopher Buckley's popular novel, THANK YOU FOR SMOKING isn't as clever as it seems to be, and it doesn't exactly condemn or admire Nick. But it does question his nihilism, in part through his adoring and inquisitive son, whose big-eyed reaction shots underline that Nick has responsibilities, beyond the job. While Nick thinks for a minute he wants to raise up Joey in his own image, when he starts to doubt the moral relativism of his soulless arguments, the relationship changes. "If you argue correctly," he tells Joey, "you're never wrong." Nick's a great talker, Thank You submits, but he's not right.

The film's smartest scenes involve The M.O.D. Squad. The group's honesty provides sharp contrast with the film's other fall guys who, whether callous or dumb or egotistical, are stereotypes that offer no new insights, just easy targets.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Nick's relationship with his son Joey: How does the son challenge his dad's thinking? How does his admiration of his father make Nick question himself? How does the Marlboro Man serve as a kind of father figure for Nick, who sees in him a victim of the product he pitches?

Movie details

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