Thank You for Smoking



Mostly clever comedy about lobbyists. For adults.
Parents recommend
  • Review Date: September 29, 2006
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2006
  • Running Time: 92 minutes

What parents need to know

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.

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.

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.

Families can talk 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

Theatrical release date:March 17, 2006
DVD release date:October 3, 2006
Cast:Aaron Eckhart, Katie Holmes, William H. Macy
Director:Jason Reitman
Studio:Fox Searchlight
Run time:92 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:language and some sexual content.

This review of Thank You for Smoking was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written byKurt Kenya January 4, 2010

Talk to your kids

This is a great vehicle for discussing critical thinking and healthy skepticism with your children, once they have the appropriate maturity level to see deeply enough into the characters. Why is this person saying what he is saying? I really don't care about the language or the smoking. Low, self-destructive behavior is all around us. We choose to participate or we don't. Another good discussion point.
Adult Written byGhcool April 9, 2008
Teen, 13 years old Written bytaconirox April 9, 2008

Very funny!

I laughed a lot. This movie is a good time, if you're mature enough to handle it. You just have to remember that smoking is bad.


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