Friday, March 24, 2006

Thank You For (Being) Smoking (Hot)

Aaron Eckhart plays a devil in nearly every movie he's in (the too good to be true biker boyfriend in Erin Brockovich a notable exception). But he's a handsome devil, isn't he? So his casting as Nicky Naylor, serpent-tongued tobacco lobbyist in Thank You For Smoking, is a bullseye. Maria Bello plays a fellow "merchant of death" lobbyist only she works for Alcohol. Her performance made me smile as well. In publicity photos and awards shows I keep seeing Maria with flowers in her hair and even though that's usually a better look for a drag queen, I find it endearing on her.

[Gaggy Name-Dropping Tangent: I went to the same college as Aaron and I have videotapes of him in short student films. No lie.]

Thank You For Smoking has lots of great tiny moments and a game cast (excluding Katie Holmes. Why would anyone cast her as a sexpot when she always looks so sexless and modest?) but the film is not as sharp and biting as it wants to be. It needs the machinegun blink and you missed it pacing of something like His Girl Friday but it moves like anything else at the multiplex. Mistake. The biggest flaw is that it has an intrusive parallel plot about Naylors warm relationship with his son, the creepy older than his years Cameron Bright from Birth, which throws off the satiric tone.

I really wanted to like this. I'm certain that many people will. But it's a mixed bag for me.


Anonymous said...

Cruise-hijacking aside, I do sorta think Katie Holmes has potential, based on her work on Dawson. (OK, Michelle Williams was always the thespian standout to me, and I'm not just jumping on the bandwagon now she's flirted with Oscar - she killed me in that Dawson finale.) Her Pieces of April turn was almost impressive had she not been upstaged by Patty and indeed a script which seemed streteched in only 70 minutes.

But I couldn't agree with you more about how miscast she surely must be as a sexpot. I still shudder when I think of her in The Gift. When I'm less comfortable with Holmes's work than I am with Keanu Reeves, I know something's "off".


Anonymous said...


OMG, I can't believe I'm not the only one on your board who went to BY-fuckin'-U! Small world, ain't it? (I was there from 1996-2001, by the way.)

I also saw a student film Aaron and Neil LaBute made while they were undergrads at BYU. If memory serves, it was a gritty short shot in the desert; I don't recall what it was about exactly, but it was dark, and definitely made me sit up and finally pay attention in my literature and film class.

LOL...I can't believe there's a Mormon connection up in here. I'm also a gay, progressive, lapsed Mormon cineaste. Gee, who knew we were legion!


Anonymous said...

Yeah, Eckhart is veddy hot. I think he was his hottest in Possession (a decent film, actually).

Anyway, the WOM on Thank You For Smoking is rather discouraging. The trailer got me all excited, but then I started hearing about how it was too pleased with itself.

That's too bad. I was really looking forward to the film.