Jason Reitman's Thank You for Smoking is a wickedly funny political satire that takes a long, smirking, sideways glance at the hypocrisy of spin, both corporate and political. The film, Reitman's feature film debut, was highly anticipated - Reitman, of course, is the son of director Ivan Reitman, and there's nothing like having a famous-director father to plop an ambitious young director squarely in the fishbowl, with everyone waiting for him to either live up to their lofty expectations, or fall flat on his face. No pressure, kid.
The script is based on a book by another famous "kid of", Christopher Buckley, son of William F. Buckley. It's hard to know whether to give more credit to Buckley for the excellent source material or Reitman for the adaptation; taking a 272 page book and condensing it succinctly into a 92 minute film, while retaining both the heart at the center and the sharpness at the edges, is no easy task, but Thank You for Smoking is slick (in a good way) and well-packaged from beginning to end. It rather reminded me of another adaptation about the cigarette biz, 1993's Barbarians at the Gate, which starred James Garner in one of the best performances of his career as H. Ross Johnson.