THANK YOU FOR SMOKING (Jason Reitman, 2006)

Despite what we’ve been told, the film of Christopher Buckley’s Thank You for Smoking is painfully tedious and unfunny, forced, witless, sophomoric, very SNL. It’s exasperating.
     Is there any point to it? Perhaps there’s a point to the book; the film has no point, no motive, no reach. It is basically inert matter.
     The acting is thin. The two best performances come from unlikely sources. On the basis of Batman Begins (Christopher Nolan, 2005), I had assumed that Katie Holmes has nothing whatsoever to bring to a part; but here she is sharp, intelligent and, in one deft instance, funny. But the best performance by far comes from Adam Brody!—you know, the smart-alecky Jewish kid from television’s departed The O.C. He is really funny here—and playing his actual age rather than younger. I only wish the film were at his level. Instead, it is at the level of Rob Lowe, who gives yet another stupefyingly inept “performance.” The father-son stuff at the forefront of the action is vacuous.
     The director is Jason Reitman, the twentysomething son of Ivan Reitman. The law of accidents says this is not possible, but Reitman fails to come up with a single interesting or even engaging shot for the film’s whole (and protracted) length.
     Altogether, Thank You for Smoking is meaningless.

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