Did You Miss the Most Shocking Film in Years?

Few ever talk about it, but this might be the most controversial movie in decades. The Nostalgia Critic looks at 2005’s Thank You for Smoking.

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About Doug Walker

Creator of 5 Second Movies, Nostalgia Critic, Bum Reviews and more.

198 comments

  1. this is a great movie hope you shed some more light on it. this is why iv been telling people about your show. you have a few more soldier fans now. was wondering if you knew your stuff was on hard drives being passed around Afghanistan. that’s how i found out about you. keep up the good work

  2. I never hear of this movie…but it sounds like it should go on my movie night list. Thanks for the review! Whether I end up loving or hating it, if it’s as smart as it sounds, it’ll be worth the mental exercise.

  3. Yes, thank you so much for talking about this one. Thank You for Smoking is by far Jason Reitman’s best work and definitely in my top 20 favorite films, maybe even top 10. Its definitely a film that needs to be talked about more.

  4. If you want a show with a similarly “controversial” feel that’s played a lot more straight, watch Mr. Robot. It’s opposite in a lot of ways, but the boldness of its message and the chances it takes are pretty unlike any other show on TV. Rami Malek is pretty and a good actor, too.

  5. I’ve seen the movie before so I knew what the video was going to be about just from the thumbnail but….
    I got an anti smoking PSA as the preroll ad. That made me chuckle a bit.

  6. I remember seeing this movie, and appreciating it as a intellectually intriguing and definitely gutsy study about persuasion and verbal gymnastics. It is what I like satire to be.

  7. So, the message is, “People should be allowed to like what they like.” Unless it has Superman killing someone, in which case they should be tarred and feathered.

  8. Hi Doug! Can you please do a Nostalgia Critic review on the movie Freddie As F.R.O.7?

  9. I saw this movie when it came out internationally. I found it amazing!
    Spoiler warning! Scroll past this if you haven’t seen this movie yet, because you should because it’s amazing!

    One of my favorite moments is when Nick Naylor is in hospital after an over-dose of nicotine patches and the doctor tells him “No non-smoker could have survived that much nicotine. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but smoking saved your life!”

    Spoiler over.
    That shows just how much the movie plays out like a pro-smoking film, but you know it’s so tongue-in-cheek that it isn’t.

  10. The reason it wasn’t talked too much when it came out was it came out a decade after it was pertinent. By 2006 the smoking controversy which had sparked the book this film was based on, was a decade in the past. Smoking as an issue was an issue of the mid-to-late 1990s. And a lot of the attitudes of the film promote the kind of laissez-faire attitudes that American society held at that time. Similarly it embraces the political spin culture that was in its heyday when Clinton was saying “that depends upon what the definition of “is”, is” and Bush’s many political spins of the early 2000s which was the death of said political culture. The film advocates seeing the advantage in a big corporate takeover sure, because that’s what the favorable societal opinion was in the late 1990s and early 2000s–I recall one argument circa 2000 or so where the idea that something could be “corporate-funded” or “corporate-owned” and be a better quality product or service than a “publicly owned” or a “publicly funded” version of the same product or service (like for instance a fire company or a library) was the trending popular opinion of the time.

    What killed that opinion & culture? Well George W. Bush and the Great Recession did. George W. Bush took “political spin” to the point where it became blatantly obvious (and made the electorate yearn for someone promising to be less of a political spin doctor–at least in appearance) and killed it. The Great Recession beginning made people pay attention as government and corporations colluded to receive “golden parachutes” to stave off financial collapse while everyone else “suffered”.

    Where before the idea that “corporations are evil and trying to manipulate our government” was put into films such as “The Manchurian Candidate” reboot from 2006 and looked rather laughable or were fringe thoughts such as the V for Vendetta film, suddenly after the “Golden Parachutes” incident it was laid bare for all to see, and suddenly no one was thinking it was laughable or fringe anymore–it was mainstream accepted thought.

    So what changed about our culture that made this film so “controversial”? The completion of W.’s term and the onset of the Great Recession–the reaction to which killed the last ties to the world of the late 1990s and early 2000s laissez-faire attitudes.

    Thus, the film in the end was a late to the party adaptation of a novel which made a tremendous splash and captured the zeitgeist of its era. And while in 2006 it still had some connections to that era left (the Dvd release pointedly connects Clinton’s “is” statement with several Bush quotes in its featurettes), it was mostly a decade too late to be as big a hit as its book had been.

    The fact that the film is being lauded as “controversial” now by the Nostalgia Critic, just shows how much that political culture has changed since the 2000s and 1990s but it also shows how society has changed its narrative since its release. The biggest change being the election of Obama and the political rise of Millennials that began coincidentally in 2006 (that was the first election where you could see Millennials having an impact on the results).

    In that lens, “Thank You For Smoking” was preserving a dying culture that was on its way out, but that there were still some ties to in 2006. Since then those few ties that had remained have been severed and we feel the distance of the environment this film was responding to now as “controversial” compared to the world we now live in.

  11. There’s nothing controversial about this movie. That’s why there was no controversy. Nobody thought the movie was encouraging smoking, nor is the movie trying to inform the public of an unpopular opinion.

    Once again, Doug’s editorial is nowhere rooted in reality as he comes up with another excuse to write an editorial. If Doug wanted to make a truly controversial editorial, he’d make one called “Give me advertising money and I’ll give you a lazily made analysis”. It’d be controversial because unlike this editorial, it spells out the unpopular truth.

  12. I saw this movie for one of my classes in college. What I really disliked was the part when he explains how you win an argument by proving the other side wrong. That’s the worst technique you can use, and yet it’s the most popular because it never really resolves an issue.

    Also, the whole “freedom to choose” thing just doesn’t work when you apply it to cigarettes because of second-hand smoke.

  13. Well, I suppose that’s one way to describe ‘Super Mario Bros. 2’. 😛

  14. So your argument is this should be a shocking movie because it argues intelligently for individual freedom and personal responsibility? The reason this wasn’t as shocking 10 years ago is people weren’t QUITE as stupidly PC as they are now. You are what is wrong with America.

  15. The dek is nonsensical: “Few ever talk about it, but this might be the most controversial movie in decades.” Well, if no one talks about it, there can’t have been controversy. Controversy is a public reaction; for it to exist, the public must first react, which it generally doesn’t do to obscure things that “few ever talk about.”

    Further, I think Mr. Walker is entirely misinterpreting this film and its main character. Naylor doesn’t really advocate free choice: That’s just the pretty face he puts onto what he does. He wants people to *think* they’re making a choice for themselves when in reality he has just manipulated them into doing what he wants. And he’s very good at this: he never really lies to anybody or even coerces them. Instead he deceives them in many small ways.

    He knows that the general public probably wants to do what he wants them to do in the first place, but their better judgment stops them. S his job is to cloud the matter so much that it becomes easier to simply not think about it. He even does this to his son, and to a degree to himself as well.

    Of course we find him charming and seemingly likable; that’s how people who are manipulating you always seem. And yes, the general thrust of the film is that EVERYONE does this to one degree or another. But that doesn’t mean it’s a good thing, or that the film supports it. I think Mr. Walker has actually let the character sucker him.

  16. I never found this movie shocking at all.

  17. The movie doesn’t really seem that shocking. However, I do like the message of it.

    The only people I see having a problem with it today are those thin-skinned Tumblrinas that are offended and triggered by everything and somehow develop PTSD from it. But nobody likes those people, or at least SHOULD like those people anyway.

    I’m adding this movie to my want to watch list.

  18. Uhhh Doug… do you think you didn’t maybe miss the point? It seems to me like this movie is more about portraying how that industry wilfully misleads people with its billions of dollars and charming sociopath PR reps? This doesn’t seem like a movie presenting the tobacco rep as the good guy, but a story about following the bad guy and watching how he screws up the world, and how to fight that kind of power, there’s unpleasant things the actual good guys might have to do.

    • Also that half-assed logic that “your cheese kills more people through cholesterol argleflargleblargle” needs to sod off as the bollocks that it is.

      Yes, unhealthy food can lead to death, but trying to single out a single food product (like cheese) and directly compare it to tobacco fatality rates is ludicrous for a few reasons, firstly that cheese is far from the only fattening food out there, so it only represents part of the bodycount while tobacco itself has a larger bodycount it is solely responsible for. Secondly, unhealthy food is generally not Addictive in the genuine medical sense of the word so the personal choice option is actually a legitimate choice rather than one skewed by addiction. Thirdly, it is possible to have a safe, healthy amount of cheese in MODERATION, not so for Tobacco.

      By all means, discuss an interesting and thought-provoking movie, but don’t give legitimacy to the half-assed false equivalencies that lobby tries and ignore the obvious issue of ADDICTION.

    • Um, I believe that’s exactly what he said. In fact, it’s one of the first thongs he addresses! Also, “do you think maybe you didn’t miss the point?” Nice double – negative, bro.

  19. TheRottenLeprechaun

    I love this movie. However I always thought people didn’t smoke in the movie to avoid an R-rating.

    • Having smoking in movies doesn’t get them an R rating. Not yet, at least. There are definitely people pushing for it, but it’s never gotten anywhere.

  20. I remember watching this movie in high school for my media class, since we were learning about advertising; and one of the things we were discussing was smoking advertising. It was an okay movie, I don’t remember much about it.

  21. when i saw this on TV i thought it was a dark knight prequel

  22. The Cartoon Physicist

    I’m glad you spotlighted this movie since I’m going to review that movie soon.

  23. I do love this movie, It has a parody element to it. The merchant’s of death group is a good example of that.

  24. I saw this movie when it was still in theaters. It’s one of my favorite comedies.

  25. Awesome video Doug! You’re acting like a, what’s that word, a critic? Yes, a critic!! How about that!!

    More of this awesomeness please, and less cringey sketches.

  26. This is one of my favourite movies ever.

  27. Bought this film on DVD and watched it once. Only once. It was a good film and everything but I, strangely, found that it wasn’t one I needed to go back to and watch again.

  28. Doug. When Lion 3: Straight to Video?

  29. Oh I remember this damn movie’s trailer. I was at the theater for Ice Age 2 with my dad, and for some reason, this movie’s trailer was allowed to air in the previews.

    Thank you for reminding me about this piece of trash film, Critic.

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