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A teenage chemotherapy patient is dubbed “Cancer Boy,” William H.Macy’s anti-smoking Vermont senator Ortolan Finistirre (yes, that’s really his name)—intent on smacking skull-and-crossbones labels on all cigarette packs—wears Birkenstocks and has a desk covered in maple syrup bottles, Katie Holmes’s intrepid journalist Heather Holloway sleeps with her sources for inside information, and Rob Lowe’s movie producer is more than happy, for the right price, to get in bed with Big Tobacco (as well as a Middle Eastern sultan known as “The Hitler of the South Pacific”) to depict smoking in movies.He should have a wheelchair, he should have trouble talking, he should have a little pet goldfish in a Zip-lock bag, hopeless.
In this moment, we understand Lumir is also an actress, a gifted one, though her issues with her mother have kept her on the sidelines writing screenplays.
There’s a juicy meta concept at the center of that Kore-eda doesn’t quite bring to fruition.
Intent on avoiding anything like an actual point of view, instead opts for an air of condescending, holier-than-thou snarkiness, looking down with equal disdain at every one of its soulless, avaricious characters, a group that also includes dying Marlboro Man Lorne Lutch (Sam Elliott), whose noble, supposedly steadfast opposition to the business he spent a lifetime advertising is easily eliminated with a shiny silver briefcase full of cold, hard, tax-free cash.
All are without scruples and all are for sale (“I suppose we all gotta pay the mortgage,” is Naylor’s favorite facetious answer to why he does what he does)—a depressingly wishy-washy stance that Reitman cowers behind so as not to offend any of his stereotypically handled capitalist targets.
Perhaps Vermont cheddar should come with a skull and crossbones. Naylor, we are here to discuss cigarettes -- not planes, not cars -- cigarettes. It doesn't come off the side of a cigarette carton.
Now as we discussed earlier these warning labels are not for those who know but rather for those who don't know. It comes from our teachers, and more importantly our parents. On his 18th birthday will you share a cigarette with him? Convinced that “if you argue correctly, you’re never wrong,” the charismatically odious Naylor lunches with his counterparts in the alcohol and firearm trade—their apocalyptic horseman trio known as The MOD Squad (as in Merchants of Death)—and promotes smoking to the classmates of his idolizing son Joey (Cameron Bright), all while believing that his deceptive profession is not only acceptable but is, in fact, the very essence of our greedy, self-interested, amoral American way.Such cynicism is certainly the attitude governing Reitman’s film (based on Christopher Buckley’s novel), which, by skewering not only Naylor and his questionable practices but also Hollywood, the media, and preachy politicians, tediously subscribes to a cover-your-ass school of social comedy in which everyone and everything prove fair game for ridicule.And here comes Senator Finisterre whose fine state is, I regret to say, clogging the nation's arteries with Vermont cheddar cheese.If we want to talk numbers, how about the millions of people dying of heart attacks?I mean -- show of hands -- Who out here thinks that cigarettes aren't dangerous?Nick: Well, the real demonstrated #1 killer in America is cholesterol.It is the job of every parent to warn their children of all the dangers of the world, including cigarettes, so that one day when they get older they can choose for themselves. Will you spend a lovely afternoon -- like one of your ludicrous cigarette advertisements? Senator Ortolan Finisterre: You see, Ron, I can't be everywhere I'm needed. I look at my son who was kind enough to come with me today, and I can't help but think that I am responsible for his growth and his development. Senator Ortolan Finisterre: Yes, I've heard you deliver that line on 20/20, but enough dancing. You seem to have to have a lot to say about how we should raise our children. That's why I send people like you to speak on my behalf. When you're there, you're not Ron Goode, a guy whom your friends probably like, you're Senator Finisterre's aide and your name really doesn't matter. So when Ron Goode acts like a complete asshole on The Joan Lunden Show, I'm being an asshole on The Joan Lunden Show. When you're looking for a cancer kid, he should be hopeless.