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"Before you know it as the years go by, you're just like other people you have seen, with all those peculiar human ailments. Just another vehicle for temper and vanity and rashness and all the rest. Who wants it? Who needs it? These things occupy the place where a man's soul should be." -- Henderson the Rain King

Monday, May 22, 2006

Thank You For Smoking/The 40-Year Old Virgin

Yesterday I saw Thank You For Smoking and The 40-Year-Old Virgin, both of which have been billed as comedies that transcend the typical "main-stream Hollywood" mold.

Having heard much praise for both movies (some have even gone so far as to argue that The 40-Year-Old Virgin should have received an Oscar nod) I went in to each with high hopes. Turns out those hopes were justified in one case and not in the other.

Let's start with the bad news. The 40-Year-Old Virgin was amusing at times but on the whole I found it to be much weaker than what it's been made out to be. Some of the jokes are funny, but most of the humor is the same sophomoric stuff you'd expect to see in an American Pie-type film (for instance the whole 'You know how I know you're gay' scene). To top it off it clocks in at over two hours with a basic formulaic plot that does nothing to pass the time. Perhaps I just don't get the genius of Steve Carrell (Produce Pete is still the lamest thing the Daily Show's ever done and I still think the BBC version of The Office is funnier), but I give this one a big fat meh.

Thank You For Smoking on the other hand I found to be quite enjoyable. Aaron Eckhart is hilarious in the role of Nick Naylor, a lobbyist for the Academy of Tobacco Studies. The film is an excellent absurdist satire that is hilarious in parts and dryly comic throughout. It borders on getting overly moralistic at the end, but manages to steer through those potentially dangerous waters to escape unscathed. Although it's by no means a classic, Thank You For Smoking is one of the funnier movies I've seen in awhile and definitely one I'd recommend seeing.