As I think about it, each movie that I can recall her in would have been better with, say, Mary-Louise Parker in her place. Or a flowering plum tree.
I invite you to rewrite Batman Begins featuring a potted plant, and I think you'll find it an enjoyable screenplay. But that's not my point. My point is that I've just seen "Thank You for Smoking". Maria Bello, Rob Lowe, J.K. Simmons, Wm H. Macy, Robert Duvall, and (if only I were so lucky) a hanging fern.
When I first saw the trailers for this movie, I was in a cranky place (crankier than now, if that helps), and my thought was "pity so many of my favorite stars are in that, as I'll never see such a movie". Somewhere between points A and B, however, I changed my mind, and went out to see it. Quite an enjoyable movie. Yes, it's about defending the Tobacco Industry. Sort of. It is and it isn't. It's as much about that as, say, "Saved!" was about bringing people to Christ.
The movie has an excellent cast, and like many of my favorite films of late, the best moments are the bits in between lines - the bits where the actors are given a moment to absorb the momentum of the scene. Or, where they get a chance to mug for the camera. Perhaps this is the same thing.
As good as the cast was the writing - and it's gratifying to see good actors having fun with a good script. Macy is as blustery as ever, Lowe is goofy in a new and different way, and Eckhart ties it all together ties it together with a disarming charm - without which, the movie could easily be menacing and dark.
Good show, probably not something to bring the kids to. If you only see it on cable, you won't lose much.