It's hard enough to make a film where the audience is supposed to genuinely care for and support the actions of the characters. It's another thing entirely when the characters you choose to focus on are horrible people who do terrible things. Now trying making them funny and likable at the same time. Thank You For Smoking gets this balance just right. The scenes between the MOD Squad--Merchants Of Death--are funny. Aside from being the head lobbyists for tobacco, alcohol, and guns in America, the characters are fun. They act like people you want to be friends with. They crack jokes and share snacks at a restaurant. Their scenes wouldn't be out of place in a romantic comedy or family film if it wasn't for the fights over who kills the most people and the strategizing of how to come out on top against fetal alcohol syndrome.
We're laughing at the characters, yes, but we're also laughing with them and rooting for them in a strange way. They're charismatic in spite of what they're talking about. It's a combination of the right actors in the right parts, a sharp screenplay, and clever direction.