Nick Naylor, the lead character of Thank You For Smoking is the reason I walked away from an obsessive interest in politics and social commentary a couple of years ago. Well, not Nick Naylor literally, of course; the embodiment of Naylor, though. Spin doctors who look you in the eye, tell you their version of the truth then cash a huge paycheck earned for the perspective they've created.
Real-life folks like Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly, James Carville and Paul Begala. Professional mercenaries who pretend they aren't.
Spin masters are toxic. Regardless of ideology, they're toxic. Every damn one.
Aaron Eckhart's Naylor is a lobbyist for Big Tobacco. He's become quite jaded, and pretty transparent in his efforts to win each point of debate. Confront him on a TV talk show with a teen dying from cancer associated with second-hand smoke, and Naylor will remind the audience that tobacco companies gain nothing by the child's death. In fact, it's a loss of a future consumer.
Spin, baby. Spin.
Naylor can't spin his life, though. His marriage has failed, and his son is growing up too fast. Naylor spends a lot of time teaching the kid spin ninja skills, hoping that one day, Li'l Joey Naylor will earn big bucks for his lobbying efforts, too. Naylor's choice in chicks is pretty suspect: He falls for teen-looking tomboy Katie Holmes who, ultimately, spins the most significant spin of all.
I liked this movie a lot. The acting was above par, the story line was interesting and the pacing was perfect. My favorite part, though, was the ultimate answer Naylor and other spinsters revealed as the reason they were willing to lie for profit:
If only Hannity would be so genuine...