Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Thank You For Smoking

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:

"The mortgage."

If only Hannity would be so genuine...


Rebecca said...

I thought this was a great movie! :)

The Film Geek said...

I agree, Rebeccah. And a terrific parady of the sad state of political lobbying today.

jedi jawa said...

It followed the book pretty well and did a good job of focusing on the nastiness of spin without so much lambasting the message (though I have no love for tobacco). Eckhart was perfect as Naylor too!

I'd highly recommend Christopher Buckley's other satire books. Particularly "God is My Broker".

Stanton said...

This is next in my netflix queue. I can't wait.

Kelly said...

"If only Hannity would be so genuine..."

Er...didn't you mean to say, "If only Carville would be so genuine..."

The Film Geek said...

Jedi: I'll check that book out, thanks for the tip!

STanton: Please let me know what you think after you see it. (By the way, ordered an "All-American Dog at G.D. Ritzey's last night, and it was a freakin' plain weiner on a bun. WTF?)

Kelly: Nope. I said what I meant. Of all the spinsters, to me Hannity is the least truthful and most insincere.

On his show immediately after the first Bush/Kerry debate (which, even most of the more strident Bush supporters will agree, Bush got a butt-whippin')Hannity proclaimed Bush the debate winner hands-down, and that it was the "most passionate: he had ever seen the Prez.

Lapdog, pure and simple.

Ian C. said...

Man, I loved this movie. This is the best thing Aaron Eckhart's ever done. Rob Lowe was hilarious. Loved Robert Duvall and Sam Elliott, too. And the kid, Cameron Bright, doesn't act like a wide-eyed zombie, as he has in most every other film I've seen him in.

Katie Holmes, as usual, is miscast, however.