Dir: Jason Reitman, 2005, USA (92 mins)
Aaron Eckhart, Katie Holmes, Rob Lowe
As a lobbyist for Big Tobacco, Nick Naylor (Eckhart) is at the top of his game, with seemingly no argument he cannot charm his way out of. Socialising with fellow members of the Merchants of Death tri-force (alcohol and gun control), Naylor’s loose approach to ethical matters doesn’t deter his desire to provide guidance in the way of the world for his young son. Only the advances of an ambitious reporter (Holmes) threaten his towering sense of self-satisfaction.
The script, adapted from the Christopher Buckley novel, is snappy dialogue heaven, something that reaches its zenith when Nick arrives in Hollywood to make smoking cool again. As satire, the film’s targets are broad and everyone seems to be having too much fun to really spike them. But having defined its own moral universe, it satisfyingly swerves away from redeeming characters with false revelations, and Eckhart’s performance as the ‘yuppie Mephistopheles’ is terrific. Kate Taylor