Screened as part of NZIFF 2006
This gleefully cynical satire blows the whistle on ‘untruthiness’, the black art of the 21st-century spin-doctor. Tall, blonde, handsome and pulsing with malevolent wit, Aaron Eckhart was born to play Nick Naylor, fast-talking Washington lobbyist and public affairs frontman for Big Tobacco. Teen smoking has taken a dive, but Nick’s determined to fight back. He loves his work, proudly comparing trophies with fellow ‘merchants of death’ – lobbyists for the liquor and firearms industries. First-time director Jason Reitman surrounds them with a superbly funny array of fancy sleazeballs (notably Rob Lowe as a Hollywood star maker touched by zen) and morally impoverished power brokers. The great cast also includes William H. Macy as an anti-smoking Massachusetts senator (so pious you want to light up) and Robert Duvall as a Southern tobacco tycoon. Katie Holmes does not hold back as a dedicated investigative journalist.
“First-time director Jason Reitman pulls off the miraculous feat of creating a single-issue comedy that retains its freshness and drive throughout... A bristling, wickedly smart portrait... Like most of us, Reitman (and novelist Christopher Buckley, on whose novel the film is based) has obviously wondered how someone could keep a straight face (and conscience) while actively propagandising for the morally indefensible. But instead of just shaking his head in bemused disbelief, he has constructed a hilarious, fast-moving Swiftian satire that skewers all in its path.” — Peter Brunette, Screendaily
“You’ll have to stretch back to 1997’s ultracynical Wag the Dog to find a sociopolitical satire as vituperative and downright exhilarating.” — Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out