You for Smoking
Directed by: JASON REITMAN
Starring: AARON ECKHART, KATIE HOLMES,
SAM ELLIOTT, ROB LOWE, WILLIAM H. MACY, ROBERT DUVALL
Released by: Fox Searchlight
Short: Aaron Eckhart's performance is addictive
as a tobacco industry hack in this smoldering
Comedy, But Not a Puff Piece
paraphrase the song that just won the Oscar, it’s
hard out there for a lobbyist, especially if you’re
pimping a product that kills 1,200 people every day. It’s
hard, that is, unless you’re good, and Nick Naylor
is one of the best.
by Aaron Eckhart, Nick may be smug and smarmy, but he’s
also got a charm and schoolboy innocence that make him
impossible to hate. Most of all, he knows what some of
us never learn: that you don’t have to be right
to win a point; you just have to make people doubt what
the other guy says.
You for Smoking" is based on the novel by Christopher
Buckley, and both versions of this story are about the
high-wire tension of knowing that what you’re doing
is instinctively, viscerally wrong and loving it anyway.
Here's Nick going to the Tobacco Club in Winston-Salem
to meet the grand old man of the tobacco business (Robert
Duvall). There he’s meeting with a Hollywood super-agent
(Rob Lowe) to plant cigarettes in movies. He combats a
do-gooder senator (William H. Macy), seduces a seductress
reporter (Katie Holmes) and takes a briefcase full of
cash to the Marlboro Man (Sam Elliott) who’s dying
of smoking-related illnesses. But it’s not a bribe.
the film is bright and snappy, it never lets us forget
the macabre either: Nick regularly gets together with
his pals in the "MOD Squad," lobbyists for the
alcoholic beverage and firearms industries (MOD stands
for “merchants of death”), and his 12-year-old
son attends St. Euthanasius school.
there’s the real rub. Washington may intone "What
about our children?" ad infinitum, but this story
makes it personal. In this world where morality can be
bought and sold, what does Nick teach this astute young
man who’s just beginning to make decisions for himself?
could tell you, but then we’d have to kill you.