Director: Jason Reitman
After having mastered the art of playing men we love to hate (Nurse Betty & In The Company of Men) with only a few turns as men we genuinely loved (Possession & Erin Brockovich), actor Aaron Eckhart has finally taken on the role of his career playing a man we hate to love—tobacco lobbyist Nick Naylor. Although ridiculously denied an Oscar nomination, Eckhart’s pitch-perfect turn as the spin-doctor spokesperson for the Academy of Tobacco Studies in the brilliantly funny satire Thank You For Smoking is one of the most surprising and impressive performances of 2006. Writer/director Jason Reitman’s sharp adaptation of Christopher Buckley’s novel added a much needed human side to Naylor by giving his character a twelve year old impressionable son named Joey, whose presence causes Naylor to have a crisis in conscience. In addition to answering to Joey, Naylor tries his best not to fall under the spell of sexy, young reporter Katie Holmes, get caught up in a web set by liberal senator William H. Macy, or lose his life to fanatics determined to remove him from the planet due to the intense death-rate caused by his employer, Big Tobacco. Seasoning the script with awe-inspiring one-liners and terrific pop-culture references as well as employing ingenious editing and cinematography tricks to add more humorously Kubrickian-styled contradictory layers to the tale, the film plays even better on a second or third viewing when more of Retiman’s intellect and Eckhart’s charisma can be fully absorbed. Featuring funny brief turns by Maria Bello, Adam Brody (who steals the entire sequence he’s in), Rob Lowe and Robert Duvall, Retiman shows great promise for films to come. Don’t miss it—a hit at Sundance and nominated for several independent film awards, I predict that like Mike Judge’s Office Space, Thank You For Smoking will grow an even-greater cult following on DVD.