Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB. USA, 2005. Room 9 Entertainment, TYFS Productions LLC, ContentFilm, Major Studio Partners. Screenplay by Jason Reitman, based on the novel by Christopher Buckley. Cinematography by Jim Whitaker. Produced by David O. Sacks. Music by Rolfe Kent. Production Design by Steve Saklad. Costume Design by Danny Glicker. Film Editing by Dana E. Glauberman. Golden Globe Awards 2005. Independent Spirit Awards 2006. National Board of Review Awards 2006. Toronto International Film Festival 2005. Washington Film Critics Awards 2006.
Aaron Eckhart plays a lobbyist for Big Tobacco whose savvy ability to argue cigarettes to safe passage in a health-conscious America make him a national villain. He courts an ambitious reporter (Katie Holmes) whose idea of ‘off the record’ is skewed to say the least, wins over a cancer patient on the Joan Lunden show, has lunch with colleagues who represent the gun and alcohol industries (the latter played by the heavenly but underused Maria Bello), enjoying his morally irresponsible ride to the top of success until it starts to affect his impressionable son (Cameron Bright). Jason Reitman’s feature debut film has some really clever dialogue but is weakly directed; between the shoddy plotting and Eckhart’s anemic performance, all we’re left with are some memorable characterizations but nothing more. The film tries to convince you that it is showing all sides of an intense debate, but really it’s just rallying around them in an effort to avoid taking a stand of any kind.