Photo: Dale Robinette
"Few people on this planet know what it is to be truly despised," says Nick Naylor by way of introduction. A spokesman for Big Tobacco, he's the antihero of newcomer Jason Reitman's keenly observed, stylishly filmed satire Thank You for Smoking, based on Christopher Buckley's novel of the same name. Played by an irrepressible Aaron Eckhart (In the Company of Men), Naylor is a spin machine with the requisite "flexible morals" to spend his days defending cigarettes and crusading for smokers' rights. In his downtime, he relaxes with his pals from the alcohol and gun lobbies, including David Koechner and Maria Bello, both deliciously slimy—but Naylor and his cronies are not the movie's only targets. Thank You also takes aim at Capitol Hill (in the form of William H. Macy's opportunistic suit-and-Birkenstock-wearing senator), Hollywood (Rob Lowe as a superagent in a kimono and The OC's Adam Brody as his sycophant assistant), and the media (Katie Holmes as a beguiling reporter). But for a couple of improbable plot twists, and one cliché (Reitman chooses to demonstrate Naylor's human side through his relationship with his young son), Reitman has created a terrific, biting comedy that retains its smirk until the bitter end.