Plot: Tobacco industry lobbyist Nick Naylor has a seemingly impossible task: promoting cigarette smoking in a time when the health hazards of the activity have become too plain to ignore. Nick, however, revels in his job, using argument and twisted logic to place, as often as not, his clients in the positions of either altruistic do-gooders or victims. Nick's son Joey needs to understand and respect his dad's philosophy, and Nick works hard to respond to that need without compromising his lack of values. When a beautiful news reporter betrays Nick's sexually-achieved trust, his world seems in danger of collapsing. But there's always one more coffin nail in Nick's pack.
Matt's Rating: B+
Why Matt's Appalled Nicole has never seen it: I'm a big fan of director Jason Reitman and actor Aaron Eckhart. Reitman, who also did Juno, takes very serious and usually depressing content and makes it hilarious. And since I know how much Nicole loves fucked up stuff I figured she would love a movie that makes light of what cigarette companies do. Now, of course, it's all in good fun and the movie is actually a satire but this is what makes the film so fun. It pokes fun at the absurdities behind our vices. What really turned me on to this film were two distinct factors. First, it has a heart. Ultimately the film is about a man trying to connect to his son. Second, the theme. In the end, no matter how crude what we do for a living may seem, as long as you "can pay the mortgage" your moral compass can stray a little. That's just an interesting concept to me. Because at first it seems fucked up. It's essentially saying, "you can do really screwed up shit for a living, but as long as it allows you to financially survive, you get a free pass" Which is a typical neo-American notion. And Eckharts character wholeheartedly believes this. But there's an inherent problem with that mindset, and it's simple: you're not doing what's right. This is best seen in the scene where Nick is explaining to his son what he does for a living. He explains to his son that it's as if he is trying to sell chocolate ice cream to people that love vanilla. He never actually has to prove that Chocolate is better, as long as he can make vanilla seem bad. His son seems complacent with this, but as Nick's journey goes on, we find that as his moral compass has strayed, so has his life. And thus, we get the big picture.
The comedic acting here is tremendous. I think Eckhart is great, he has the natural charisma that is needed for the role and his timing is perfect. Rob Lowe's small role is just quarky enough to make you giggle. J.K. Simmons is HILARIOUS, as always. And William H. Macy is great. Plus, Nick's little trio of death meetings just get funnier and funnier as the movie rolls on. The writing is also very witty and funny. It reminded me of a goofy Aaron Sorkin film. I also like how the film was structured, the little jump cut scenes, the random subtitles.
My only complaint would be that the film drags in parts, in particular during any Robert Duvall scene. Those scenes slow the entire pace of the movie down. But in the end, its a really fun, thought provoking, and entertaining movie.
Nicole's Rating: B
Nicole's Review: Geezus, Matt. He wrote so much, I'm not even sure why I'm doing a review. I guess - this is one of the movies on my list that I've actually avoided. I guess I wasn't paying attention at all when it came out because I always thought this was a documentary by that fat, obnoxious guy who is always making obnoxious documentarys about things you should care about but then end up being on the opposite and wrong side for just because of how annoying he is. I forget his name. I could Google it, but there's a chance his face would come up and I'm not prepared for that right now.
Anyway - back to the movie. I liked it. I thought it was funny and thought provoking. I loved the entire cast, save Katie Holmes and her robot sex face. What is with that face? Seriously! And then, after that - I agree with everything Matt said above. Some scenes dragged and the movie went on for a little longer than it should have. There was a point where I checked the time and was surprised that I was still sitting there watching the movie - not the best sign. Still, it was good and I'm glad I watched it.
Also, Maria Bello is so freaking hot.