"Anyone who smokes in a movie is either a psychopath or a European," according to Nick Naylor. As the chief spokesman for a big tobacco corporation, he is arguably the former, but Jason Reitman's ingenious satire casts Naylor - played with great panache by Aaron Eckhart - as the hero. This is a story of spin, of Naylor's witty attempts to justify the indefensible products of his bosses while playng the fatherly role model to his 12-year-old son (Cameron Bright).
In the course of a short, tightly scripted movie, Nick cuts a product placement deal with a Hollywood studio, bribes the original Marlboro Man to keep his mouth shut about lung cancer and bullies schoolchildren into ignoring health advice. "Is your mommy a doctor?" he asks a bewildered pre-teen. "No? Well, she's hardly a credible expert then, is she?" Then, after a hard day, Nick likes to relax with his friends, the spokespeople for the alcohol and firearm industries. They call themselves the Merchants of Death.
"GREAT COMIC TURNS"
He is, in other words, a nasty piece of work. But such is the cynical snap of Reitman's script that you find yourself rooting for Nick, wanting him to connect with his kid and escape the clutches of Katie Holmes' heartless reporter. In terms of story, Thank You... is pretty familiar territory, encompassing a kidnapping and a Supreme Court showdown. But as a clear-eyed dissection of the dirty business of public relations, where "if you argue correctly, you're never wrong", it is pretty much peerless. Great comic turns too, from Rob Lowe as a serene Hollywood exec and William H Macy as Naylor's senatorial nemesis.