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Bush-era spin doctoring with a tobacco twist! Aaron Eckhart plays a slick tobacco lobbyist who tries to promote a world where people are free to make their own decisions, notably by continuing to make smoking cigarettes a viable option despite public health concerns. The story is clever, free of much fat, and mostly fun. We get enjoyable appearances by Rob Lowe as an eccentric film industry impresario, Adam Brody as his tech-bro assistant, Katie Holmes as an opportunistic journalist, and much more. Perhaps my favorite small roll is played by Robert Duvall, because he’s ROBERT DUVALL, and he can do almost no wrong in my eyes.

The one problem I see with this film is not that Eckhart’s character is an anti-hero of questionable likeability; we’ve seen this before many times, and to much darker degrees. My feeling, though, is that there is a morality claim being made in this film, one that isn’t pro smoking or pro spin, but also isn’t in favor of the righteously moralistic indignation we get from people like Vermont Senator Finistirre, played by William H. Macy. But what that morality is, however, is dubious. That we should think for ourselves? That we ought to remain loyal to the important people in our lives despite their faults? No, none of this seems right. And naturally this film is good enough that it should be more complicated than the moral of a fable. That being said, something doesn’t sit right with me about whatever it is trying to say, and that the film has an argument, I am sure.

Entertaining film, though, and doesn’t seem to have received as much attention as it deserves. Please don’t smoke, however.

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