Tuesday, May 30, 2006

 

Let Us Now Praise: Aaron Eckhart


Hollywood’s summertime blockbusters, whether ‘The Da Vinci Code’, ‘Over the Hedge’ or ‘X-Men: The Last Stand,’ continue to rack up gigantic box office with machinelike precision. It’s as if a new record is made every weekend.
The lone specialty film that qualifies as a break out hit is the hilarious political satire ‘Thank You for Smoking.’
Christopher Buckley’s comic novel has a joke for everyone and neophyte director Jason Reitman shows a knack for generating laughs equal to his filmmaker father, Ivan Reitman. But much of the credit for the film’s crossover success belongs to leading man Aaron Eckhart.
There’s no better character for a comedy than someone who talks for a living. Nick Naylor (Eckhart), lobbyist for the Academy of Tobacco Studies, faces his teenage son’s classmates and compares what he does to a movie star. The way he sees things, he and Brad Pitt both make their living performing in front of the public.
Naylor has a simple message for the kids, challenge authority. The qualifier is to make money while challenging the powers-that-be, in Naylor's case, protecting the interests of the tobacco companies.
Eckhart is the longtime muse of playwright/filmmaker Neil LaBute — ‘Your Friends & Neighbors,’ ‘Nurse Betty,’ ‘Possession’ and ‘In the Company of Men,’ as the womanizer Chad. But he puts his smarmy personality and blonde, prep school looks to comical use as the ruthless lobbyist.
Eckhart has worked on his share of Hollywood blockbusters, action thrillers ‘Paycheck,’ ‘The Core’ and dramas like ‘The Missing’ and ‘Erin Brockovich’ but more independent fare attracts his interest. Eckhart would be a welcome addition to any mainstream movie but he shines in films with an alternative edge, a film like ‘Thank You for Smoking.’
Spin control is seldom this funny and Eckhart is the most handsome chatterbox imaginable.

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