Young Jason Reitman's direction and screenplay are deft and light. He is never heavy-handed, or worse, condescending (as may have happened more than once in WAG THE DOG). Based on a novel by Christopher Buckley (the son of William F. Buckley), the script is the star here. The double, triple, and sometimes quadruple entendres are spoken conversationally by a star-studded ensemble cast, who clearly revel in great material and great lines. Every reviewer opines that this will be Aaron Eckhart's break-out role. With his Dudley-Do-Right face and "that guy who always gets the girl----- on crack" charm and glibness, his Nick Naylor is the ultimate purveyor of the spin doctor's prescription: "the means justify the end".
The casting director should be congratulated in the same breath as the director. Rob Lowe as the "genius" behind Hollywood "EGO", a consultant firm which helps raise financing for movies with strategic product placement, is note-perfect in a "small role". With William H. Macy, the Vermont Senator who takes on the tobacco industry, Maria Bello, a fellow Merchant of Death lobbyist, and Robert Duvall, the "Captain" of this particular industry--- the cast is jaw-dropping, and sublimely funny. Katie Holmes, pre-TomKat, is gorgeous, seductive, and completely believable as the reporter who stops at nothing to get her story.
Nick Naylor's relationship with his son is the lens which focuses Nick on his own behavior. Even that relationship is not treated as a cliché, or completely reverently by the satirist, who remains true to the last frame to the goal of letting the air out of our self-righteousness. It is a breath of fresh air. I not only recommend it, I intend to see it again.