REVIEW: WOMAN IN GOLD

 

CAST

Helen Mirren (Red)
Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool)
Daniel Bruhl (Captain Ameirca: Civil War)
Katie Holmes (Batman Begins)
Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black)
Max Irons (The Host)
Charles Dance (Game of Thrones)
Antje Traue (Man of Steel)
Elizabeth McGovern (Kick-Ass)
Jonathan Pryce (Brazil)

In a series of flashbacks throughout the film, Maria Altmann recalls the arrival of Nazi forces in Vienna, and the subsequent suppression of the Jewish community and the looting and pillaging conducted by the Nazis against Jewish families. Seeking to escape before the country is completely shut off, Maria Altmann and members of her family attempt to flee to the United States. While Altmann and her husband are successful in their escape, she is forced to abandon her parents in Vienna. In the present, living in Los Angeles, a now elderly and widowed Altmann attends the funeral for her sister. She discovers letters in her sister’s possession dating to the late 1940s, which reveal an attempt to recover artwork owned by the Altmann family that was left behind during the family’s flight for freedom and subsequently stolen by the Nazis. Of particular note is a painting of Altmann’s aunt, Adele Bloch-Bauer, now known in Austria as the “Woman in Gold”.Altmann enlists the help of E. Randol Schoenberg (the son of her close friend, Barbara), a lawyer with little experience, to make a claim to the art restitution board in Austria. Reluctantly returning to her homeland, Altmann discovers that the country’s minister and art director are unwilling to part with the painting, which they feel has become part of the national identity. Altmann is told that the painting was in fact legitimately willed to the gallery by her aunt. Upon further investigation by her lawyer and Austrian journalist Hubertus Czernin, this claim proves to be incorrect, as the alleged will is invalid due to the fact that her aunt did not own the painting in question, the artist’s fee having been paid by Altmann’s uncle; moreover, Adele Bloch-Bauer wanted the painting to go to the museum at her husband’s death while in fact it was taken from him by the Nazis and placed in the museum by a Nazi-collaborating curator. Schoenberg files a challenge with the art restitution board, but it is denied and Altmann does not have the money needed to challenge the ruling. Defeated, she and Schoenberg return to the United States.Months thereafter, happening upon an art book with “Woman in Gold” on the cover, Schoenberg has an epiphany. Using a narrow rule of law and precedents in which an art restitution law was retroactively applied, Schoenberg files a claim in US court against the Austrian government contesting their claim to the painting. An appeal goes to the Supreme Court of the United States, where in the matter of Republic of Austria v. Altmann, the court rules in Altmann’s favor, which results in the Austrian government attempting to persuade Altmann to retain the painting for the gallery, which she refuses. After a falling out over the issue of returning to Austria for a second time to argue the case, Altmann agrees for Schoenberg to go and argue the case in front of an arbitration panel of three arbiters in Vienna.In Austria, the arbitration panel hears the case, during which time they are reminded of the Nazi regime’s war crimes by Schoenberg. Schoenberg implores the arbitration panel to think of the meaning of the word “restitution” and to look past the artwork hanging in art galleries to see the injustice to the families who once owned such great paintings and were forcibly separated from them by the Nazis. Unexpectedly, Altmann arrives during the session indicating to Czernin that she came to support her lawyer. After considering both sides of the dispute, the arbitration panel rules in favour of Altmann, returning her paintings. The Austrian government representative makes a last minute proposal begging Altmann to keep the paintings in the Belvedere against a generous compensation. Altmann refuses and elects to have the painting moved to the United States with her (“They will now travel to America like I once had to as well”), and takes up an offer made earlier by Ronald Lauder to acquire them for his New York gallery to display the painting on condition that it be a permanent exhibit.Such a great movie,  the acting is superb and the content, because it deals with real events in a tasteful and honest way.

 

 

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REVIEW: THE GIVER

 

CAST

Jeff Bridges (Iron Man)
Meryl Streep (Into The Woods)
Brenton Thwaites (Maleficent)
Alexander Skarsgard (The Legend of Tarzan)
Katie Holmes (Batman Begins)
Odeya Rush (Goosebumps)
Cameron Monaghan (Gotham)
Taylor Swift (Valentine’s Day)
Emma Tremblay (Elysium)

Following a calamity referred to as The Ruin, society is reorganized into a series of communities, and all memories of the past are held by one person, the Receiver of Memory. Since the Receiver of Memory is the only individual in the community who has the memories from before, he must advise the Chief Elder, and the other Elders, on the decisions for the community.  Jonas (Brenton Thwaites) is a 16-year-old boy who is anxious about the career he will be assigned (along with everyone else). His two best friends are Asher (Cameron Monaghan) and Fiona (Odeya Rush).On the day of graduation, everyone is assigned a career. Jonas is briefly skipped, as he has not been assigned a career. Instead, Jonas is to become the next Receiver of Memory, and progressively receive memories from the past receiver, The Giver (Jeff Bridges). Upon assuming his role as The Receiver, Jonas learns of the Giver’s past and of his child, Rosemary (Taylor Swift), who preceded Jonas as Receiver of Memory. She was so distraught from the memories that she committed suicide, by what the Community calls “Releasing”. They regard its nature as mysterious; the audience learns that it is death by lethal injection. Jonas begins to teach his findings to his friend Fiona, with whom he decides to share the idea of emotions. Fiona, who is unable to fully comprehend the idea of emotion, is unsure how she feels. Jonas then kisses Fiona, an action which is antiquated and unknown to the community, which Jonas gained through memory.Jonas also shares his memories with the baby his father brought home to their house, Gabriel, and develops a close relationship with him after discovering he shares the same mark on his wrist Jonas does, the mark of a potential Receiver of Memory. Jonas decides that everyone should have the memories of the past and eventually, The Giver and Jonas decide that the only way they can help the community is to go past the border of what they call Elsewhere, beyond the community, therefore releasing the memories back into the community. Jonas sneaks out at curfew, and decides to get Gabe at the Nurturing Center, who is to be released due to his general weakness. Asher, his other longtime friend besides Fiona, tries to stop him before he leaves the neighborhood, but Jonas quickly punches him. Asher lies on the ground, stunned, and Jonas rides his bike to the Nurturing Center. He tells Fiona his plan and wants to take her with him, but she refuses and instead helps him retrieve Gabe. Before he leaves, she kisses him and helps him escape.Meanwhile, Jonas’ mother (Katie Holmes) and Asher go to the Chief Elder (Meryl Streep) to tell them Jonas is missing. Guards are sent to contain Jonas, who they say has become “dangerous”, but Jonas gets one of their motorcycles and drives off the cliff near The Giver’s dwelling into “Elsewhere”. Asher is assigned, by the Chief Elder, to use a drone to find Jonas and “lose” (kill) him, but when Asher finds Jonas stumbling through the desert, he instead captures him with the drone. After Jonas implores Asher to think that, if he ever cared for Jonas, he would let him go, Asher drops him into a river, setting him free. Jonas stumbles through the land of Elsewhere, while Fiona has been condemned to be “released” for helping him. Just as she is about to be lethally injected by Jonas’ father (Alexander Skarsgård), The Giver steps in and stalls the Chief Elder with memories of his daughter, Rosemary, trying to call out the Chief Elder, but is unsuccessful. Eventually, Jonas finds a sled like one he rode in a memory from The Giver and makes his way beyond the border of Elsewhere, releasing memories and color back into the community and saving Fiona because Jonas’ father realizes what he was really doing. As this happens Jonas’ mother sheds a single tear finally understanding the feeling of love. Jonas and Gabe return to the house of his memories, where people are singing Christmas carols, and his voiceover says that, back in the community, he swears he hears music, too, or possibly just an echo.Based on a novel written by Lois Lowry published in 1993 this ambitious, thought-provoking dystopian SF film is an intriguing exploration of totalitarianism set in an apparent post-apocalyptic world where society has been reorganised into a series of peaceful self-contained isolated communities. Brenton Thwaites certainly gives an assured performance as the protagonist and there are sound, restrained supporting performances from Meryl Streep, Jeff Bridges, Alexander Skarsgard and Katie Holmes. The cinematography is interesting and the limited use of CGI ensures that there is no distraction from the kernel of the movie. I liked it.

REVIEW: JACK AND JILL

CAST

Adam Sandler (Big Daddy)
Katie Holmes (Batman Begins)
Al Pacino (The Devil’s Advocate)
David Spade (8 Simple Rules)
Nick Swardson (Just Go With it)
Tim Meadows (Son of Zorn)
Allen Covert (Anger Management)
Norm MacDonald (Dr. Dolittle)
Geoff Pierson (That 80s Show)
Dana Carvey (Wayne’s world)
Billy Blanks (Kiss The Girls)
Johnny Depp (Secret Window)

The film opens with homemade videos of fraternal twins Jack and Jill Sadelstein growing up in New York City. As the videos progress, they reveal Jack as the gifted twin, while Jill constantly tries—and fails miserably—to get his attention by injuring him and/or driving others away from him.

In present day Los Angeles, Jack (Adam Sandler) is a successful advertising executive who lives with his beautiful wife Erin (Katie Holmes) and their two kids: Sofie (Elodie Tougne); Gary (Rohan Chand), a Hindu child they adopted at birth. Jill (also played by Sandler) never left the working-class neighborhood they grew up in; she recently inherited the Sadelstein home, having lived with their mother until her death one year ago. As always, Jack is irritated by the upcoming Thanksgiving visit of his sister. Jill ruins Thanksgiving dinner by loudly embarrassing a homeless guest. Jack finally calls her out for making a fool of herself, of him, and of everybody else at the table. Stung, Jill runs off into the woods with her pet cockatoo Poopsie. Erin demands that Jack apologize to his sister, which he very unwillingly does. Jill has a list of things she wants to do while in Los Angeles: be on a game show (The Price is Right, which—despite her horrendous performance—gives Jill a carload of prizes simply to be rid of her); go horseback riding (she proves too big and heavy for the pony, which collapses under her); and do a studio tour. Since Jill has an open-ended plane ticket, she decides to stay until the end of Hanukkah – much to Jack’s horror.

Jack’s agency client, meanwhile, wants him to somehow get actor Al Pacino to appear in a Dunkin’ Donuts commercial. Jack isn’t sure how he’s supposed to make that happen. Jill tries online dating. She has no success until Jack poses as Jill and alters her profile, leading to more than 100 responses. Yet when Jill’s date – “Funbucket” (Norm Macdonald) – meets her, he sneaks out of the restaurant through the men’s room.

Jack takes Jill to a Lakers game where Pacino is supposed to be. Pacino blows off Jack but is taken with Jill and gives her his phone number. Jack was hoping Jill would go back home by New Year’s Eve, since the family is going on a cruise. Jack’s friends and colleagues throw him a birthday party, extending the invite to Jill. Again Jill loudly disgraces herself, Jack, and the various celebrities in attendance. Pacino invites Jill to his home, where she accidentally destroys his Oscar statuette. Abruptly, she becomes bored with him and leaves. Jack’s Mexican gardener Felipe (Eugenio Derbez), who is also taken with Jill, invites her to meet his family at their annual fiesta. There she hits it off with everybody, and tries Mexican food for the first time, thus acquiring a horrible case of diarrhea which makes her even tougher to live with than usual.

Pacino refuses to do the Dunkin’ Doughnuts commercial unless Jack gets him a date with Jill; to that end, Jack invites Jill on the cruise with his family. At sea, while Jill continues making a fool of herself and everyone around her, Jack disguises himself as his own sister and goes on her date with Pacino. Jill suspects that Jack invited her on the cruise just so Pacino would do the commercial; such is confirmed when she phones Jack, he answers as Jill, and then she hears Pacino in the background. Pacino, still believing Jack to be Jill, spells out that he (Pacino) sees much more in her than just a pathetic half-wit…which is what Jack always took her for. Feeling unspeakably guilty, Jack returns to the ship, only to learn that Jill has gone back home to The Bronx. At a restaurant on New Year’s Eve, toting a picture of her and Jack’s late mother, Jill comes across a group of former classmates who always made fun of her; these classmates, led by Monica (David Spade), pick up directly where they left off…until Jack, his wife and their kids show up. Jack and Jill converse in their made-up twin language (which even Jack finds incomprehensible). Monica attacks Erin and is cold cocked by Jill. Pacino also turns up at the party, dressed as the Man of La Mancha, and tells Jill that while he may have feelings for her, there is another man more worthy of her than himself. She then goes home, where Felipe (the other suitor Pacino was referring to) and his children await her arrival. Felipe professes his love for Jill, and the two begin a relationship.

The television commercial is made, with Pacino starring and singing as he promotes a new coffee—”Dunkaccino”—with a rap song. But when Jack shows it to him, Pacino hates it and tells him to destroy every copy of this film.I don’t think it is a film you can’t love straight away unless you love Adam Sandler. It’s a Fairly good storyline, but as ever with the actors involved it would be more focused on the comedy rather than acting side of things, although Sandler plays two good and funny characters who are completely different. A good laugh over all.

REVIEW: HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER – THE SLUTTY PUMPKIN RETURNS

Image result for how i met your mother logo

MAIN CAST

Josh Radnor (Mercy Street)
Jason Segel (The Muppets)
Cobie Smulders (Agents of SHIELD)
Neil Patrick Harris (Starship Troopers)
Alyson Hannigan (Date Movie)
Bob Saget (Full House)

GUEST CAST

Katie Holmes (Batman Begins)
Christina Pickles (Legends of The Fall)
Lyndsy Fonseca (Agent Carter)
David Henrie (Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2)

Future Ted reminds his kids that ten years earlier he met the Slutty Pumpkin, a girl in a provocative pumpkin costume who appeared to be very compatible with him, during the rooftop Halloween party. However, he lost the Kit Kat on which she had written her number and waited each year in vain for her to appear again.

In October 2011, Ted sees the slutty pumpkin costume in the window of a shop, where the owner willingly divulges, from his records, the identity of the woman who rented it in 2001. Ted meets Naomi, the girl who wore the costume; she has also been searching for him, and they start dating. Ted immediately realizes they have no chemistry and that he has no feelings for her, but he can’t bring himself to end the relationship so quickly after finally finding her. When Ted decides that he needs to break up with Naomi, he’s stunned to see her wear the slutty pumpkin costume; he says that he loves her and they have sex. They arrive at the Halloween party on the roof wearing the costumes they wore when they first met. After Naomi consumes a Tootsie Roll cocktail, she confesses that she found their relationship as awkward as Ted did, but felt similarly resistant to ending it (though Ted does not reveal to her how he felt). They break up amicably.

Meanwhile, Lily’s judgement is impaired by the fact that she has “pregnancy brain”, and impulsively decides she wants to live in the suburbs after she and Marshall are given her grandparents’ house. Though Marshall wants to live in the suburbs, he does not want to take advantage of Lily’s state of mind. Under the pretense of arranging for a real-estate broker to assess the house, Lily tries to trick Marshall into giving in due to the wholesomeness of the trick-or-treaters who soon arrive. However, when Lily realizes how her pregnancy brain has affected her ability to make decisions, she agrees to wait until she can think clearly before she and Marshall decide whether they want to move away from the city.

In the meantime, Robin learns from Barney’s father Jerome Whittaker through Facebook that Barney’s paternal grandmother was born in Manitoba, thus making Barney one-quarter Canadian. Barney is horrified and Robin teases him as revenge for all the mockery she endured from him over the years. She agrees to stop if Barney wears a Mountie costume for the Halloween party on the roof, but Barney resists and winds up wearing an American-themed boxing outfit instead. Robin points out that Barney is not uncomfortable on the cold rooftop in his shirtless costume, due to his Canadian ancestry. When he returns home later, a fantasy sequence ensues in which his Canadian side manifests physically and Barney futilely tries to beat him up; the Canadian version of Barney is unfailingly polite, friendly – and unharmed – throughout the attack.

Katie Holmes performance makes this episode a highlight. and seeing Ted finally get to see the Slutty Pumpkin was awesome. a Worthy sequel to The Slutty Pumpkin of Season 1.

REVIEW: MUPPETS FROM SPACE

CAST

Dave Goelz (Inside Out)
Steve Whitmore (The Dark Crystal)
Bill Barretta (Muppets Most Wanted)
Jerry Nelson (Sesame Street)
Brian Henson (Tinseltown)
Kevin Clash (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Frank Oz (Star Wars – Episode V)
Jeffrey Tambor (Arrested Development)
F. Murray Abraham (Amadeus)
Rob Schneider (The Hot Chick)
Josh Charles (The Good Wife)
Ray Liotta (Killing Them Softly)
David Arquette (Eight Legged Freaks)
Andie MacDowwell (Groundhog Day)
Kathy Griffin (Hall Pass)
Pat Hingle (Batman 1989)
Hulk Hogan (The Ultimate Weapon)
Gary Owens (Roger Ramjet)
Katie Holmes (Batman Begins)
Joshua Jackson (Cruel Intentions)

The Great Gonzo has always been identified as a “whatever”; but, after having disturbing dreams of abandonment and rejection, he begins to realize just how alone he is in the world. One of his nightmares involves his being denied entry onto Noah’s Ark by Noah. The next morning, Gonzo tells Kermit the Frog that he is getting tired of being called a “whatever.” After an alien race appears to be trying to send him a message through bowls of cereal, Gonzo realizes that he may not be so alone after all and climbs to the rooftop to start watching the sky. Using a bolt of lightning, Gonzo communicates with a pair of cosmic fish, revealing to him that he is an alien from outer space.

Unable to convince Kermit and his friends of the aliens’ existence, Gonzo is lured into the clutches of K. Edgar Singer of C.O.V.N.E.T., a government organization disguised as a cement factory. Singer has also taken note of the aliens’ attempts to communicate and thinks that Gonzo is his key to convincing his superiors that aliens do in fact exist. Gonzo and Rizzo the Rat are arrested by C.O.V.N.E.T. Agents and Agent Rentro. Rizzo’s antics cause himself to be flushed down a tube by the Man in Black. Rizzo ends up having to go through C.O.V.N.E.T.’s rat training and medical research held by Dr. Tucker, alongside the other rats like Bubba the Rat, Shakes the Rat, Fast Eddie, Troy, and The Bird Man. After Miss Piggy interrogated Agent Baker, she, Kermit, Fozzie Bear, Pepe the King Prawn, and Animal spring into action to rescue Gonzo and Rizzo from C.O.V.N.E.T., using such inventions as a door in a jar, a rubber duck that sprays invisibility spray, and mind control gas from Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker, which Miss Piggy uses on a gate guard).

A talking sandwich asks Gonzo where the alien ship can land, and Gonzo suggests Cape Doom (a beach), unaware that Agent Rentro is listening. At the military base, the gang arrives to rescue Gonzo and Rizzo. While on their rescue, everyone uses invisible spray but eventually becomes visible when Fozzie washes his hands upon exiting the restroom as Animal is unleashed upon a female guard. Rizzo frees Gonzo from the dissection table while the rats attack Dr. Phil Van Neuter, where Singer and General Luft witness the attack. General Luft leaves declaring that Singer “needs help.” When Singer hears of Gonzo’s escape, he has Agent Rentro prepare the Subatomic Neutro-Destabilizer to use on the aliens and heads to his car. When Agent Rentro tells him that the car is impounded due to the parking tickets that Agent Rentro forgot to take care of, Singer and Agent Rentro end up taking the company car which happens to be a cement truck.

The Muppets go to Cape Doom after rescuing Gonzo and, along with a crowd of alien-happy spectators, await their arrival. The ship comes to Earth and the aliens, who all resemble Gonzo, explain that many years ago they lost him but welcome him back into the fold. Singer shows up and tries to kill the Aliens, but thanks to Agent Rentro (who has disabled his Subatomic Neutro-Destabilizer by taking the part that fires the weapon), he cannot and is laughed at. Gonzo considers going into space with his long-lost family, but chooses not to. While grateful for his family for going through the trouble of locating and visiting him on Earth, he decides not to go with them, as he wants to stay with his fellow Muppet Show castmates. Singer is invited by the aliens to go with them, and leaves as Earth’s ambassador.

As the Muppets watching the stars on the roof, Gonzo tells Kermit he wonders why his family asked him to build a Jacuzzi. Pepe chuckles because he and Rizzo had pretended to be them and asked him to do it.

With “Muppets From Space”! I liked the story and thought Jeffrey Tambor was a hoot as the likeable villain. The other human cameos were hilarious, too. A great Muppet Movie

REVIEW: PHONE BOOTH

CAST
Colin Farrell (Minority Report)
Kiefer Sutherland (Pompeii)
Forest Whitaker (Panic Room)
Radha Mitchell (Pitch Black)
Katie Holmes (Batman Begins)
Richard T. Jones (Terminator: TSCC)
Ben Foster (The Punisher)
Stu Shepard (Colin Farrell) is an arrogant New York City publicist who has been courting a woman named Pam (Katie Holmes) behind his wife Kelly (Radha Mitchell). He uses the last remaining public phone booth in the city to contact Pam. During the call, he is interrupted by a pizza delivery man, who attempts to deliver a free pizza to him, but Stu rudely turns him away by insulting his weight. As soon as Stu completes his call to Pam, the phone rings. Stu answers, to find that The Caller, who knows his name, warns him not to leave the booth, and says he will say hello to Pam for him. He also says he will call Kelly, leaving Stu panicked.
The caller tells Stu that he has tested two previous individuals who have done wrong deeds in a similar manner (one was a pedophile, the other was a company insider who cashed out his stock options before the share price collapsed), giving each a chance to reveal the truth to those they wronged, but in both cases, neither agreed and were killed. To demonstrate the threat, the caller fires a suppressed sniper rifle at a toy robot sold by a nearby vendor; the damage is unseen by anyone but Stu, the caller, and the vendor. The caller demands that Stu confess his feelings for Pam to both Kelly and Pam to avoid being killed. The caller contacts Pam, and puts her on line with Stu, who reveals that he is married. The caller then hangs up, telling Stu to call Kelly himself.
As Stu hesitates, the booth is approached by three prostitutes demanding to use the phone. Stu refuses to leave, having been warned by the caller to stay in the booth and not reveal the situation. Leon (John Enos III), the prostitutes’ pimp, joins his charges, smashes the side of the booth, grabs at Stu in a headlock and starts punching him. The caller offers to “make him stop” and asks if Stu can hear him, which Stu just answers positively, causing the caller to misunderstand Stu and shoot Leon. Leon staggers away before collapsing dead in the street. The prostitutes immediately blame Stu, making a scene over Leon’s body, accusing him of having a gun as the police and news crews converge on the location.
Police Captain Ed Ramey (Forest Whitaker), already suspecting Stu of being the killer, seals off the streets with police roadblocks and starts trying to negotiate to get him to leave the booth, but Stu refuses, telling the caller that there is no way they can incriminate him; the caller proves him wrong, calling his attention to a handgun that was planted in the roof of the phone booth. Both Kelly and Pam soon arrive on the scene. The caller demands that Stu tell Kelly the truth, which he does. The caller then orders Stu to choose between Kelly and Pam, and the woman he does not choose will be killed. While on the phone with the caller, Stu secretly uses his cell phone to call Kelly, allowing her to overhear his conversation with the caller. She, in turn, quietly informs Captain Ramey of this. Meanwhile, Stu continues to confess to everyone that his whole life is a lie, to make himself look more important than he really is or even feels. Stu’s confession provides sufficient distraction to allow the police to trace the payphone call to a nearby building, and Ramey uses coded messages to inform Stu of this. Stu warns the caller that the police are on the way, and the caller replies that if he is caught, then he will kill Kelly. Panicked, Stu grabs the handgun and leaves the booth, screaming for the sniper to kill him instead of Kelly. The police fire upon Stu, while a smaller force breaks into the room that the caller was tracked to, only to find the gun and a man’s corpse.
Stu regains consciousness to find the police fired only rubber bullets at him, stunning but not harming him. Stu and Kelly happily reunite. As the police bring down the body, Stu identifies it as the pizza delivery man from earlier. Stu gets medical treatment at a local ambulance; as he does, a man with a briefcase (Kiefer Sutherland) passes by and says that he regrets killing the pizza deliverer and warns Stu that if his new-found honesty does not last, he will be hearing from him again. The man disappears into the crowd with Stu unable to call out due to being sedated by the paramedics. As he does, someone else is being called from that same line. We only hear him say, “Hello?”.
This is a great movie, excellently written and very emotional. Colin Farrell’s desperation is great, and he has some funny lines. Kiefer Sutherland as the caller is great too, he’s really got the skills for this film and he shines as the uncompromising voice who’s really out to get Stu.

REVIEW: THANK YOU FOR SMOKING

CAST
Aaron Eckhart (The Dark Knight Rises)
Maria Bello (The Closer)
Cameron Bright (The Butterfly Effect)
Sam Elliott (Hulk)
Katie Holmes (Batman Begins)
William H. Macy (Jurassic Park 3)
J.K. Simmons (Spider-Man)
Robert Duvall (The Judge)
David Koechner (Anchorman)
Renee Graham (The Convent)
Adam Brody (Mr. & Mrs. Smith)
Rob Lowe (Waynes World)
Dennis Miller (What Happens in Vegas)
Nick Naylor is a handsome, smooth-talking tobacco lobbyist and the vice-president of a tobacco lobby called the “Academy of Tobacco Studies”, which for 15 years has been “researching” the link between tobacco smoking and lung cancer. They claim that their research—funded primarily by tobacco companies—has found no definitive evidence of any linkage. Naylor’s job consists mainly of reporting the questionable research of the “Academy” to the public and defending Big Tobacco on television programs by questioning opposing health claims and advocating personal choice. Naylor and his friends, firearm lobbyist Bobby Jay Bliss and alcohol lobbyist Polly Bailey, meet every week and jokingly call themselves the “Merchants of Death” or “The MOD Squad”. As anti-tobacco campaigns mount and numbers of young smokers decline, Naylor suggests that product placement of cigarettes could once again boost cigarette sales. Naylor’s boss, BR, sends Naylor to Los Angeles to bargain for cigarette placement in upcoming movies. Naylor takes along his young son Joey in hopes of bonding with him. The next day, Naylor is sent to meet with Lorne Lutch, the cancer-stricken man who once played the Marlboro Man in cigarette ads and is now campaigning against cigarettes. As his son watches, Naylor successfully offers Lutch a suitcase of money for his silence. During the drive back, Nick and Joey discuss the beauty of argument.
 Senator Finistirre, one of Naylor’s most vehement critics, is the promoter of a bill to add a skull and crossbones POISON warning to cigarette packaging. During a televised debate with Finistirre, Naylor receives a death threat from a caller. Despite the threat, Naylor still plans to appear before a U.S. Senate committee to fight Finistirre’s bill. Naylor is then kidnapped and covered in nicotine patches. Awakening in a hospital, he learns that the very high nicotine tolerance level resulting from his smoking has saved him from death by nicotine poisoning, but now he is hypersensitive to nicotine and can never smoke again.
Meanwhile, Naylor has been seduced by a young reporter named Heather Holloway. During their steamy fling, the besotted Naylor tells Holloway all about his life and career—information that she happily publishes in an exposé that appears just after the kidnapping. Her article relentlessly bashes Naylor and his work, exposing Lutch’s bribe, the product-placement scheme, and the MOD squad. It accuses Naylor of training his son Joey to follow his amoral example. All public sympathy due to Naylor’s kidnapping evaporates, and Naylor is fired by BR. Naylor falls into depression until Joey helps him recall the integrity in his job of defending corporations that almost no one feels deserve a defense.
Rejuvenated, Naylor tells the press about his affair with Holloway and promises to clear the names of everyone mentioned in her article. He also declares that he will still appear before the Senate committee. At the hearing, Naylor admits to the dangers of smoking but argues that public awareness is already high enough without extra warnings. He emphasizes consumer choice and responsibility and, to the dismay of Senator Finistirre, claims that if tobacco companies are guilty of tobacco-related deaths, then perhaps Finistirre’s state of Vermont, as a major cheese producer, is likewise guilty of cholesterol-related deaths.
BR congratulates Naylor on the speech and offers him his old job but Naylor has a change of heart. Seeing Big Tobacco settling claims of liability, Naylor remarks that he has left just in time. He also mentions Heather was humiliated upon being terminated by the paper for her article and is working as a weather reporter on a local news station. Naylor supports his son’s newfound interest in debating and opens a private lobbying firm. As he consults cellphone industry representatives concerned about claims that cellphones cause brain cancer, he narrates: “Michael Jordan plays ball. Charles Manson kills people. I talk. Everyone has a talent.”
Full of great lines and a redemptive story arc that is actually believable the films greatest triumph is in the casting which is flawless for virtually every role.