In The Loop

In The Loop
In The Loop was released on DVD in Canada on November 10 by Alliance Films and will come out January 10, 2010 in the US. You can help Toronto Screen Shots by buy­ing it from or

In The Loop (Director: Armando Iannucci): On this side of the pond, the name Armando Iannucci likely doesn’t ring a bell, but for fans of British com­edy, the man is con­sidered a genius. His col­lab­or­a­tions with Steve Coogan include the clas­sic Alan Partridge shows (The Day Today, Knowing Me, Knowing You, I’m Alan Partridge). Most recently, he’s been writ­ing and dir­ect­ing a blaz­ingly fast and funny series called The Thick of It, which mines the comedic ter­rit­ory of polit­ical media hand­lers work­ing for the British gov­ern­ment.

In The Loop takes almost all the act­ors from that show, mixes up the char­ac­ters a bit, and places them in the midst of the run up to the (unnamed but blind­ingly obvi­ous) Iraq war in 2003. Peter Capaldi returns as Malcolm Tucker, the whipsmart press sec­ret­ary with a mean streak. I’ve never heard more cre­at­ive swear­ing in my life, and if you’re offen­ded by “f-bombs” then this film is def­in­itely not for you. But it’s my firm belief that no one can curse more cre­at­ively than our friends from the British Isles, and every char­ac­ter reaches for the stars in this very funny movie.

Simon Foster is the min­is­ter for inter­na­tional devel­op­ment who puts his foot in his mouth by mak­ing off-the-cuff remarks about the pos­sib­il­ity of a war. The press runs riot and Malcolm Tucker tears young Foster a new back­side. The rest of the film fol­lows the boun­cing min­is­ter as he’s used by pro- and anti-war fac­tions in both the UK and the US. He con­tin­ues to fudge his “lines” and the res­ult­ing mess makes for some very funny situ­ations. While The Thick of It con­fines itself to English polit­ics, In The Loop cre­ates sim­ilar char­ac­ters on the American side, with James Gandolfini clearly enjoy­ing him­self as a peace-lov­ing gen­eral who nev­er­the­less threatens to kill sev­eral of his polit­ical oppon­ents. It’s nice, too, to see Anna Chlumsky (best known for 1991’s My Girl) return in the role of a young aide to an anti-war assist­ant sec­ret­ary of state.

In The Loop

Overall, though, the Brits get the best lines (as might be expec­ted) and one of the fun­ni­est scenes is when Malcolm Tucker the angry Scot actu­ally brings in an even angrier Scot to handle yet another press leak. Steve Coogan has a small cameo as an irate local man try­ing to get his mother’s garden wall fixed in the midst of an inter­na­tional crisis. Though I would have loved to see more of him, giv­ing him a big­ger role might have unbal­anced the mostly star-free cast. In The Loop will be riot­ously funny to any­one with even a passing interest in the work­ings of polit­ics. Though it’s not any­thing spe­cial cine­mat­ic­ally (think a longer epis­ode of The West Wing), there’s enough crack­ling dia­logue to keep you laugh­ing all the way through. In fact, it’s a per­fect film for DVD since you may find your­self hav­ing to rewatch cer­tain scenes, either because the accents are slightly unin­tel­li­gible, or because you were laugh­ing so hard you missed the next piece of dia­logue.

This was a film whose trailer let it down because it had to cut out all the swear­ing. So I’ve included instead an actual clip. Be fore­warned, though, that this con­tains some many naughty words.


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  1. Pingback: My 2009 List of Lists — Toronto Screen Shots

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