Movie #187 2020: In the Loop (2009)

Politics and comedy? Sounds like exactly my cup of tea.

In The Loop is a 2009 documentary-style comedy feature from the legend who is Armando Iannucci. With a focus on the ‘special relationship’ between the UK and the USA, we join The Thick of It‘s Malcolm Tucker (yep, Peter Capaldi plays the same character – does this make it a spin-off?) in the latest political dilemma. To summarise, the US President and the UK Prime Minister are planning to launch a war in the Middle East, but this movie doesn’t follow the heads of state. Rather, Iannucci focuses in on the behind-the-scenes characters – a crew of advisers and aides who are either for the war, or are trying to prevent it.

You know what? This movie strikes a chord in today’s climate. Why? Because it’s the perfect movie to watch when you have no confidence in your current government. What’s scary is, this seems like less of a joke and more of a documentary at this point. It’s like Iannucci saw the state of today’s world coming 11 years prior.

What appealed to me here was that it all seems like a prelude to Veep, which is absolutely brilliant. It even stars some of the same actors (Anna Chlumsky, for example) and although I’ve never seen The Thick of It, I kind of want to now. Capaldi is as brilliant and funny as he always is. Now I think about it, it’s almost as if this is part of the timeline – slap bang in the middle of each of Iannucci’s hit TV shows.

Although it’s very good, it took me a while to get into this, It got better as it went on, but that’s probably just me and my poor attention span. Strangely, I was more interested and engrossed in the American segments than the British ones despite being a Brit myself, but that could be due to the fact that the current US government is just so easy to laugh at. (That’s not to say the UK government isn’t – they’re fucking terrible too).

The real genius of this movie is in its dialogue. I’ve actually made a note of a few of my favourite lines from In The Loop, because that’s what really matters when it comes down to it in a movie like this – if it’s not funny and well-written, it would just be awfully boring.

So here goes:

“I’m in a fucking motorcade!”

“You’re gonna use him as a little meat puppet.”

“I’m fucking zen.”

“Somebody has dropped a bollock in the noodles here.”

“Don’t ever call me fucking ‘English’ again.”

Of course none of these quotes will make sense if you’ve not seen the movie, but there are just so many zingers in this that I had to include a few here. It’s just some damn clever writing.

I can’t review this movie either without mentioning how much I miss James Gandolfini. He was one of my favourites actors (and still is), so seeing him step outside his comfort zone here and play a comedic role was very comforting to see. He’s perfect in every way in this movie, and he is sorely missed.

On a personal level however, I just didn’t love it. Of course it’s personal preference and I did appreciate the humour but it just wasn’t as gripping as I wanted it to be. I feel as though Iannucci’s style fits the TV show mould better, but when it’s funny, it’s really funny. Still a recommendation from me… but only if you can commit your full attention to it!

In the Loop is available to rent on the Google Play Store for £2.49.

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