In The Loop
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Directed by Armando Iannucci
Starring Peter Capaldi, Tom Hollander, Chris Addison, Gina McKee, Mimi Kennedy, Anna Chlumsky, James Gandolfini
Originally Released: January 22, 2009
With the big announcement over the last week of Peter Capaldi turning out to be the next Doctor for Doctor Who, I thought it might be timely to take a look at some of the work he’s been well-known for. The series, The Thick Of It, showcases one his most iconic characters: Malcolm Tucker, the foul-mouthed spin doctor in the British Government.
The series spawned a movie called In The Loop, where the government crosses paths with the American government in the planning for invasion of a Middle Eastern country.
The story begins with the leaders of the respective nations already planning on progressing forward with a preemptive strike on a country, in a comic parody of historic political events during the post-9/11 era. While the leaders convene committees and meetings across the globe to push the case for conflict, other operatives behind the scenes work on efforts to stop the warmongering.
While Malcolm Tucker is the highlight of the movie, he is not the focus. The focus on the UK side of the coin is with cabinet minister Simon Foster (Tom Hollander) with aide Toby Wright (Chris Addison); as on the U.S. side showcases Karen Clark (Mimi Kennedy) with her aide Liza Weld (Anna Chlumsky). Along for the ride is the brilliant James Gandolfini, playing Lieutenant General Miller.
For the Doctor Who fans curious about Capaldi’s work, In The Loop is a nice introduction to The Thick Of It series. Tucker is the complete opposite of the Doctor, but will give you a good idea of Capaldi’s capacity for comedy and also portraying anger and fury. Outside of the comparison, he is a standalone brilliant actor in this movie, with some amazing sequences that are made memorable with his artistic gift of the vulgar vernacular.
Out of the main ensemble cast, Hollander is very good as Simon Foster – convincing audiences he is the toothless and witless politician, embodying perhaps some of the more pathetic aspects of UK politics. Likewise, Anna Chlumsky is fantastic and a treat to watch; while Gandolfini is (as always) flawless and convincing completely.
The political satire nevertheless, throughout the movie, might be too dry and dark in its humor for some people, though while many will find it hysterical, as an entire piece it is a scathing commentary on contemporary politics. The fundamentals of the under the table dealings and backstabbings and the scathing criticism of the spin doctors are as applicable to the Bush/Blair era as they are the Obama/Cameron era.
What’s also wonderful about In The Loop is the stark contrast between British and American culture. The two have many similarities, but the variances are striking. It’s incredibly amusing, and as the mundane elements and needs of local politics sneak into the international discussions as well.
The ambience of In The Loop is filmed and depicted in a ‘fake’ reality television setting – very much like The Office and Arrested Development. Metalheads might be amused with the short (but brilliant) cameo from Cannabis Corpse, as they perform “Sentence to Burn One” in a death metal nightclub scene. It’s short, but enough to make you raise the horns.
It’s a great flick and an excellent introduction to the dimmed satire of The Thick Of It. If you’re curious about Capaldi, give it a look.
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5