Actually, In The Loop kind of feels a bit like a TV show, a more grown-up version of Parks and Recreation, federal rather than local government (British rather than American), shot in a grainy style that gives it that documentary (or mockumentary) feel, though it lacks the assertiveness of the talking-head confessional interviews (and in fact, it turns out to be a spin-off of sorts from the British series In The Thick of It).
To say this is a black comedy, or a satirical one, is selling it short. Sure it’s bleak, but it’s scathingly funny with one-liners from top to bottom, nonstop, biting biting biting. I loved it.
Both the US and the UK seem on the verge of war in the middle east and some poor minister gets trapped into saying war is “unforseeable” on some radio program, and the press goes nuts. The action volleys between the two countries, which allows the likes of James Gandolfini as a general and Mimi Kennedy as the Assistant Secretary General for Diplomacy to shine. But this is not their movie. This movie really belongs to the brits, and Tom Hollander as the hapless Minister for International Development really sells the bumbling politician, and is a great foil to Peter Capaldi, who, as the Prime Minister’s director of communications, gets to lambast him and all others in his path with relentless tongue-lashings I guarantee you won’t find anywhere else.
While the war looms large (some trying to prevent it, others gleefully encouraging it), the bedraggled minister cannot neglect his own constituency, which is brilliantly represented by Steve Coogan and the wall that may or may not crumble into the path of his fervently gardening mother. This makes for a potent contrast to what’s going on at the UN, with leaked documents and fabricated intelligence being bandied about about as quickly as the word FUCK (said a notable 135 times).
My ribs ached from laughing so hard. Political satire may not be everyone’s idea of a good time, but In The Loop’s about as good as example as you’ll ever come across. The acting is spot-on, and though it’s a large ensemble, everyone seems to have their time to shine. The writing is sharp and takes no prisoners. Favourite line: “You are a real boring fuck. Sorry, sorry, I know you disapprove of swearing so I’ll sort that out. You are a boring F, star, star, CUNT!” Okay, I lied My actual favourite line is “In England we have a saying for a situation such as this, which is that it’s difficult difficult lemon difficult” (as opposed to easy peasy lemon squeezy). That one made Diet Pepsi shoot out the wrong hole. You could all go watch this and you’d all be back with your own favourite lines, and there would be hundreds, all different. The script is that good, and also that jam-packed!
To finally come back to that first sentence about the TV show Veep (I’ll get there!): both Anna Chlumsky and Zach Woods have roles in this movie that are near-identical to the ones they play on the show. It made me woozy! I said as much Sean who reminded me that the movie came first, which almost made me feel dumb until I had to explain to him that Chlumsky is My Girl. Who’s dumb now?
Don’t answer that.