Thursday, November 4, 2010

In the Loop

If the recent elections left you a bit frayed at the edges with the non-stop barrage of attack ads, maybe it would help to sit down and enjoy a movie that reminds us that internal government politics are usually not much more mature than the election process. 

To paraphrase a review by Time Out London, In the Loop is the anti-West Wing. Instead of a movie depicting government officials as patriotic civil servants out to improve their nation, it shows them the way most of us probably think of them: as people in nice suits shouting at each other a lot. 

In the Loop is a documentary-style comedy about what goes on behind the scenes of the British and American governments. Simon Foster, a somewhat insignificant British minister, makes a comment on the radio that "war is unforeseeable," in an attempt to avoid commenting on the possibility of the UK going to war. After being chewed out for not following the Prime Minister's line by Malcolm Tucker, the communications chief, Foster goes back on air to try and amend his comment, but instead further increases speculation that the UK may be going to war. The comments are then picked up by the U.S. State Department, and the Brits must travel to America, as everybody tries to manipulate Foster's comments to swing both governments towards or against going to war. 

However, the political commentary sort of gets put on the back burner compared to the volume of foul language used in this film. It's quite possible that nearly every line of this movie is laden with some sort of obscenity. At a running time of 1 hour, 46 minutes, you'd think excessive use of the F-bomb would lose it's punch. It doesn't, and that's probably because it's mixed in with every other insult conceivable and ones you probably would never have thought up on your own. At one point, Love Actually is used as a derogatory term. 

There are a few actors in supporting roles who'd be familiar to most audiences, such as James Gandolfini and Steve Coogan, but Peter Capaldi definitely steals the show as Malcolm Tucker. (He's the one swearing everybody out in the scene above.) Capaldi plays Tucker as a completely unhinged, short-tempered individual, yet a highly quotable one. It's actually quite a shame that the TV series that In the Loop spun off of, The Thick of It, isn't currently available in the US, because Malcolm Tucker is a character you'd definitely want to see more of. Just make sure small children aren't around if you quote his lines. 

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