Film review – In the Loop (2009)

Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi) and Lt. Gen. George Miller (James Gandolfini)

Barely disguising its intentions to ridicule the circumstances that lead to the 2002 Iraq Invasion, In the Loop examines the fictitious machinations of UK and USA spin-doctors, career politicians and advisors who get caught up in a debate about whether or not to declare war in the Middle East. As everybody plays off each other for political gain it soon becomes apparent than in modern politics you must either compromise your morals or be destroyed.

Made by the UK comedic writer/director Armando Iannucci as a stand-alone spin-off from his TV series The Thick of It (think The Office meets Yes Minister), In the Loop is both ruthlessly cynical and extremely funny. While the consistently strong cast includes recognisable names such as Steve Coogan and James Gandolfini, it is Scottish actor Peter Capaldi as the unstoppable spin-doctor Malcolm Tucker who truly stars. Tucker’s profanity-filled tirades of abuse would intimidate the entire cast of Glengarry Glen Ross, making him one of the most delightfully repugnant characters to grace the screen.

In the Loop is political satire at its best, leaving you giggling at the one-liners yet feeling complete despair about the political process.

Originally appeared in The Big Issue, No. 346, 2010

© Thomas Caldwell, 2010

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  1. Happy to hear you liked this movie. The original tv series The Thick of It is even more charming with loose camera work and a great deal of adlibed scripting – Highly recommended viewing.

    I could listen to Malcolm Tucker all day long :)

  2. Yes! Moment to moment, and line to line, here was a script that never quit, a script so ornately verbal, and so in love with language, that watching the movie, it was difficult not to imagine its writers hunched over a dozen volumes of the OED, debating every word down to its every syllable. And I do mean syllable: rhythmically, In the Loop is an astounding, almost musical feat of film comedy – one of the best in quite a while – and to see the picture gain Oscar visibility, even if it doesn’t go on to win, felt like some kind of personal vindication.

  3. Yes, political despaire over the US political process. I just hate it when I laugh at the expense of my own “…land that I love, stand beside her and guide her…” there is no more polyanna. Where did our simple innocence go. I do remember the emergence of the dialogue that got our socio-political juices flowing in that slapstick Archie Bunker. But how far have we come with Vietnam, Panama, Libya, Iran, just to name a few, and oh yes the “awakening” from our sheltered Andy of Mayberry, with the Nixon scramble, to having to have at least one eye on our arrogant Pride, now shamlessly laughing to tears at the f-er Tucker spewing his colorful profanity. Are we really here at this moment in time Someone should have predicted it. Gandolfini, did set his future odor with The Last Castle, and he keeps it wafting in his role here.

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