In the Loop (2009) The chattering smarty-pants who ran the U.S. government on The West Wing are slow talkers compared with the motormouthed and hilariously imperfect power elite in… 2009-07-24 PT106M Comedy Peter Capaldi Anna Chlumsky James Gandolfini Tom Hollander
Movie Review

In the Loop (2009)

In the Loop | James Gandolfini in IN THE LOOP
Image credit: Nicola Dove
James Gandolfini in IN THE LOOP

Details Limited Release: Jul 24, 2009; Length: 106 minutes; Genre: Comedy

The chattering smarty-pants who ran the U.S. government on The West Wing are slow talkers compared with the motormouthed and hilariously imperfect power elite in the brainy British comedy In the Loop. As in 
The West Wing, public policy, government protocol, and media strategy are at the heart of the matter; the process of diplomacy is as important (and amusing) a source of dramatic energy as the outcome of all those summit meetings and position papers. But the man in charge of this snowballing political mayhem is writer-director Armando Iannucci 
(a crucial collaborator in the comedy of Steve Coogan in his guise as insufferable TV celeb Alan Partridge), so the tone is scads more acerbic than anything that would have been tolerated in the White House of Jed Bartlet and the scripts of Aaron Sorkin. In the Loop invites its audience to think, and presumes a certain love of Monty Python. Not to mention an appreciation of Dr. Strangelove. Consider the movie — an outgrowth of Iannucci's BBC TV series The Thick of It — an offspring of the great 1980s BBC screwball political comedy series Yes Minister. And consider it a welcome oasis of script literacy in a summer of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.

The troubles begin when doltish British government minister Simon Foster (Pirates of the Caribbean's Tom Hollander, always good at conveying twittishness) wanders off point during a TV interview, and in so doing nearly commits Her Majesty's administration to backing a U.S. war in the Middle East. Foster's fumble sends the prime minister's apoplectically irritable director of communications, Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi, master of snarl in a Scottish accent), on an erudite, obscenity-laden rampage of ire that doesn't quit. Foster and Tucker then head 
to Washington, D.C., to meet with their dingbat American counterparts, including a 
ballbusting assistant secretary of state with bleeding gums (Mimi Kennedy), a wily Army general (James Gandolfini), and a State 
Department bigwig (David Rasche) in charge of a secret war committee. Anna Chlumsky does well as a sexy, ambitious aide. And 
let the record reflect that Gandolfini wears a chestful of medals with honor, representing Army bluntness at its most Yank, especially to Brits who think that hyperarticulate banter is the Empire's gift to peace. A–

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Originally posted Jul 22, 2009 Published in issue #1058 Jul 31, 2009 Order article reprints