Sunday, July 26, 2009

Get Caught Up In the Loop

Director Armando Iannucci has wheels of comedy constantly spinning in In the Loop, the contagiously funny and fast-paced political satire about the behind-the-scenes workings of preventing and promoting the war the U.S. president and U.K. prime minister both want to see happen.

Utilizing the increasingly popular docu-style handheld camerawork, Iannucci and the team of four writers expand their acclaimed BBC TV series The Thick of It making use of actors and characters that have already been worked with. In the Loop drags friends across the pond into the mix with the addition of such American actors as James Gandolfini.

Satire as a whole is a difficult level of comedy to achieve. Political satire seems to be on a whole different level. This probably explains the limited amount of good films that are successfully able to make fun of and poke fun at the people who lead our countries. Stanley Kubrick got it right when he adapted the Peter George novel Red Alert, turning it into Dr. Strangelove, which isn't only one of the best political satires ever made, but one of the greatest overall comedies ever made.

In the Loop is the new humorous effort that I believe places into the upper echelon of the genre. A simple comparison of this film to anything else would be pointless and not do much justice to the smarts contained inside. Pointing out just one positive would be a struggle, as so much shines in Iannucci's film.

The scene stealer of the film is without any doubts Peter Capaldi. Capaldi plays Malcolm Tucker, a ferocious and dirty-mouthed high level employee of the British goverment. The snarling cuss-outs of those around him and insulting one-liners delivered by Capaldi work as pure gold, making him the character you want to see on screen. Tucker's resourceful, scalding and laugh inducing insults include ones such as calling someone a "Nazi Julie Andrews" and another "The baby from Eraserhead".

Every actor and actress lends a hand to the present chemistry in their own way. A huge part of In the Loop, for me, was the way the characters interact, influence and manipulate using whatever means necessary. Known British actor Tom Hollander plays Simon Foster, the minister who causes a panic in his office after unthinkingly commenting on the war as being "unforseeable". Foster in general can't handle the media or public speaking in a multitude of ways, and is a great representation of the way a few words can blow up into so much more. The character interactions and fast-paced dialogue and dished out one-liners isn't the only thing flying here, but it is of course the most prevalent.

Iannucci doesn't bring the satire past the state department levels, leaving the White House folk as only an off-screen symbol. Iannucci commented on how the people they focus on being "the kind of people that actually make decisions with enormous political consequences," which rings true. We vote for the president, but there's so much more involved in these decisions that isn't seen, and that is what Iannucci attempts to show. If the real underlying people of government are anything like this, it's a fierce bunch down in the underground.

In the Loop is a supremely smart and witty film, and one of the funniest of its kind in years. I'm not sure what place a film like this has in America right now, but it should be a relevant piece of media and an essential viewing by all. It's a shame a title as laugh out loud funny for reasons other than the typical Judd Apatow/Seth Rogen fare like this can't pull a huge theatrical release stateside, but I suppose it's just the way things are.

I'm convinced that this film will find a growing audience of its own in due time, perhaps when it hits the virtual shelves of Netflix. I just can't let such a remarkable and fresh film sit idle. Do yourself a favor and check out In the Loop, one of the edgiest comedies to be released in years, and a favorite of mine in 2009.

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