In the Loop
Starring Peter Capaldi, Chris Addison, and Anna Chlumsky. Rated 18A.
In the Loop is based on the patently absurd notion that British civil servants, for the sake of career advancement and due to general cowardice, would go against their own principles to support right-wing Americans in the race to pursue a needless war in the Middle East.
Watch the trailer for In the Loop.
The movie is a spinoff of the short-lived U.K. series The Thick of It, a kind of Yes Minister with profanity and topical subjects. The show likewise starred Peter Capaldi as foul-mouthed Scottish operative Malcolm Tucker (“Fuckity-bye” is a favourite cellphone sign-off), himself a riff on Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair’s famously ruthless communications director.
The PM here is never named, nor is the nation the Yanks want to invade. Instead, we get the inner-office workings of minister for international development Simon Foster (Tom Hollander), a Blair-like semi-intellectual at a loss about whether to identify himself as a hawk or a dove.
Small battles brew between Foster’s tough aide (marvellous Gina McKee) and the new boy (Chris Addison, who played a different character in the series). But they’re no match for Tucker, who sends our crew to Washington, D.C., where they’re caught between factions led by a peace-loving but malleable general (James Gandolfini) and a defence secretary (David Rasche, channelling Donald Rumsfeld) with a live grenade on his desk and tough aphorisms where his brains should be.
The swiftly paced film was directed by Scotland-born Armando Iannucci and cowritten by him and several other Thick veterans—although the large cast (which also includes former child star Anna Chlumsky as a hapless State Department underling) improvised much of the relentlessly witty material. Look for an almost unrecognizable Steve Coogan, star of Iannucci’s various Alan Partridge shows, as a local man who accidentally changes history, if only in a small, silly way.