In The Loop Review: AKA Jon Stewart – The Movie

IN THE LOOP: On general release from Friday 17th April 2009

Armando Iannucci has been one of the most influential figures in comedy for the last 20 years, uniting such brilliant comedians as Chris Morris, Stewart Lee and Steve Coogan and producing the crème de la comedy-licious crème of satire in the notoriously Daily Mail-hating TV programmes ‘The Day Today’ and ‘The Thick Of It’.

His directorial debut is a satirical tour de force, hilariously funny, bitingly critical and one of the best films of the year so far.

In The Loop builds on the backstabbing and incompetence expounded in the BBC’s ‘The Thick of It’, moving from Whitehall to Washington in the run up to a fictional war. Simon Foster (Tom Hollander) is an ineffectual British Minister who stirs up political controversy by blurting out that “war is unforeseeable” on national television. This little political faux-pas means he is subsequently used as a pawn by administrations on both sides of the Atlantic in order to justify a potential war in an unnamed Middle Eastern country.

Whilst there’s been an almost endless amount of comedy that lampoons those actually in power, In The Loop spends more time with the everyday lackeys, those who run meetings and chase paper and it demonstrates how governmental policy can be just as distorted by their own personal agendas.

The undoubted star of the film is Peter Capaldi, reprising his role from ‘The Thick of It’ as the viciously aggressive spin-doctor Malcolm Tucker. His foam-flecked outbursts are the most consistently hilarious thing about the film; any dislike for the character is swept aside by his inventively Machiavellian deceitfulness and poisonously sharp tongue.

The dialogue is sharp and quick but there are also some excruciating moments of silent embarrassment which comes as no surprise seeing as one of the co-writers also writes cringe-athon ‘Peep Show’.

Important policy decisions in In the Loop are often made by the little people, people who bully and bribe, cajole and intimidate others weaker than themselves. Facts aren’t objective; they’re simply what people are told. Small personal wars are fought in meetings and boardrooms and yet, you can’t help but wonder if this is how government policy is actually dictated.

Ah, who are we kidding. We’ve seen Jon Stewart. This is probably the toned down version!

In The Loop is one of the cleverest, witty and not to mention funniest films you’re going to see in 2009. If you miss it, you deserve to be impeached.

Jez Sands