The Saturday Afternoon Shift: In The Loop

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In the era of House of Cards, an über popular political show about politicians being clever and outsmarting one another, I felt a need to bring us back to reality by highlighting a comedy gem from 2009 also about politics, In The Loop. From British Director Armando Iannucci, In The Loop takes a lot from the incredibly popular British television show The Thick Of It, even lifting that series’ main character, Malcolm Tucker (played by the 12th Doctor Peter Capaldi), from TV to film.

In The Loop begins with Tucker, Director of Communications for Prime Minster, reviewing media appearances by the cabinet from the previous night. He happens upon the Minister of International Development, Simon Foster (Tom Hollander), doing an interview on BBC4 where he’s talking politics of the day. Things shift quickly and Minister Foster ends up saying a war in the Middle East is “unforeseeable.” Tucker marches over to Foster’s office and berates him for his injection of opinion contrary to party line. We, the audience, also get introduced to the fact that Peter Capaldi uses profanity better than anyone else in the world. After Foster attempts to back track in a hilarious scene that reveals that he doesn’t know the meaning of the word “foreseeable,” Tucker banishes him from all media appearances until the situation is solved, because he doesn’t need trouble since the US State Department is in town. Things are later made worse when a corned Foster says “climb the mountain of conflict,” leading Tucker to having to try and fend off the US State Department while also cleaning up Foster’s mess.

I love In The Loop, because it’s a film that is not afraid to show how some of the most powerful people in politics aren’t exactly the smartest people in the world. Bad decisions are constantly made, and hilarity repeatedly ensues. It’s kind of frightening how this film satirizes Washington because it reveals how quickly terrible situations can happen. Plus, this is a film that has great casting. Paul Higgins, James Gandolfini, Mimi Kennedy, Zack Woods, and Steve Coogan all do great work here. Anna Chlumsky is amazing in this as Liza Weld; and the great work done in this film led Iannucci to cast her in Veep. (Veep, which is similar to In the Loop, is a long gestating project for Iannucci, who was initially attempting to make an American version of The Thick of It, but ended up making a HBO comedy about the thanklessness of being the Vice President of The United States.) So enjoy In The Loop as a tiny escape from other overly dramatic portrayals of politics.

In The Loop is available on Netflix and Amazon Instant.
The Thick Of It is available for American audiences on Hulu Plus.
The third season premiere of Veep starts April 6 on HBO, and previous seasons can be found on HBOGO.

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