From the Editor

Movie Review Archive

Thank you for checking out my movie review archive. I'm in the process of transitioning to something else, so I will no longer post new reviews to this blog. In the meantime, I will keep these reviews archived; these are from the fall of 2008 to April 2011. Please watch this blog for more info and keep in touch (you can still find me on Facebook and Twitter). Here's to more great movies!

Wes Singleton

North Texas Film Critics Association

Sunday, July 26, 2009

In the Loop - B+

Not rated (strong language), 102 minutes

British-American relations on view in the sharp satire "In the Loop"

"In the Loop" takes a familiar, fictional and often spirited look at British-American political relations and what might happen in the event of a war between the two countries. A spin-off of the British comedy TV series "The Thick of It," it's dialogue-heavy, character-driven and relying heavily on the banter of its players. Fresh, witty and foul-mouthed, it may be too talky for some but those that enjoy series like "The Office" will enjoy it.

The US President and UK Prime Minister fancy a war, but not everyone agrees that war is a good thing. US General Miller ("The Sopranos'" James Gandolfini) certainly believe so and neither does the British Secretary of State for International Development, Simon Foster (Tom Hollander from "Pirates of the Caribbean"). But when the mild-mannered minister inadvertently appears to back the war on national television, he promptly attracts the attention of the PMs aggressive communications chief Malcolm Tucker ("The Thick of It" actor Peter Capaldi), latching onto him like a hawk. Soon, the Brits find themselves in D.C., where diplomatic relations collide with overseas spin doctors and off-hand misunderstandings quickly spirals into an insurmountable mountain of conflict.

"In the Loop" is hilarious, amusing and intelligent fun, a sharp political satire on the inner-workings of the British and American governments. "In the Loop" is helmed with great fun by Armando Iannucci, creator of the British comedy TV series "The Thick of It" that is the basis for the fun. If you've seen that series, he treads similar ground here, except a more expansive script that includes a view inside the American government. The quick hand-held camera movements give "In the Loop" a personal documentary-like feel, seemingly like "The Office."

The large mostly British cast performs sublimely well, including a couple of actors from "The Thick of It." Capaldi reprises his role as British official Malcolm from that series, and he is viciously funny, particularly when he's angry, which is most of the time (a brief scene when he attempts to meet with a much-younger American official is hilarious), anchoring the film well. Addison is decent as Toby though his storyline too often resembles the Jim-Pam love angle on "The Office."

Gandolfini has some good moments in "In The Loop" as as U.S. general, showing an underrated comic side, and he and Malcolm have an amusing exchange (he calls Malcolm "a creepy English gay mercenary"). Hollander has some memorable moments as the befuddled Simon, and he utters the film's funniest line: "I feel like Simon Cowell, except for the ability to say "f--- you." Interestingly, "In the Loop" marks a film comeback for Anna Chlumsky, who as a child played the title role in the 1991 iconic film "My Girl." Grown-up and playing an American official, she does well with an underwritten as an American official whose document sparks war interest.

Fortunately, "In the Loop" is completely fictional and by the time it gets to its end, some characters will be standing and some won't but the governments will continue to run as efficiently as the people who are in charge. "In the Loop" is a clever, cutting satire that's recommended, except for those who may hold or desire a government job.