IN THE LOOP
Obscene Dialogue, with a Rather Flat Finish
Release Date: July 24, 2009
Audience: Older teenagers and adults
Runtime: 106 minutes
Distributor: IFC Films
Director: Armando Iannucci
Executive Producer: None
Producer: Adam Tandy and Kevin Loader
Address Comments To:Jonathan Sehring, President, IFC Films/IFC Entertainment
Joshua Sapan, President/CEO, Rainbow Media Holdings LLC
(Independent Film Channel/IFC Films/IFC First Take/AMC/WE)
11 Penn Plaza
New York, NY 10001
Phone: (212) 324-8500
The movie opens with a bumbling government official, Simon Foster, telling the press in a radio interview that war in the Middle East is “unforeseeable.” This angers the Prime Minister’s foul-mouthed Director of Communications Malcolm Tucker, who balls Simon out and tells him to stick to the party line, “War is neither unforeseeable, nor foreseeable.”
Simon is invited to a mini-summit with the U.S. Delegation, where Simon clumsily equivocates when America’s pro-peace Assistant Secretary for Diplomacy Karen Clarke mentions Simon’s gaffe. After the meeting, when questioned repeatedly by some reporters, Simon compounds his gaffe by saying, “Britain must be ready to climb the mountain of conflict.”
Simon’s two gaffes launch a private war in the U.S. government between Clarke’s pro-peace contingent, which includes General Miller, and Assistant Secretary Linton Barwick, who has formed a secret pro-war committee titled The Future Planning Committee. Chaos breaks out when Clarke finds out the real name of Linton’s war committee. Everything comes to a head during a meeting of the U.N. Security Council, with each side wanting the vote to go their way.
Of course, the main purpose of this political satire is to mock the 2003 American and British decision under President George Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair to go to war against Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Despite this liberal, politically correct purpose, IN THE LOOP also manages to mock big government and the stupid, power-hungry bureaucrats who run it. Thus, paradoxically, conservatives and libertarians may find a great deal to like in this movie, which warns viewers not to place too much power in the hands of government bureaucrats. This is exactly what God warns the Hebrew people when they ask for a king in Chapter 8 of 1 Samuel. Even so, it is clear that the filmmakers side with the modern-day pacifists in its story. They seem just as incompetent and venal, however.
Artistically speaking, although IN THE LOOP has plenty of brilliantly witty dialogue, the script lacks a compelling third act that really heightens the suspense and jeopardy. The production notes claim that Stanley Kubrick’s DR. STRANGELOVE is one of the movie’s inspirations, but, if you ever have seen that classic movie, you will know that its third act builds to a crescendo of suspenseful comedy and jeopardy that is virtually unmatched anywhere, especially in the comic realm. There is no comparison, therefore, between the two movies. In fact, by the end of IN THE LOOP, MOVIEGUIDE® began to feel the tedium and repetition in the script, and the movie lost a lot of its steam, especially dramatically. This flat finish keeps the movie from achieving total success.
In addition, IN THE LOOP contains a constant barrage of strong foul language. The angry Malcolm character is defined by his colorful penchant for reading everyone the riot act in the most vulgar, insulting ways, including plenty of sexual put-downs. His foul language infects the rest of the dialogue.
Thus, despite some positive qualities, IN THE LOOP merits extreme caution for its negative content and a less than perfect endorsement for its artistic quality, craftsmanship and entertainment value.
The main purpose of this satire is to mock the American and British decision under President George Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair to go to war against Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Despite this liberal, politically correct message, IN THE LOOP also mocks big government and the stupid, power-hungry bureaucrats who run it. Conservatives and libertarians may find this refreshing. That said, the third act lacks suspense and jeopardy. IN THE LOOP also contains nearly a constant barrage of strong foul language, including many crude sexual insults between all the fighting bureaucrats.