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June 2, 2009 | by  | in Film | [ssba]

In The Loop


There is a very special kind of fear that comes from seeing films adapted from television series you love. Like the deep ache walking to the train station where you just know someone is about to break up with you, waves of optimism—maybe this will one will be okay, maybe maybe maybe this time they won’t have screwed it up—alternate with waves of dread—who would let this happen? Will the world ever make sense again? The TV series in question here is The Thick of It, a cripplingly funny mock-doc about the politics of spin and the spinning of politics in British government. The Thick of It is easily one of the finest pieces of television produced in recent memory, it comes straight from the brain of Armando Iannucci, the gruff godfather of modern British comedy—without him we wouldn’t have Chris Morris, Steve Coogan, Stewart Lee and many others—it is a post-faux-verite jump cut fest filled with snivelling MPs and enraged Scottish civil servants. But, most importantly, it has a writer whose sole job is coming up with creative and poetic ways to swear, and if there is one surer sign of something’s genius than that I don’t want to know what it is.

But now The Thick of It is bursting onto the big screen as In The Loop, and this is where that fear comes out to play. Luckily, the fear is wrong. In The Loop is a more than worthy spin-off. Being made by the same creative team and having a lot of the same cast—even if they’re not playing the same characters—makes sure that the distinctly fractured and fractious voice of The Thick of It isn’t lost.

The story is one of classic mis- or non-understanding. A member in the British cabinet states that war with the Middle East is “unforeseeable”, and with that the face is on from both the pro- and anti-war lobbies in America to claim this man as their savoir and either go to or entirely divert war. Malcolm Tucker, the enraged and enraging Scots civil servant mentioned earlier, is deployed to get everything sorted the fuck out. Hilarity ensues.

There is a lot to love in In The Loop. Peter Capaldi’s sneeringly brilliant performance as Malcolm Tucker. Capaldi does not only chew the scenery, he tears huge chunks out of it with his vicious maw and spits them in your eye and makes you like it, dammit. The direction and cinematography is self-reflexive and interesting without ever being masturbatory or pious. It is perfectly designed for an audience with no knowledge of The Thick of It, being much more of a side step than a sequel. But, best of all, is just how amazingly funny it is. It is kaleidoscopically funny. It’s saturated with one liners that will split your sides and then your fronts—my personal favourite being “Oh, come on, this will be easy peasy lemon squeezy.” “No. It will be difficult difficult lemon difficult.”

Better than Spinal Tap. See it when it comes or stop living.

Written by Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell,
Armando Iannucci, Ian Martin and Tony Roche
Based on BBC TV’s The Thick of It
Directed by Armando Iannucci
With Peter Capaldi, Tom Hollander, Gina McKee, James Gandolfini, Chris Addison and Anna Chlumsky


About the Author ()

Uther was one of the two arts editors in 2009. He was the horoscopier and theatre writer in 2010. Alongside Elle Hunt, Uther was coeditor in 2011.

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