BP Quick Hitter: In the Loop (2009)

Malcolm Tucker: Right. Was it you?
Simon Foster: No, it wasn’t. No. What?
Malcolm Tucker: You do know what I’m talking about, don’t you?
Simon Foster: No. And… And… whatever it was, I almost certainly didn’t do it.
Malcolm Tucker: Was it you, the baby from Eraserhead?
Toby Wright: No, no.
Malcolm Tucker: Then it must have been you, the woman from The Crying Game.
Judy: It wasn’t me

(from Imbd)

I don’t know if it’s because I work in Washington, or because I like well-done satire, or because I believe cursing is, indeed, an art form (especially in D.C. traffic), but I can’t remember the last time I laughed as often watching a movie.

Like the near-constant streams of profanity emitted from the mouth of British government flack Malcolm Tucker, I couldn’t stop smiling though this entire film, as the dialogue grew faster and faster and yes, meaner and meaner.  Whether you like depends on your tolerance for high-velocity verbal assault and whether you think calling someone a “Nazi Julie Andrews” is funny.

In the Loop is merciless. It’s is the movie that Burn After Reading (2008) should have been.

The key difference is that while the Coens specialize in caricatures of people, the British and U.S. officials in this film come off as real people, exceptionally so, in fact. This may be the closest that a political satire has come to reflecting real life, with perhaps just five percent of absurdity added.

That makes it unlike more famous satires such as Dr. Strangelove (1964) or any of the films by Christopher Guest. The verisimilitude is aided by the employment of documentary-style shaky cams, in the manner of “The Office,” which makes sense given that it’s an also an offshot of a British TV programme. (Had to spell that way, hack that I am.)

It also adroitly outlines the difference between U.S. and British pols. Americans undermine you behind your back. The Brits do it in front of you, with full disclosure. The films also pulls no punches with its equal-opportunity dim view of hawks and doves, and with its allusions to the runup to the Iraq War.

Really, In the Loop isn’t a film to be reviewed as much as it is one to be quoted, except that most of the language is NSFW even though the film ruthlessly portrays those with the some of the most powerful jobs in the world.

(One scene, in which a Pentagon general played by James Gandolfini tries to explain troop levels to a State Department official played by Mimi Kennedy using a children’s play computer is mad genius.)

And it includes a Bugsy Malone reference, a forgotten film that I am pretty sure I saw in a real theater.

Hell, I’m just going to run out some more quotes, ripped completely out of context:

Chad: Liza? Everyone is so hot for this paper, I just wanted to let you know. I’m about to run off another ten copies.
Liza Weld: Just stop.
Chad: It’s like a Harry Potter book, if Harry Potter made people really, really angry. You’re in hot water, you’re lobsterising. Do you smell lobster? Because I smell lobster. Strong… bisque wafting this way.
Liza Weld: How far would you go with Linton, you freaky little stalker? Downtown? Or all the way up Brokeback Mountain?
Chad: Smells like bisque.
Liza Weld: Smells like bisque?
Chad: Smells like bisque.


Simon Foster: Tobes, I don’t want to have to read you the riot act but I am going to have to read you some extracts from the riot act, like section one, paragraph one: don’t leave your boss twisting in the wind and then burst in late, smelling like a pissed seaside donkey.
Toby Wright: Look, alright, I was late for the meeting, Simon, I am sorry, but it’s not like I threw up in there, is it?
Simon Foster: No, you’re right, I’m being unfair. I should be thanking you for not throwing up. Well done, you’re a star. You didn’t wet yourself, did you? You’re in the right city. You didn’t say anything overtly racist. You didn’t pull your cock out and start plucking it and shouting “Willy Banjo”. No, I’m being really unfair. You’d got so much right, without actually being there in the beginning of one of the most important moments of my career. Thanks, you’re a legend.


Malcolm Tucker: “Climbing the mountain of conflict”? You sounded like a Nazi Julie Andrews!


Judy: You know they’re all kids in Washington? It’s like Bugsy Malone, but with real guns.


Linton Barwick: Well, I don’t want to be accused of micro-managing, but I cannot understand why “I Heart Huckabees” is on a list of DVDs considered suitable for armed-forces entertainment. That self-indulgent crap is not suitable for combat troops.


Linton Barwick: My golly, I can’t see why anyone would choose to work in a glass office, huh? Glass offices, in my opinion, are for perverts.
Bob Adriano: I could request the glass be frosted.
Linton Barwick: Frosting is on cakes, huh? Now, what else happened in London?
Bob Adriano: Ah, generally positive, two glitches…
Linton Barwick: Really, what?
Bob Adriano: Karen flagged a report by one of her staffers. She’s obviously trying to use it as some kind of roadblock. It’s called PWIP PIP.
Linton Barwick: PWIP what?
Bob Adriano: PWIP PIP.
Linton Barwick: What is it, a report on bird calls? What does it even stand for?
Bob Adriano: I can’t recall. It’s factish. Intel for and against intervention.
Linton Barwick: We have all the facts on this we need. We don’t need any more facts. In the land of truth, my friend, the man with one fact is the king. You said there was something else, what is that?
Bob Adriano: In the meeting with the Foreign Office, the committee was accidentally and briefly alluded to.
Linton Barwick: Which committee?
Bob Adriano: The…
Bob Adriano: The war committee, sir.
Linton Barwick: All right, Karen is not to know about this, huh? She is an excitable, yapping she-dog. Get a hold of those minutes. I have to correct the record.
Bob Adriano: We can do that?
Linton Barwick: Yes, we can. Those minutes are an aide-memoire for us. They should not be a reductive record of what happened to have been said, but they should be more a full record of what was intended to have been said. I think that’s the more accurate version, don’t you?

Thanks again to imdb. (Love the sight, hate the redesign. Fuckety-bye-bye!)


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