KPBS film critic Beth Accomando discusses "In the Loop"
Related Story: In the Loop
KPBS Film Chat: In the Loop
By Beth Accomando
Air Date: July 30, 2009
Q: If armed guinea pigs and romantic comedies are not to your liking, KPBS Film Critic Beth Accomando has a political comedy from Britain to recommend. The film “In the Loop” has been described as “The West Wing” meets “The Office,” is that a fair assessment of this comedy?
BETH: Yes. It’s done in a faux documentary style with deadpan humor and replaces the office setting with that of international politics. The plot essentially hinges on a single word that Simon Foster, Britain’s Secretary of State for International Development lets slip one day during an interview in the months just before the U.S. invaded Iraq. But of course specifics like Iraq are never mentioned, it’s just “the War” or “the invasion.”
CLIP 50001_FilmChat_Loop1 – “unforeseeable”
Q: So what happens after this verbal slip?
BETH: All political hell breaks loose. The director of communication goes on spin control, a U.S. official tries to seize the moment for her anti-war cause, and Foster’s just trying to save his career. This is the kind of savvy political comedy that we haven’t seen since The Candidate and Altman’s Tanner ’88. It’s funny, sharply written, and pointed in its commentary about the people at the top who are making decisions that affect the world. This is not sitcom style joke but something mach smarter and with a purpose. The use of language here is just a delight, and wicked fun. Listen to how this conversation between two American aides turns.
Q: Sounds like this is a film where words are like weapons and events can hinge on the turn of a phrase. Who’s responsible for creating this satire?
BETH: It’s Armando Iannucci who was also responsible for the BritComs Alan Patridge and The Thick of It. He’s done a lot of television but this marks his feature film debut. He makes the transition well, delivering a film that moves fast, creates a gallery of hilarious characters, and skewers those at the top. He gives us politicians who are so worried about their careers and one upping their opponent that they have completely lost sight of serving the people or pursuing any higher ideals. As we see our California legislature struggle with the budget, this film allows us to laugh at the horrible mess politicians sometimes get themselves and all of us in. The film pokes wicked fun at the absurdity and ineptitude of our highest leaders.
In the Loop opens Friday at Landmark’s Hillcrest and La Jolla Village Cinemas. You can find more of Beth’s reviews as well as videos of this year’s Comic-Con at K-P-B-S-dot-O-R-G-slash-cinema-junkie.