In the Loop

Release Date: July 24, 2009
Limited release

Movie of the Day for Thursday, July 23, 2009
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Who made Tony Soprano a general?

On the Big Board
Position Staff In Brief
7/38 John Seal The funniest and most depressing film of 2009
25/82 Kelly Metz Bizarre at times, but very funny. (Nice to see Anna Chlumsky again.)
39/169 Max Braden This was one tone-step away from being a Sorkin sitcom. Oddly funny, but a small of your brain wonders what you're watching.

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In the Loop has the feel of one of those mis-matched political satires, a thematic successor to the undeservedly-obscure studio film American Dreamz (2006) or the somewhat-apocalyptic War, Inc. (2008), which made nary a blimp on the box office radar last summer.

If you've been reading carefully so far, you may know where I'm going with this: Political satire doesn't sell. For every Wag the Dog, which grossed a fair-for-1997 $43 million, you've got your Bulworths (1998; $26 million), your Man of the Years (2006; $37 million), and your Bob Roberts-es (1992; $4 million). And I'm not even getting into Buffalo Soldiers.

In the Loop is a British film, about the various misadventures called upon when the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of England plan to go to war in the Middle East (again?). It looks like neither the Pres. or the P.M. actually appear in the film, and we are left with the exploits of characters like an American Lieutenant General (James Gandolfini), a British press co-ordinator (Peter Capaldi) and a Cabinet Minister (Tom Hollander). An amusing parody of a certain "Hope" poster has been touted in the marketing for this film, and that might get it a little stateside attention. The film also happens to be a spin-off from The Thick of It, an eight-episode English TV series that was unsuccessfully optioned for American adaptation. For some theatrical sheen, the cast's been expanded from the show to include former child star Anna Chlumsky (My Girl), comedian Steve Coogan, and the slightly sourpussed Gandolfini, turning in another well-reviewed character role.

Speaking of reviews, this one's got a stunning 97% on Rotten Tomatoes. It's amassed a middling 1.8 million British pounds during its April 2009 release across the pond. But to be frank: Almost certainly, that's not going to matter. IFC Films, which is handling the U.S. release, is basically a distributor of very small films that don't often get much past playing in 30 or so theaters, and this one's not going to be any different. Still, unless the British critics are incredibly off on this one, it may be a fairly good film; worth seeking out, especially if you nodded with a smile of recognition as I read off the laundry list of movies above. (Michael Lynderey/BOP)

Vital statistics for In the Loop
Main Cast Tom Hollander, James Gandolfini, Anna Chlumsky
Supporting Cast Steve Coogan, Chris Addison, Peter Capaldi, Paul Higgins
Director Armando Iannucci
Screenwriter Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, Tony Roche
Distributor IFC Films
Screen Count 8
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture



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