MPI // 2009 // 106 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Eric Profancik (Retired) // January 12th, 2010
The Fate of the World is on the Line
I don't feel smart enough for this movie. What I got out of it doesn't quite mesh with what I'm seeing and reading about it. Perhaps another viewing would help? It most likely would. Then again, I think I am smart enough but I also think I took the movie far too seriously. In the vein of Dr. Strangelove, In the Loop is a satire on government. Yet it feels so real and plausible, I forgot the farce.
Minster for International Development, Simon Foster (Tom Hollander, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest), states during a radio interview that a war in the Middle East in "unforeseeable." This doesn't follow the British government's "line" on events. Simon soon digs himself into a deeper hole with his government, but a few people in the American government feel they can use him as a poster boy for the anti-war movement. Traveling back and forth between Britain and the United States, Simon finds himself in the loop and way over his head.
I used to take copious notes as I watched movies, but that's changed so that I usually just take notes on the bonus features. My notebook is still nearby and when I finished In the Loop I wanted to write down my thoughts. But I couldn't come up with anything coherent at the moment. Instead, a bunch of adjectives came tumbling from my pen: mesmerizing, stressful, intriguing, frantic, hectic, insightful, angry, and crazy. Notice the lack of anything relating to comedy. I didn't find this movie funny, but I enjoyed it.
After the fact, I realize how this movie is a satire on government. During the movie, as a result of the past decade of political ineptness in this country, I find it hard to find humor in politics. Reality is such a drag with our two part system more interested in personal gain and propaganda than true benefit and reform for the country. Add to that the muck of this war on terrorism, and I have to ask when is politics fun or funny? With the weight of reality bearing upon me, I took In the Loop far more seriously than intended. Though I don't see it as a pure comedy, it still works for me as a drama. What also probably didn't help me was that I am unfamiliar with director Armando Iannucci's work on The Thick of It, for I've read that this movie is a "spin-off" of the series, maintaining its tone and structure.
In the Loop works because it has a smart script, lightning quick repartee, and great acting. That's what you need in a movie, and this one is chock full of the stuff. I enjoyed the man getting in way over his head, getting beat down by his superiors, and manipulated by everyone else. I enjoyed everyone's performance from top to bottom -- including the intern trying to brown nose the boss. It's witty, fresh, inventive, and right on point. It made me think. It may make you laugh.
This DVD is a basic, no frills release. Video is a 1.85:1 anamorphic print that looks better farther away than up close. From my couch I was pleased with the natural, accurate colors, rich blacks, and ample level of detail. But when I went in for a closer look, I noticed quite a bit of a haloing around everything (especially people) and a ton of mosquito noise. To the casual viewer on an average sized TV, this is negligible; but it'll become more apparent to those with better and larger sets. Audio is a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix; and as this is a dialogue-intensive movie, just about everything is front loaded. I detected no hiss or distortion from speakers and felt the track supplemented the film well.
Bonus features are not numerous. In the order they're listed in the menu, you have the trailer, deleted scenes (28:09), a TV spot, and a behind-the-scenes featurette (3:17). The featurette is boiler-plate, commercial-filler level material that was most likely aired on IFC. The meat of the bonus is obviously in the nearly half hour of deleted scenes. As I watched them I had a hard time keeping up. There are no breaks, no pauses for you to figure out where they belong. It comes out you too fast. Still, for big fans of the movie, they'll enjoy the extra content.
I'm sure I'll get a lot of static for glossing over the plot, the comedy, and everything else; but let me take a last moment to give some special props to James Gandolfini and Peter Capaldi. Both of these men are fantastic in their parts -- Gandolfini as the conflicted and troubled general and Capaldi as the foul-mouthed bully.
And that brings up another interesting point: the language. In the Loop is filled with all manner of colorful metaphors and adult verbiage. In fact, it's the defining characteristic of Capaldi's character; and let's say that he gets very creative in his insults. This vulgar language never offended me, never felt like the only thrust of the movie, and was the only moments of levity for me.
I enjoyed In the Loop for all the wrong reasons, but as long as I liked it does it matter what the reasons are? Despite my appreciation for the movie, I'm only going to give it a rental recommendation. There doesn't seem to be enough about the disc to warrant a purchase, and I think the material will quickly date itself.
In the Loop is found guilty of keeping this reviewer out of the
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Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 106 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Deleted Scenes
* TV Spot