Usually a comedy with more than a couple of writers suggests once of those that have required extensive rewriting and extra fart gags just to fill the naff joke quota. But In The Loop’s writing team is an obscure-comedy fan’s wet dream, featuring those involved with genius like Partridge (Armando Iannucci – also the director of In the Loop), Peep Show (Jesse Armstrong), The Armstrong & Miller Show (Simon Blackwell), and the TV-parent of this film The Thick Of It (Ian Martin & Tony Roche, as well as everyone else already mentioned).
Such writing delights make for a dialogue-snappy film, sparkling with diamond-sharp insults and eloquent put-downs dripping in sarcasm (the “willy-banjo” a particular favourite). The plot is at first sprawling, with various characters colliding with each other in a seemingly directionless manner, until the plot threads are suddenly and swiftly tied together in a blunt and bold attack on one of the biggest government lies in the last decade.
The characters are too numerous to go through, but the big favourite has to be Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi), a Scottish powerhouse of cunning anger and superfluous swearing, dodging the simple “angry sweary man” label through some excellent acting from Capaldi when we spy a few cracks in his tough hide. The rest of the cast are equally excellent and each get their turn to shine, including James Soprano, sorry, Gandolfini, who has the best angry-breathing ever.
With Iannucci’s laid-back direction and unfolding plot development, In the Loop feels more like a feature-length BBC3 comedy than a multiplex dweller, but compared to the rest of mostly tosh out in the cinema at the moment, there’s no harm in watching a TV comedy on a massive screen surrounded by strangers. Funny, sharp, intelligent and ever so slightly depressing, In the Loop is a proud example of Britain’s writing talent, and a withering reminder of how crap politics can be. It easily makes a CF2.