Wednesday, December 23, 2009

In The Loop: Grade C

In the Loop (2009)

Peter Capaldi, Tom Hollander, Gina McKee, Mimi Kennedy, James Gandolfini, Chris Addison, Anna Chlumsky; Director Armando Iannucci.

This British comedy is like The Office set in Number 10 Downing Street instead of in a commercial establishment . Maybe a cross between The Office and the BBC series, Yes, Minister is a good description. Clueless mid-level managers frenetically strut their self-importance, vie for ephemeral recognition, lord it over their staff, who are by turn ambitious, idealistic, naive, and cynical. No characters are developed. The style is not the mockumentary style of The Office but the sitcom feel is unmistakable. It is a movie adaptation of a television series (which I’ve never seen), and that’s how it plays.

The basic story is that the U.S. President and the British Prime Minister are set on invading Iraq, and within the government staff on both sides of the Atlantic there are factions supportive of that decision and those ardently opposed. Facts are manipulated, reports are doctored, committee meetings are held in secret, and other shenanigans are executed as each faction tries to facilitate or obstruct the political trend. That’s all good political fodder, but this is a comedy, not a serious movie about the decision to go to war.

As a comedy, it is successful, especially if you like British humor. However, any sitcom is only amusing for 20 minutes, so 90 minutes of clever one-liners, creative profanity, snappy comebacks, snide remarks, and witty zingers wears you down. Real people are not that funny, so the verbal deluge of wit is a writerly conceit that gets in the way of the story, except the story is only perfunctory, and I lost track of it, characters’ motivations, and even their names. Despite the film's failings however, there are laughs to be had.

No comments:

Post a Comment