In the Loop (Iannucci, 2009)

Yeah, I’m not going to include any of Peter Capaldi’s Malcolm Tucker quotes and quips because a) you’ve probably heard most of them by now and b) I don’t want to spoil the experience for first-time viewers, especially those unfamiliar with the character. Hearing them for the first time is akin to seeing the Holy Grail, and holy shit, if this isn’t Capaldi’s film, I don’t know what is. Most know him now for being the current iteration of Doctor Who, and now I know why he was chosen for the role in the first place: the man can be a towering screen presence when he wants to be. Here, he snarls out winning one-liners as though he’s been doing it for years and years (and, to a certain extent, he had been—his character is taken from a BBC show called The Thick of It, of which this film is a spinoff).

If you’re not here for Capaldi, then there’s still a ton to like about In the Loop Fans of Veep will especially adore seeing Armando Iannucci in his element (the first season of Veep aired three years after this film), while those who admire political satires in general will greedily eat up what this one has to serve. To me, it was a bit like Dr. Strangelove mixed in with the American, Steve Carell-led version of The Office: a lot of situational comedy involving dunderheads in high places, combined with some random, off-the-cuff shtick that ends up meshing really well with its surroundings. Alas, it does putter out in the end, and one can get whiplash from how quickly opinions are changed and plans are rerouted, as though on a whim. Stick with it, though, because the laughs come at a constant pace, and the end result is extremely satisfying.