Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Review: In the Loop

“In the Loop” is an exhilaratingly fast-talking movie. The only movies that really compare were made over seventy years ago and starred people like Cary Grant, Irene Dunne, and Katherine Hepburn. I’m talking dialog that’s not only fast, but also non-stop funny.

I’m not, mind you, whole-heartedly recommending “In the Loop” to all of you fans of “The Awful Truth” and “Bringing up Baby” though – there is a caveat. And I will just come out and say it: This 2009 British comedy is flat out foul-mouthed and raunchy. It’s funny foul-mouthed, but raunchy all the same.

I wanted to pepper this review with tastes of the dialog, not enough to spoil anything, but just enough to either make you giggle or gasp. I wanted to help you decide if it’s likely to be your cup of tea. But, dang it, the funniest lines are also the most outrageously and creatively colorful. I’ll just share this bit:

“…this wall story is playing badly. There's a cartoon of you in here as a walrus.”
“A walrus? I'm not fat, I don't even have a moustache. They've given me tusks.”
“Wall-rus. You get it? Wall-rus, wall-rus.”
“We called some builders. They didn't turn up when they said they would.”
“What did you expect? They're builders! Have you ever seen a film where the hero is a builder? No, no, because they never turn up in the nick of time. Bat-builder? Spider-builder? Huh? That's why you never see a superhero with a hod!”

That exchange communicates both the movie’s pleasures offered and challenges posed. It’s funny, clever stuff. It reminds me of Kevin Smith in its joy of pop culture. But it’s also very British. What’s a “hod?” (Okay, I admit to using the closed captions to even know what the word was.)

The movie focuses on departments of state in London and across the ocean in Washington, D.C. as characters and insults fly back and forth. Simon Foster, the “Wall-rus” of the exchange above is a British Secretary of State and it’s his slip of the tongue that gets his department in diplomatic hot water.

The United States is lining up allies for an invasion of an unnamed Middle-Eastern country and Foster’s over-the-radio comments that a war is “unforeseeable” sends the Prime Minister and his master spin-doctor Malcolm Tucker – the ripe source of most of the profanity – into damage-control overdrive.

What ensues is a manic, crazy, and yet perfectly controlled dark comedy, something like “Dr. Strangelove” meets television’s “The Office.” The tone reminded me of the latter. This of the former: “Twelve thousand troops. But that's not enough. That's the amount that are going to die. And at the end of a war you need some soldiers left, really, or else it looks like you've lost.”

At the heart of it all though – for me at least – is what gets ignored as Foster is forced to run about playing war planning games. His people in London have real issues and it’s his job to help solve them. A woman has a real smelly problem with her septic tank and another man is angry that a wall is about to collapse and crush his mother in her garden.

It’s always the “little” things that get neglected by a war effort.

“In the Loop” has not been rated by the MPAA. It’s a witty, fast-talking movie though that is filled with some very colorful and creative profanity. It will screen at the Grand Theatres on Thursday, Feb. 3 at 3:00 and 5:30 as part of the Cinema 100 series. Tickets are available at the door.

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