In fact were it not for the profane thoughtless and bullheaded antics of spin doctor extraordinaire Malcolm Tucker you could quite easily file In the Loop away alongside other similarly forgettable efforts such as Wag the Dog and Thank You for Smoking (which was at least funny).
There are many characters popping in and out of proceedings in this film, but the core of the plot follows the hapless Simon Foster, a gormless, diminutive, but well meaning MP who has unfortunate character traits that can be summed up most succinctly by stating he is ‘out of his depth’. You could also call him an idiot.
Foster wants to make a difference. His party just wants him not to mess up. A small army of co-ordinators, interview coaches and junior staff rely on him laying low and staying out of harm’s way. When all this fails, enter Malcolm Tucker.
Tucker polices both the behaviour and statements of members of his party and their treatment in the media. He is not above using bullying, threats and blackmail to get his point across, and the acronym PC means nothing to Malcolm – or perhaps something decidedly un-PC to you and I…
Malcolm is especially merciless to Foster, but then he seems merciless to anyone really. But when Foster makes a clumsy off-handed comment about the ‘war’, which he deems non-committal and vague Malcolm nearly leaps down his throat in anger. This sets in motion a chain of events that takes Foster and his rookie assistant Toby from the United Kingdom to the United States and back again. In the US they are even more out of their depth, but it matters little as no-one acknowledges their existence in any meaningful way on either continent.
In the Loop features scene after scene of snappy dialogue, snide remarks and mean spirited behaviour, occasionally punctuated by short bursts of profanity. Unfortunately it is all too transparently the dialogue and actions crafted by a bunch of writers sitting around thinking ‘gee wouldn’t it be funny if this guy/gal said/did this/that?’ Despite the fact that he/she never would/did/will.
Amazingly enough the abrasive and aggressive Malcolm Tucker stands alone as an island amid the fake and insincere. Sure his tirades could rip the paint off the walls and a click of his fingers ends careers, but in the snide and smarmy world of international politics it seems rare that anyone shows their true nature.
Malcolm Tucker is a prick who likes things his way. And he could give a fuck if you know it.
My reaction to the characters of In the Loop is the same as it is to any of the American Pie films that I have been unfortunate enough to watch; if you are a reprehensible character then you better prove yourself watchable in other ways. At least be interesting or amusing.
Malcolm Tucker aside the cast of In the Loop obviously didn’t get that particular memo…
To me this is just a bunch of people I don’t really like doing things that aren’t particularly interesting and spouting dialogue that isn’t especially amusing.
Final Rating – 6 / 10. If people wearing suits and occupying positions of power swearing and acting mean is your go by all means have at this. Just know that for every insightful speck of truth there are a dozen moments that are as fake as Jessica Simpson’s face – and personality for that matter.