In The Loop… a funny movie! Yay!

I’m sitting here rewatching a movie I watched last night. IN THE LOOP, a British political farce that was made this year. It’s hilarious. Watching it the second time, now that I know the plot, it’s even more interesting. With my tiny pea brain, I can follow it!

It’s chaotic and confusing and really, really funny. I wonder how the hell they got anybody to understand what the hell they were planning to do — without actually making the movie. It’s so jumpy / cutty that I can’t see how it would be understandable on paper. Certainly it would be impossible to pitch.

It’s based on a television series, so they did have some precedent. Makes it easier.

It’s an ensemble film. Lots of people cross-cutting and then it jumps from London to Washington and New York. Then more people show up. And it gets more complex and moves faster.

What’s great about it, among other things, is how each character’s dialogue is so separate from everyone else’s. The characters are distinct, WILDLY different from each other, and I bet it is right there on the page.

Also, the characters are people we have not seen before. Especially the foul mouthed character played by Peter Capaldi. Whoa! Can that guy cuss! In fact, everybody is wholly distinct, separate from everybody else. Even the small characters are cool, funny, distinct and (drum roll) different from any character we’ve seen before. This is NOTHING like the folks on West Wing!

The tiny details in the scenes are really great. Getting in and out of most of the scenes is a tiny bit, like being unable to pay a hotel porter more than two one dollar bills… and the level of gentle absurdity is pretty high. A Pentagon general and a woman assistant secretary of state are at a party and want to talk in private, so they go upstairs to the kid’s room and have their high level discussion sitting on the edge of the bed… and need to add some military figures, and use the child’s calculator to calculate troop strength… and it makes silly noises when they punch in the numbers. It’s HILARIOUS.

Someone was definitely on the ball.

Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, Oscar season has begun, and as I (as a member of the Writers Guild of America) get to go to the movies for free, I’ll be seeing lots of movies between now and Oscar night. Perhaps you will benefit from what I discover in the dark rooms of a movie theater near me.

I love, love love just adore going to the movies for free!

Signed, Eloise Akers



Filed under character, Scenes, Screenwriting, Writing Process

8 responses to “In The Loop… a funny movie! Yay!

  1. According to the creator, Armando Ianucci, it was indeed a very tricky projct to pitch. The process of making the film involved a lot of workshopping with the actors, and filming vastly more footage than could ever be used, before editing down to 100 minutes. The way they got the money was basically by pointing to the TV series, “The Thick of It”, and saying “This is how we work, this is what the outcome is like, trust us.” Unconventional, but Ianucci is highly respected in the UK with a very impressive record in comedy, so he’s earned a bit of trust.

    And if you liked “In The Loop”, I strongly recommend “The Thick of It”, if you can get the DVD box sets (or even YouTube). Seriously funny – and Malcolm Tucker (and his sidekick Jamie) are even more foulmouthed and aggressive than in the movie.

    • yourscreenplaysucks

      Very cool! Thank you! That is what I suspected. I’m nearly done with the second viewing and this time, of course, it all makes perfect sense. Thanks, Iain.

  2. Jeff Goldsmith, of Creative Screenwriting magazine, has made a wonderful Q+A podcast with Ianucci. It offers incredible insight into the creative process, including examples of how they would shoot scenes strictly according to the script and then allow the actors to improv the same scene again with the cameras rolling.

    Fascinating, inspiring stuff!

    Catch the podcast at:

    • yourscreenplaysucks

      You are now my favorite human on the planet. Thank you! I haven’t watched a movie two days in a row in a LONG time. Last time I can remember doing that was with LES UNS ET LES AUTRES, a Lelouch film, which I saw two days in a row in the Champs Elysees. Thank you Jeff, for helping keep the zany IN THE LOOP mood going… even as my turkey is beginning to run out…

  3. Tirthankar Patnaik

    ‘In the Loop’ ought to be in-line for the best screenplay in most awards, saw it last week, and was bowled over by the sheer pace and disorder of the movie, just as you’ve pointed out. Loved the non-stop swearing by the Malcolm Tucker character (Peter Capaldi), and Simon Foster’s stunning ‘tit’ portrayal. Passed the message on fellow anglophiles in my group the next day.

    Given the responses by Mr. Blair’s testimony on the Iraq war recently, the topicality of the movie becomes more apparent!

    As one reader has suggested, ‘The Thick of it’ is a must-see now.

    • yourscreenplaysucks

      Ain’t it great! Glad I had a positive effect on someone’s life. “The Thick Of It” is wonderful too, but very different.

  4. elaine

    On the strength of your recommendation I just watched it. I *loved* it too, although I can imagine it’s tough going for non-Brits. The humour is very British and the pace blindingly fast, even for a native speaker.

    I’ll let you into a secret, I used to work there, and it’s clear to me that an insider played a major part in the writing of this. All this stuff really happens.

    • yourscreenplaysucks

      Glad you liked it! The fact that you know that world well makes it an even better movie, since you feel like they nailed it. Cool.

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