The US President and UK Prime Minister fancy a war. But not everyone agrees that war is a good thing. The US General Miller doesn't think so and neither does the British Secretary of State for International Development, Simon Foster. But, after Simon accidentally backs military action on TV, he suddenly has a lot of friends in Washington, DC. If Simon can get in with the right DC people, if his entourage of one can sleep with the right intern, and if they can both stop the Prime Minister's chief spin-doctor Malcolm Tucker rigging the vote at the UN, they can halt the war. If they don't... well, they can always sack their Director of Communications Judy, who they never liked anyway and who's back home dealing with voters with blocked drains and a man who's angry about a collapsing wall. Written by
Loop Film Productions Ltd/AT
Armando Iannucci is well known for asking his actors to improvise their scenes around the script, and edits out the best for later. In one such improvised scene, James Gandolfini became angry enough to make Peter Capaldi drop out of character (he thought Gandolfini would "physically pummel me") and he asked the writers to script him a better come back. See more »
While Malcolm Tucker might consider "climb the mountain of conflict" would be something a "Nazi Julie Andrews" might say, it was Marjorie McKay (ghosting for Peggy Wood, who played the Mother Abbess) and not Julie Andrews who sang "Climb Ev'ry Mountain" in The Sound of Music. See more »
The film's final credits roll over a long shot of the main office. At the very end, Malcolm Tucker comes out, looks at the TV and asks, "Who let this woman out with her fucking hair like this?! On national television?! Looks like she stuck her finger in a fucking electrical socket..." before walking away. See more »
Greetings again from the darkness. A spin-off of the British series The Thick of it, this film comes across as an odd mixture of Dr Strangelove, Spinal Tap, The Office ... think Christopher Guest remakes The West Wing. There are some incredibly funny lines and therein lies the films only problem.
What prevents the film from being truly great is that the comedy lines are so well written (and acted) that the story itself is shoved aside. Kind of a shame because I love the basis for the story. Combining the politics of both the U.S. and England and weaving their process and decision making into one film ... and then backdropping the decision on whether to go to war, is ingenious and fascinating. But as I said, the story takes a real backseat and many viewers will pay scant attention to the entire war theme. Watching politicians negotiate for power and struggle with quotable (yet meaningless) phrases is a hoot. And the posturing is not limited to the power brokers, as we see their assistants are playing the same game ... just with less at stake.
Ultimately the film works as an aggressive, loud, foul mouthed quote fest and not so much as the political editorial it could/should have been. Peter Capaldi dominates the film as the spin doctor who uses intimidation to mask his schemes. Tom Hollander would have been the soul of the film, if it were better developed as a story. All will recognize him from Pirates of Caribbean. James Gandolfini, Mimi Kennedy, David Rasche and James Gandolfini provide the U.S. contingency that are deflatingly realistic and make us so "proud". Don't miss a funny turn by the great Steve Coogan as the poor citizen who just wants his mum's retaining wall repaired so it doesn't crush her in the greenhouse. While certainly not woven seamlessly into the film, it does provide a shot of realism for what Hollander's character would face.
Lastly, it is very nice to see Anna Chlumsky back on screen. An immediate child star in My Girl ... remember her kiss with Maculey Culkin? Ms. Chlumsky is now a mature presence and should definitely be a consistent actress for years to come.
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