In the Loop
Watch "Doctor Who"'s Peter Capaldi and James Gandolfini insult the s— out of each other in the 2009 war comedy "In the Loop." Credit: IFC Films

So, the world just got worse! As you heard last night, the Trump administration has fired missiles at Syria. If we had a different, thoughtful, sane president, that could be a noble act intended to save a beleaguered people. But when the Commander in Chief is the guy who possibly thought Frederick Douglass was still alive, it’s no wonder many are freaking out that it might trigger a belated World War 3.

Revisiting episodes of “Veep” has gotten us through some tough times these last several months. (Remember the Season 4 closer when the presidential election ended in an Electoral College tie? Good times.) But for this we need some harder stuff. We need “In the Loop.” It’s the movie that essentially birthed “Veep” and the funniest war satire since “Dr. Strangelove.” And luckily it’s been living on Netflix Instant for years.

Released in 2009 — back when we all lived in an Obama-ruled paradise and was just something your crazy, divorced uncle-thrice-removed knew existed — it was a spin-off of “The Thick of It,” a brilliant government comedy that was a lot like “Veep,” but with somehow even better cursing. (Both shows keep a “swearing consultant,” one Ian Martin, on staff to punch up the insults.) “In the Loop” isn’t canonical, but it does feature most of the "Thick of It"-ers, plus some American ringers, including James Gandolfini. It was an instant classic, and it wasn’t long before the "Thick of It" crew — and some of "Loop"'s actors, like Anna Chlumsky — regrouped for “Veep,” doing for America what they had done for England.

But even the best episode of “Veep” can’t touch “In the Loop.” (Nor, for that matter, can i ttouch “The Thick of It,” which you can binge on Hulu.) The plot has a bumbling, lowly English minister (Tom Hollander) inadvertently getting involved in the chaotic push between British and American forces to start a tussle in a never-ID’d Middle Eastern country. In other words, it’s probably not that different from how the expensive craptacular that was the Iraq War began.


Scary as “In the Loop” is, it’s even better as a laugh factory. It’s like one of those fast-acting water sprinklers, only it shoots one-liners and peerless profanity. The only character that carries over from “The Thick of It” is Malcolm Tucker, the UK side’s infamously aggressive spin doctor. Played by current “Doctor Who” honcho Peter Capaldi, he’s like a robot that insults people and howls about “ass-spraying mayhem” and “lubricated horsec—ks.” When he finally gets to square off against Gandolfini’s dove-ish general, it’s a match made in heaven.

“In the Loop” won’t make the world better, but it will make you feel better. At least these government trolls won’t actually destroy the world. And unlike today's leaders, they're not stupid. After all, they have the wit to insult one cuddly-looking young British character by calling him “Love Actually.”

Follow Matt Prigge on Twitter @mattprigge

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