IN THE LOOP * * * * *
Cert 15, 105 mins
The furore over the e-mail smear campaign to spread rumours about top Tories is only just beginning to die down.
Which means this is the perfect time to release a film about the murky world of political spin. The only flaw in Armando Iannucci’s sharp script is that it is hard to satirise events which are, in reality, so ludicrous.
In The Loop is, essentially, the big-screen version of the award-winning BBC series The Thick Of It. There is some Hollywood gloss to it – the action mainly takes place in Washington DC and a heavyweight addition to the cast is Sopranos star James Gandolfini – but the essence of the British TV drama remains, and especially its brilliant star.
Peter Capaldi is Malcolm Tucker, a Downing Street director of communications who isn’t a bit like Alistair Campbell, honestly. He is a bullying spin doctor who harangues politicians who don’t toe the line. The latest is Minister of International Development, Simon Foster (Tom Hollander), nicknamed Fluster, who inadvertently says in an interview that war is unforeseeable.
In an effort to dig himself out of his mess, he comes out with lines like: “To walk the road of peace, sometimes you need to be able to climb the mountain of conflict.” To which Tucker replies: “You sound like a Nazi Julie Andrews.”
Most of Tucker’s lines are unrepeatable as they are littered with swear words.
Normally that might get on my nerves, but they are so inventively used that I couldn’t help laughing, frequently and out loud. One of Tucker’s targets is Toby, played by Chris Addison, the bumbling aide who was called Ollie in The Thick of It.
Toby is despatched to Washington with Foster, who has become a hapless pawn in the plans of General Miller (Gandolfini) and Assistant Secretary of Diplomacy Karen Clarke (Mimi Kennedy) in their efforts to stop a war with an unnamed Middle Eastern country.
Toby is too excited to be in America – and reunited with old flame Liza (Anna Chlumsky) – to be much good in a crisis. The one person who does their job well, Foster’s director of communications Judy (Gina McKee), is back in London trying to deal with angry constituent Steve Coogan and his collapsing wall.
In The Loop is like a modern version of Yes, Minister, only with a lot more swearing.
This is a world where the minutes of a meeting are changed to suit you.
It’s highly topical. Jacqui Smith might wince at a line about being scared to watch porn in case it ends up in the register of members’ interests. And there’s a reference to a man who wants to stop people talking in a foreign language in shops.
If you don’t like dialogue-heavy films – or ones with bad language – you might not like this.But my advice is to watch this hilarious, intelligent movie. And that’s not spin.
I LOVE YOU, MAN * * * *
Cert 15, 104 mins
When likable estate agent Pete Klaven (Paul Rudd) asks his girlfriend Zooey (Rashida Jones) to marry him, she is thrilled.
She immediately calls all her female friends to pass on the good news – but Pete realises he has no one to ring. He has invested all of his time in romantic relationships and has no close friends, or even anyone to ask to be best man.
He sets out to find platonic male company and discovers it is much more difficult than meeting women. He has to negotiate a new world of man dates, where he is expected to pursue macho activities such as poker and drinking.
Then, while trying to sell the home of Lou Ferrigno of Incredible Hulk fame, he meets Sydney (Jason Segel). The pair hit it off and embark on a rather touching “bromance”.
This is essentially a chick flick for blokes, which obeys most of the normal rules of a romcom. A love triangle develops between Pete, Sydney and Zooey, and the hurdle which must be overcome before a happy ending involves Zooey complaining that she is losing her fiancé to another man.
It is predictable but enjoyable, with plenty of funny lines. The humour is a little crude at times, but this would make a great date movie. Especially if that’s a man date.
CRANK: HIGH VOLTAGE * *
Cert 18, 95 mins
This sequel requires you not so much to suspend your disbelief as throw it out of the window.
The first film saw assassin Chev Chelios (Jason Statham) being injected with a lethal Chinese poison which slowed down his heart.
We last saw him falling to earth, without a parachute, from a helicopter. Somehow he survives (you just have to accept he is indestructible) but is kidnapped by Oriental gangsters who steal his heart and give him an artificial one instead, batteries not included.
So in this film he keeps it pumping by electrically charging his body, using everything from tasers to having sex in the middle of a racing track (for skin-on-skin friction, apparently). He also jump starts himself using a car battery with one lead clamped to his nipple and the other to his tongue.
There is violence, naked women used only as sex objects (his girlfriend is a stripper) and lots of swearing. It comes as a refreshing change when he calls someone “cupcake” instead of another c-word.
Occasionally it’s quite funny in a “this is so silly” way, but mostly it is just nonsense. Look out for a surprising cameo from a chavvy Geri Halliwell, though.