157 user 194 critic

In the Loop (2009)

Not Rated | | Comedy | 4 September 2009 (USA)
2:21 | Trailer
A political satire about a group of skeptical American and British operatives attempting to prevent a war between two countries.


Armando Iannucci


Jesse Armstrong (screenplay), Simon Blackwell (screenplay) | 3 more credits »
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 16 wins & 42 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Peter Capaldi ... Malcolm Tucker
Harry Hadden-Paton ... Civil Servant
Samantha Harrington Samantha Harrington ... Malcolm's Secretary
Gina McKee ... Judy Molloy
Tom Hollander ... Simon Foster
Olivia Poulet ... Suzy
Chris Addison ... Toby Wright
James Smith ... Michael Rodgers
Zach Woods ... Chad
Mimi Kennedy ... Karen Clark
Anna Chlumsky ... Liza Weld
Enzo Cilenti ... Bob Adriano
Lucinda Raikes ... Reporter
James Doherty ... Reporter
David Rasche ... Linton Barwick


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

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Ok, what's it all about? Find out when you're in the loop. See more »




Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Armando Iannucci is well known for asking his actors to improvise their scenes around the script, and editing the best takes together. 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 provide him with a better come back. See more »


Simon and Toby land in DC at what seems to be the afternoon (it is still full daylight, there are no long shadows and they proceed to the hotel and discuss what they'll do that evening). They phone Judy in London to arrange transport for them. She is woken by the call in what she says is the middle of the night. But DC is only 5 hours behind London, so it should be no later than mid-evening there. See more »


[first lines]
Malcolm Tucker: Good morning, my little chicks and cocks.
See more »

Crazy Credits

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 »


References Roots (1977) See more »


Erbarme dich, mein Gott! from St. Matthew Passion
Composed by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performed by Judit Nemeth (contralto) and the Kölner Kammerorchester (as Cologne Chamber Orchestra)
Conducted by Helmut Müller-Brühl
Licensed courtesy of Naxos Rights International Ltd.
See more »

User Reviews

Now THAT'S great writing
25 January 2010 | by Buddy-51See all my reviews

One of the wittiest and most sophisticated movie satires of recent vintage, "In the Loop" provides us with a hilarious behind-the-scenes glimpse into the ugly, messy world of international diplomacy. The mad run-up to the Iraq war serves as the obvious blueprint for the fictional - yet far from make-believe - tale the writers have come up with here. We begin in London where news has just leaked out that the British and Americans are planning a military invasion of an unspecified country in the Middle East. When the bumbling Minister for International Development, Simon Foster, accidentally goes off script by stating in an interview that such a war is "unforeseeable," the Prime Minister's staff goes into immediate damage control mode, hustling Foster off to Washington D.C. to see if they can get him in on the pre-war planning and negotiations. From that point on, Foster becomes a bone-of-contention between the pro-war and anti-war factions battling it out for preeminence.

The source for "In the Loop" is a popular British TV series entitled "The Thick of It," with many of the actors from that program appearing in the movie (though we're told that most of the performers play different roles in the film from the ones they play on the show). As if that weren't confusing enough, the script by Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci and Tony Roche spends virtually no time on introductions or back story of any kind, leaving those of us who are unfamiliar with the context feeling just a wee bit lost and disoriented at the beginning. Indeed, we are plunged so immediately into the swirl of activity surrounding the minister's diplomatic faux pas that we learn early on that we had better start paying some serious attention to what's happening on screen or risk going under in pretty short order. I say this not as a criticism of the writing because, frankly, this is one of the few comic scripts I've come across in quite some time that actually treats its audience like thinking adults, that doesn't find it necessary to talk down to us in order to appeal to the lowest-common-denominator viewer. The one-liners come fast and furious in this film and woe to anyone not willing to make the effort to keep up with them. The good news is that the writing is so sharp and acerbic that we really don't mind putting that extra added effort into our viewing. One simply cannot be a passive onlooker while watching "In the Loop" and still reap the rewards of the experience.

With the kind of understated irony that distinguishes the best of British humor, the densely-plotted, character-rich screenplay aims its comedic sights at all the would-be power players, petty backbiters, toadying assistants, long-suffering aides, incompetent bureaucrats, draconian bosses, mealy-mouthed office-holders and enraged constituents that make up the world of high-level diplomacy and politics. The movie also has some fun with England's perceived role as ugly stepsister (or lapdog, if you prefer) to the bully-boy United States in matters of world affairs.

Director Iannucci gets nothing less than a sterling performance from each and every member of his large and gifted cast, be they American (with James Gandolfini the most recognizable face in that crowd) or British. However, extra special note should be taken of Tom Hollander, Chris Addison, Mimi Kennedy and, above all, Peter Capaldi, who tears up the screen as the deliciously ill-tempered and foul-mouthed enforcer for the British Prime Minister.

The truths this allegorical fable reveals about how easy it is to cherry pick evidence to lead a country into war and how hard it is for individuals of goodwill to stand up for what they know is right are so dead-on in their accuracy and so universal in their scope that they leave the mind reeling from the impact - and the ribcage aching from all the laughter.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Release Date:

4 September 2009 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

In the Loop See more »


Box Office


GBP612,650 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$191,866, 26 July 2009

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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