“I’m trying to think of another American comedy that has this kind of vigor and springy step,” I said this morning during a breakfast interview with In The Loop director Armando Iannucci. “The overwhelming majority of American comedies are geared for guys like Turtle on Entourage, and they don’t have a fraction of the mental alertness, that special Preston Sturges-like quality, that In The Loop has.”
I forgot to snap a photo this morning of In The Loop director Armando Iannucci, but this is where we sat for breakfast at the Cooper Union hotel.
I also remarked that “if I was a major comedian — if I were a Jim Carrey or a Steve Martin — I would consider it vital to somehow work with you somewhere down the line. Sooner or later. There are just not that many people who know how to do this sort of thing, or even care to do this sort of thing well. The lines are just snap-snap-snap. Like Sullivan’s Travel or The Lady Eve.”
Seven months after enjoying an uproarious debut at the ’09 Sundance Film Festival, In The Loop — easily one of the sharpest and funniest potty-mouth comedies about governmental inanity and media mis-speak ever made — is finally about to open. IFC is doing one of their simultaneous indie-level theatrical and IFC On Demand preems on 7.24.
With an invitational Manhattan screening-and-after-party of In The Loop set for this evening, I sat down this morning with Iannucci at the Cooper Square hotel.
In The Loop costars Peter Capaldi, James Gandolfini, Tom Hollander, David Rashe, Gina McKee, Chris Addison, Anna Chulmsky and Mimi Kennedy. It’s basically about how the media can sometimes focus on a gaffe by an official or spokesperson and make it sound (via sheer repetition and obsession) to represent firm government policy concerning this or that major issue.
In The Loop‘s major issue is a potential military conflict involving U.S. and British troops — think Iraq in late ’02 and early ’03. The humor is about how various second- and third-tier government types in London and Washington try to dodge, maneuver and counter-spin their way around an essentially meaningless statement by a British cabinet minister that war is “unforeseeable.” Meaningless and yet strangely meaningful once the media gets hold of it. And the source of endless misery for many people.
“One of the most robust pleasures of In The Loop,” I said this morning, “is the wonderfully creative and liberal use of absolutely disgusting profanity. It’s really some of the funniest uses of it. Was every word of it pretty much scripted?”
“More or less, yeah,” Iannucci replied. “You do improvisation, but that’s just to loosen it up and make it feel more natural. But with Malcolm’s…with Malcolm’s swearing, it has to be so precisely done. He does it syllable for syllable, precisely as on the page.
“I’ve tried to describe that sense of absolute certainty that comes when you’re watching a comedy that is absolutely working,” I continued. “To get that feeling one of two things seem to have happened. One is that al the actors have gone to some kind of comedy boot camp and had it drilled into them that there’s a certain attitude that energy that they all need to absorb and radiate, because they’re all of a piece.”
I love how Iannucci, who is Scottish-British, says “Pentagen” rather than “Penta-gone.