In the Loop

Movie review by
Tom Cassidy, Common Sense Media
In the Loop Movie Poster Image
Hilarious political satire has very strong language.
  • NR
  • 2009
  • 106 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

There are very few positive messages with incompetence, cowardice, and aggressiveness all being the main takeaways, albeit in comedic fashion. Power plays are made through passive-aggressive and threatening conversations. Put-downs and bad language are at every turn.

Positive Role Models

Malcolm Tucker demands total control of everyone's actions and takes it through aggression and engineering the end of careers. Politicians and their advisors are portrayed as incompetent, fickle and cowardly, often going against their principles. Characters doctor official reports in order to justify going to war.


Regular verbal threats. Character jabs someone with a magazine and kicks a chair in anger. Character threatens colleague with a hole punch. Blood shown after a mouth injury.


Driver offers to help find sex workers. Character has an affair with a colleague -- their sexual encounter is discussed throughout. A "joke " about Rohypnol being needed to attain sex.


Very strong language in almost every scene, as well as sexist and homophobic slurs. Includes "c--t," "f--k," "wanker," "f--king," "s--t," "twat," "crap," "arse," "c--k," "balls," "shag," "pr--k," "t-ts," "minge," "Jesus Christ," and "God dammit."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Character smokes a cigarette. Colleagues go to a bar and drink alcohol.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that In the Loop is a political satire -- by Armando Iannucci -- about the run-up to a British-American invasion of the Middle East and contains non-stop profanity throughout. The movie uses characters and cast members from the popular British TV comedy The Thick of It. Antihero Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi) is the Prime Minister's Director of Communications and uses strong verbal threats to control both Government staff and the press. These include inventive riffs using the "C" word and variants of "f--k." There are also a number of sexist and homophobic slurs. The razor-sharp satire paints a sorry picture of both British and U.S. Government officials and between the laughs a serious light is shone on the chaotic world of politics. Behavior is despicable throughout, ranging from violent outbursts to the doctoring of official documents to justify going to war. There are no positive role models in the movie. Most sex references are verbal but two characters have an affair and the man is shown waking up without a top on the next morning. There is some smoking and characters drink alcohol at a bar. The movie is loosely inspired by the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

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What's the story?

IN THE LOOP deals with the aftermath of British Cabinet Minister Simon Foster's (Tom Hollander) remark about a potential invasion in the Middle East that sparks a chaotic political circus. With war on the horizon, officials in both the U.K. and U.S. are forced to come together. But with proceedings being overlooked by the British Government's Director of Communications -- the much feared and acid-tongued Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi) -- a peaceful resolution is easier said than done.

Is it any good?

This peek behind the curtain of power is a blisteringly funny, searing satire that hits every mark to make it a classic in its field. The story is carried by a constantly hilarious script -- a feat that doubles the impact of the serious side to the satire. Once it's over, reflecting back on what's happened is chilling. It's a political thriller disguised as a potty-mouthed farce. The ruthless, omnipotent power at the top of the chain of command is represented by Capaldi's Tucker, an iconic antihero who first appeared in director Armando Iannucci's The Thick of It.

What makes In the Loop so effective is how believable it is despite being so preposterous. Indeed, Iannucci's drawing on real-life. His 2018 feature The Death of Stalin told the story of the Soviet "Great Terror" turmoil, while In the Loop is inspired by much more recent history -- the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The icing on the cake is the movie's powerhouse performances. In a mundane convention center canteen, Tucker faces off against James Ganfolfini's Lieutenant General George Miller in a muted but charged confrontation that crackles. It's the acting centerpiece in a movie packed with actors all at the top of their game. The movie's frenetic energy whisks it along in a flurry of laughter, fear, and nervous energy, adding up to a eye-opening conclusion that hammers home a grim reality of our political systems.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the strong language in In the Loop. Does it seem necessary or excessive? What does it contribute to the movie?

  • Amongst the comedy, did the movie have a serious message? If so, what was it? What is the purpose of satire? Can you think of any other movies or TV shows that could be called satire?

  • How do the portrayals of the U.K. and U.S. politicians differ in the movie? Did they seem like realistic characters? Is that important?

  • How did the movie make you feel about politics? 

  • Discuss the character of Malcolm Tucker. Did you like him? He could be described as an "antihero." Can you think of any other characters that you could call an antihero?

Movie details

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