Tom Hollander, Chris Addison, Peter Capaldi, Anna Chlumsky
Malcolm: “Climbing the mountain of conflict”?? You sounded like a Nazi Julie Andrews!
On the verge of an unnamed war, Simon Foster (Hollander), a dim-witted British cabinet member, says something in an interview that steps outside the party line and makes it seems like he thinks war might be avoidable. Those opposed to war (in the U.S. especially) latch on to his statements and seek his support, but when Foster then makes public statements that sound like he thinks war is unavoidable, war proponents use his words as their pro-war slogan. As Foster is being tugged back and forth, his advisers race to do damage control.
My plot description hardly does the complexity of this movie justice. There are all kinds of things going on with a myriad of enjoyable characters. Most of the humor works quite well, though admittedly, some of it went over my head. I’m not very political, so I probably missed a few references in that arena. Plus, the British accents can be a bit thick at times, so I may have missed a few more jokes because of that.
Malcolm Tucker (Capaldi), an aide to the Prime Minister, is brutally – and hilariously – vulgar and cruel in his dealings with Foster and his advisers. Sometimes obscenities can be used as script crutches in a way. If writers don’t have enough actual jokes, they just throw in vulgarities to get a laugh. I think, though, in this case it works well because it fits the character and enhances the jokes that are already there. If you took out every obscenity in this movie, it would still be funny.
There are a couple of patches that aren’t that funny and story lines that don’t go anywhere, but overall it works. Just when I thought something predictable was going to happen, it took a turn into unexpected territory. I especially liked how it seemed Malcolm would finally get his comeuppance, but then he regroups and turns things back into his favor. It’s brave to have the underdog get squashed in your movie.
Lastly, it’s good to see Anna Chlumsky (of My Girl fame) back in the acting game. She did a good job in her role, even if her storyline sort of fizzled out near the end.
The bigger a jerk you are, the more you can accomplish in politics!
10 – 1.4 for a few unfunny portions – .8 for some muddied plot lines = 7.8