Thursday, November 8, 2018

Thursday Movie Picks - Political Comedy

Written as part of the weekly blogathon hosted by Wandering Through the Shelves. Join in the fun by picking three movies that fit the week's theme and writing a bit about them!

After the past few years of American politics, we all need a good political comedy, even though they may be just as painful to watch as dramas. But even when what's happening on screen is eerily, uncomfortably close to what's happening in real life, laughter is the best kind of catharsis. These are three of my favorites.

In The Loop (Armando Iannucci, 2009) This satire of the run-up to the Iraq war, a spin-off of the brilliant British TV series The Thick of It is one of the funniest films ever made. When Minister for International Development Simon Foster (terrifically bumbling Tom Hollander) keeps digging a deeper hole for himself every time he opens his mouth around the media, the Prime Minister's Director of Communications, Malcolm Tucker (the shoulda-been-Oscar-nominated Peter Capaldi) is sent in to fix things. Except that American Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomacy Karen Clark (hilarious Mimi Kennedy) got wind of Foster's statements and wants him to help her as she tries to undermine Assistant Secretary of State for Policy Linton Barwick's secret war committee. It's all a tangle, and a flawless ensemble of American and British actors pull it off, giving Iannucci fantastically profane script (Malcolm's preferred sign-off phrase is "Fuckity-bye!") plenty of punch.

The Great Dictator (Charlie Chaplin, 1940) For his first true sound film, Charlie Chaplin sure went there, didn't he? A Jewish barber just so happens to look exactly like the ruthless dictator Adenoid Hynkel (who may look rather... familiar to you), and when Hynkel orders a purge of the Jews, it may be up to the barber to save his people... and the rest of the people of the country of Tomania. One of the most important works of satire ever filmed, The Great Dictator is brilliant, and brilliantly funny.

Duck Soup (Leo McCarey, 1933) The Marx Brothers at their zany best, which is actually what makes this satire somewhat difficult to watch. They are talking about political intrigue and war, after all. But really, the hilariously on point songs and the justly famous mirror scene put Zeppo's final film with the group over the top.


  1. I want to watch In The Loop all over again now lol.

    I haven't seen Duck Soup. We watched The Great Dictator in School but not on back to back days so my memory of it is really jumbled.

  2. I really must see In the Loop! It's just everywhere today, I'll try over the weekend.

    The Great Dictator is genius, uncomfortable genius because of the subject matter but genius nonetheless. I prefer Limelight and Modern Times but it is one of his best films.

    I'm not as crazy about Duck Soup but then the Marx Brothers are very hit and miss for me. It's a good film just not one I feel the need to watch again.

    I already used my very favorite political comedy, Dave, before but I'm a fan of these three.

    State of the Union (1948)-Successful businessman Grant Matthews (Spencer Tracy) is convinced to run for president by newspaper publisher Kay Thorndyke (23 year old Angela Lansbury believably playing a controlling 40ish shrew), his politically ambitious longtime girlfriend. At the instigation of his cynical campaign manager Spike McManus (Van Johnson), Grant and his long-estranged wife, Mary (Katharine Hepburn-who stepped in for Claudette Colbert at the last minute), attempt a reconciliation to increase his changes of a win. But when the idealistic Mary learns of Kay's behind-the-scenes role and sees how the campaign is changing Grant, it throws everything into turmoil. Frank Capra directed comedy/drama is one of Tracy & Hepburn’s best.

    The Mouse That Roared (1959)-The Duchy of Grand Fenwick, the world’s smallest country, decides that the only way to get out of their economic woes is to declare war on the United States, lose and accept foreign aid. But things do not go as planned and suddenly it seems they are going to be the victors! What to do now? Cold War satire with Peter Sellers in a trio of roles was followed by the sequel The Mouse on the Moon.

    Dick (1999)-Teenage airheads Betsy (Kirsten Dunst) and Arlene (Michelle Williams) accidentally stumble into the middle of the infamous Watergate robbery in 1976. Anxious to keep them quiet Nixon (Dan Hedaya) appoints them honorary dog walkers at the White House. While doing so their innocent actions start a chain of events that may eventually lead to Nixon's resignation as president of the United States.

  3. I have to see In The Loop which looks hilarious! Love The Great Dictator which was a great satire that all the other studios did not want to deal with at that time which makes Chaplin quite courageous actually. Duck Soup is perfect! I almost chose this film but i want to see it again before I choose it for something. They were nuts off screen as much as on screen. Once when Thalberg asked them to come & see him at his office, they wait for over 2 hrs and Thalberg never showed. Thalberg did this again so the last time, they barged into his office, got naked and started roasting hotdogs in his fireplace. When thalberg finally showed, he saw this sight...and laughed!

  4. YES! In the Loop is my all time favorite comedy. I must have seen it at least 10 times. The thick of It is my favorite show and I watch the whole series several times a year

  5. I really need to watch The Great Dictator.

  6. Yup, we match on In the Loop. Excellent movie. I still need to see The Great Dictator.

    I have seen Duck Soup...and...sigh...I'm sorry. The Marx Brothers just aren't for me.