So on these "If You Liked That" blogs I take a recent popular movie and suggest to everyone that liked that film some other movies that they may also enjoy. However this week the only two big releases were The Lucky One and Think Like a Man. Think Like a Man got some fairly decent reviews, but not enough for me to spend money going out to see it, so I can't make any recommendations on that one, and if you liked The Lucky One, well then I recommend to you any other Nicholas Sparks movie. Seriously, not that hard to figure that one out.
So for I figured I could either skip this week's blog or just talk about Cabin in the Woods again (which I have no problem with by the way), or I could try something different. Last Sunday night HBO premiered a new series that people have been talking about for months, Veep, a new series all about Julia Louis-Dreyfus as a vice president who is very unhappy with her position. Well the show finally aired and got a string of great reviews, all from people that are not me. Don't get me wrong, I thought it was okay, has potential, but I wasn't that big of a fan. Honestly if you want to watch a really good politically centered TV show out there right now, just watch Parks and Rec. But I think one of the reasons I wasn't that big a fan of Veep was because the whole time I kept watching it I was thinking, "You know... this seems a whole lot like a movie that came out two years ago, which was fantastic, and even though it has many similarities to it that movie did all these things so much better." That movie I'm talking about was In The Loop, and it does indeed share many similarities with Veep, even going as far to have one of the actors from the movie being a supporting character on the show.
So let's start this segment off by discussing the key points of Veep and what people who are fans of it find so appealing.
Now I'll start with the main characters in each, although I'm using that term loosely because both Veep and In the Loop attempt to establish something of group dynamic, In the Loop doing it far more so, in fact I'd say that the movie doesn't even have a real protagonist, and that the crisis at hand is more of the lead character. But I digress, if I had to pick a protagonist it would be Simon Foster, a British politician who bumbles his way into being in the spotlight at the beginning of the Iraq war. In Veep the protagonist is clearly the Vice President Selina Meyer, who is... well we haven't seen really how good she is at her job yet, but the first episode does imply that she is so bitter over her position and the attention she receives that it can lead to incompetence, and this is where she shares a lot with Simon Foster. You see in the very first episode Selina gets into trouble because of a remark she makes that slips out largely thanks to how much she hates her position. Simon on the other hand comes into the spotlight because of a remark he makes simply because he doesn't know any better, however it is his love of this sudden attention that drives him to keep fighting to be in the spotlight, despite the fact that he shouldn't be. I feel that both characters share this need for respect and a want for a higher position, however Selina's attitude is more of one of disgruntled anger while Simon is more of just a bumbling idiot, which to me kind of makes him easier to route for, or at least watch for the next ninety minutes.
But as I said, neither of these programs really focuses primarily on the character in the spotlight, making both more about the groups involved in the political landscape. And that really is the biggest draw of both the show and the movie, seeing these people who have this much control, dealing with such important issues, but still acting like any regular screw up with their own office politics and daily personal drama, all the while being captured in this documentary, one camera style of shooting to make it seem all the more real. And while each show has its share of narcissistic, inept figures who mix their jobs with their personal lives, in Veep its hard to say what will be the standout relationship or the breakout character, but I can assure you that In The Loop has plenty of them. The total kiss-assery of Chad is captured perfectly by Zach Wood's performance, James Gandolfini doesn't have as much screen time as he should but he uses every minute of it just right, and if you want a memorable political exaggeration (and I say that in a good way) then you can't get any better than Malcolm Tucker, a spin-doctor for Simon Foster who is so foul mouthed yet in such a clever way that you'll be wishing they made a show just about him.
So as of now it's still too early to tell what the future of Veep will be. Like I said, I have mixed feelings on it but its just the first episode so it could really take off after this. And if it does succeed and you love it, or if it doesn't and you want to see what it would have been like if done well, then I highly recommend In The Loop, currently available on Netflix Instant Stream.